There’s something so refreshing about a good old-fashioned Spring Cleaning! It’s a way of metaphorically throwing open the windows to air out winter’s stuffiness and prepare for the business that comes with Spring and Summer. And Spring Cleaning isn’t just for your house!
Now is a great time to clear out and clean up the office too! We’re talking about sorting, filing, and shredding that stack of papers that’s been sitting on your desk for months, vacuuming out the dust bunnies behind your desk, and even optimizing your cable management.
Studies have shown that we’re far more productive in a neat and tidy space. There’s something about an organized workspace that helps our brains also remain organized. So as Spring approaches, make sure you tidy your space and watch your productivity soar!
One area of organization that is often overlooked is the technology we use to do our jobs! Tidying up your tech can help optimize your technology and increase your business’s productivity. Let’s look at a few ways to digitally declutter and keep your business running smoothly all season.
Purge Your Devices
Nothing is more satisfying than getting rid of stuff you don’t need, and that includes computer files and apps! The first step in any digital decluttering project is to get rid of the things you no longer need. Go through the files and folders on your computer and recycle any old, unused, or outdated files, documents, images, downloads, etc. And remember to actually clear your recycle bin! This tells your computer that the space that the old file was using is now free to be used for new, updated files. This frees up space on your computer and helps keep your OS running smoothly.
Once you’ve cleaned out the files you don’t need anymore, organizing the ones you do is much easier! But, again, do this across all your devices – not just your computer – and eliminate apps you no longer need (or ones that may be a little distracting!).
Backup Your Files
There is nothing more panic-inducing than seeing your computer crash, destroying files you rely on for your business! While sometimes you can recover some of those files, oftentimes your work will be lost forever. To avoid this, make sure you are regularly backing up your most important files. Whether you use an external hard drive, or online software, having a regular schedule of backing up the files that help you run your business. A great place and free resource we here at Pulse love to use is Google Drive. But if it’s in your budget and easier for your business, Dropbox offers both paid and free options. We’ve used both and highly recommend them!
Bonus Tip: backing up your files is the perfect time to rename files, so they make sense and are easily recognizable by your whole team!
Update Your Software
Most computers these days will auto-update to new operating system versions, but this isn’t always true for your other devices. Keeping your devices up to date means having access to the latest features they offer, faster processing, better security, and overall far more functionality. This is also true of the software you use. If you can set up auto-updates, now is the time to do so, but if a program you use doesn’t offer an auto-update feature, make sure you’re checking fairly often for new updates.
Clear Your Cache
You’ve probably visited at least one website recently that asked you to accept “cookies,” but did you know it’s equally important to clear those cookies too? The terms Cache and Cookies refer to background website information that browsers store. Basically, it’s designed so that your browser recognizes some information from that website. And while this can be helpful in running websites to their full potential, if that website is updated and your browser is using old information, it can cause a lot of less-than-optimal performance. Clearing both your cache and cookies will help your browser run better and faster and clears up space on your device.
Are you still confused? We get it! Here’s a great article with links to step-by-step instructions on clearing the cache and cookies from various browsers and devices.
Clean Up Your Inbox
For so many of us, and disorganized inbox is the bane of our work life! Sometimes it’s so incredibly hard to keep up with the constant influx of emails we receive on a daily basis, and even more challenging to organize the important emails in a way that is both useful and easy. However, you can master your inbox and keep it organized! Depending on what email service you use, many offer backend organization options. This means you can filter emails you regularly receive to be automatically sorted into files or folders within your inbox. If your email provider doesn’t offer this option, they still have “label” or “folder” features you can manually manage! For instance, we like to create folders for each of our clients, and any and every email we receive from or for that client gets moved to that folder. Easy peasy!
The next thing that will change your email woes for good: Unsubscribe, baby! Be brutal about what emails you allow to even come into your inbox! If you don’t read them or don’t want them, unsubscribe (you can always re-subscribe!) and enjoy the bliss of a tidy inbox!
Declutter Your Desktop
I had a friend who recently let me use their computer, and the anxiety their desktop gave me was overwhelming! But we’ve all been there! Desktop organization isn’t everyone’s priority when it comes to their overall tech organization. Having easy access to files or documents you use frequently is excellent. But we’ve all seen a desktop with 50 random screenshots, 100 cluttered files, and notes scattered across the screen. Making it a habit to organize your desktop will create a sense of visual calm that will definitely improve your productivity. Organize the notes, delete the screenshots you don’t need, and label and alphabetize your folders. You’ll still have quick access to the things you use most and probably will be able to find them even faster!
In a world where we can be contacted by anyone and everyone instantly, a lot is vying for our attention. This is where silencing notifications can be a game-changer for your focus! Most apps and even some desktop software come programmed to notify you throughout the day. Some of these notifications are helpful – like getting a new email – while others are just annoying – like an app add-on sale. You don’t have to be notified if you don’t want to! Going into your settings and turning off the notifications you don’t want will have you uselessly distracted by your phone far less! Be super selective of what gets your attention!
If you want to take this a step further, create specific times when your phone turns off all notifications! I love the Time-Blocking Method for organizing my day, which means I already know what times I need distraction-free. It’s easy to then program my phone to silence all notifications during those time blocks.
Disable Background Noise
Did you know that even when you’re not using specific apps, it’s still working in the background? A lot of the discussion over digital privacy actually comes from this feature on most apps. These apps record things like your location and even bits of conversations you have (that’s why when you talk about needing to find a new pet groomer, suddenly, all your ads are for local pet groomers!). This can also contribute to battery power drainage! But it’s relatively easy to head into your settings and disable background refreshes and location tracking!
Fortunately, iOS users now have a standard prompt each time they download a new app, asking if they allow this tracking. You can still let the app track your location strategically (apps like Instagram use this for location tagging) or not at all! But for older apps, make sure you head to your settings and disable these features.
Smooth Out Your Start-Up
When you bring home a new computer, that computer comes pre-programmed with certain features. While some of these features are great and useful, they aren’t always helpful to you or something you’ll use frequently. What’s often even more annoying about them is that they come programmed to open when you start your computer. Meaning that each time you update your computer, shut it down to save power, or have to restart it for whatever reason, you can’t even use your computer until these programs have started up. More than being annoying, this lag in startup means you can’t hop into your workload as quickly as you’d like.
Fortunately, it’s a pretty easy fix! You can disable these startup programs by heading to your settings. Here’s a helpful guide if you’re a Mac user and another for Windows users.
We hope you found this guide helpful! Removing clutter from your life always makes it better and easier to do the things you love and are passionate about. And we fully believe that removing the digital clutter in your life will make running your business easier than ever!