The wonderful thing about technology is that you can turn it off. With screens darkened and laptops closed, any digital disorganization can be forgotten, swept under the “off switch” rug. Since this has been my definition of digital cleanup for a while, my tech is long overdue for a digital de-cluttering, if you will.
I’m prepped and ready to tackle the virtual clutter with a simple seven-day plan, thanks to the Digital Deep-Clean challenge on the Ziploc® Fresh 180 website. The challenge outlines a sensible plan of attack, breaking down a potentially behemoth task into a few focused hours a day over seven days. However, if you are determined, you can do it in three, which is what I did.
Days 1-3: Corral, Sweep and Sift
Depending on the depth of your digital dirt, these steps can be the easiest or most daunting. Think of it as the digital version of cleaning out your closet; sift through, keep-toss, and organize what’s left. And, like cleaning out your closet, it’s rewarding.
The challenge recommends starting off right with an external backup drive, which I picked up for around $60. You could choose an automated backup option which makes an exact copy of what you have on your computer, but I opted for the manual backup option so I could drag and drop as I pleased, when I pleased.
Altogether, it took me around three hours to sort through roughly four years of files, photos, videos and work projects. Then, I sorted everything by event or subject for family stuff; and by project for work files. It’s a simple system, but it worked for me.
Only after I organized everything did I drag the files onto the backup drive. I also pulled pertinent work and photo files onto my Google drive for remote access from my office or phone – very handy! Finally, I printed off a screen shot of the file structure to help keep me on-track for future data dust-offs.
Days 4-6: Manage Your Multimedia, Mail and Mobile
The challenge sent me into uncharted territory for these three steps. I figured out how to clean out and add folders to my email manager pretty quickly, but was perplexed on how to handle multimedia files.
Thankfully, my fifteen-year-old daughter solved this digital dilemma. With a few keystrokes, she had my music and movie files stored on the external drive. We also deleted redundant photo files from my phone (hello, Google drive) and she installed something that manages phone apps. Whatever – it works. So my biggest piece of advice for if you get stuck at this stage? Find a teenager.
Day 7: Do a Desktop Clean-Sweep
I actually merged some of the challenge’s Day 2 directives with Day 7, hitting both the digital and real-world desktops at the same time. I just didn’t feel comfortable deleting programs or removing shortcuts until I really dug into the data to see what I truly used and needed. After all the sifting and backing up was done, the desktop dust-off was a breeze.
My last task was to address my non-digital work area, and the challenge gave me a great idea for organizing office supplies and other desktop accessories. I transformed the unused sliding keyboard shelf into an organizer using Ziploc® Brand storage containers in assorted sizes. These let me create the perfect sorting system. I just lined them up and attached them to the shelf with double-stick tape. Heck, I can even use the lids to keep out the dust.
I finished the project by wiping down my desk area, screen and keyboard and hanging the print out of my file system nearby as inspiration to keep all things digital tidy in the future.
With that complete, I think I’ll shut it all down and enjoy the great outdoors. With my smartphone in tow, of course!
Disclaimer: I was paid to develop this post and to provide related images for Ziploc®. As always, all opinions are my own.