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Declutter and Organize Your Digital Files

Organize and Declutter Your Digital Files

Day 6 of the Digital Declutter Challenge

In Day 5 of the Digital Declutter Challenge, we decluttered our desktop VISUALLY. For Day 6 of the Digital Declutter Challenge, we are going to start the process of decluttering the layers underneath the visual desktop. The challenge for today will only be 15 minutes. Hopefully, this will be the inspiration for a goal of a completely decluttered and organized digital filing system! Remember, for any organizational system to work, it has to work for YOU. The point is that YOU are able to retrieve and find things easily and in less time. So let’s get started with how to declutter and organize your digital files.

Where to Start: Decluttering your Digital Files

Cleaning up your files!
Start with a clean desktop! If you like the look of this background, you can download it now!

Because your digital filing system is much like a physical paper system, this is a BIG task! We have so many files and downloads and documents stored on our computer. So for the 15 minutes challenge, I want you to pick 1 one of your Anchor Folders from Day 5 of the Digital Declutter Challenge. Anchor folders are 3-5 BIG categories on your desktop. I have four anchor folders on my desktop: “Family”, “Work”, “Blog” and “Current Projects.” These Anchor folders help to keep my desktop uncluttered and not overwhelming. They also help me to stay focused on one area of work at a time so I don’t get distracted.

Your First 15 minutes: Pick One Anchor Folder

Declutter and Organize your Digital Files in 15 Minutes!
Declutter and Organize your Digital Files in 15 Minutes!

For the 15 minute challenge today, pick 1 Anchor Folder. If you followed Day 5, this folder is probably going to be a mess! That’s ok. You are going to start creating order. Quickly look over the files and folders in here and start creating “sub-folders.”  For example, in my MAIN Anchor Folder of Family, my first sub folders are: “Medical”, “Pets”, “School”, “Army”, “Important Documents”, “Financial”, and “Kids.” I would suggest no more than 10-12 of these categories. You are creating a system of easy retrieval for you AND for someone else if ever anything happens to you! For the remainder of your time, start assigning your files to these created categories and DELETING any unnecessary files. 

Continuing After the Challenge

To continue organizing and decluttering your digital files, you would simply keep assigning files to subfolders within your anchor folders. If you have a particular folder that needs even more specific sub-folders, go for it! Make sure that you are labeling these folders in a way that you will remember what is in there. REMEMBER! The whole point is to make it easy to find something, not more complicated. No one is judging you on your “perfect” system. The point is to make it workable for you and your life.

Example of sub-folders in my "Family" Anchor Folder.
Example of sub-folders in my “Family” Anchor Folder.

I hope my this challenge can propel you from the macro level of organization to the micro level. To dive deeper into what files you should keep and what files you should delete, I highly recommend the book: In Case You Get Hit by a Bus: How to Organize Your Life Now for When You’re Not Around Later. In this book, the authors Abby Schneiderman and Adam Seifer go into great detail about what paperwork is necessary to keep, how long you need to keep it, and what paperwork is not important. My review of the book is included here.

Hopefully you are following along with the 7 Day Digital Declutter Challenge! If you want to come join the conversation check out my Facebook Group and Facebook Page @ The Organized Military Life!

6 Responses

  1. This is a big one! Even if you can’t go back and redo all your old files, you can set up the structure you suggested and just add all new files into this structure. Most of us have so much to do here!

  2. My computer files are very organized, but I rarely delete files. With your encouragement, I recognize this is something important to attend to.

    While it’s not exactly the same, yesterday I organized my “Inspirational Quotes” document. I am a quote collector. The document organizes quotes by categories like Mindfulness, Time Management, Letting Go, etc… And while the quotes were in the correct categories, the categories weren’t alphabetized on this 26-page (and growing) document. So while I always could find what I needed, it was a pain. It took me all of 15-minutes to get the document alphabetized. Not long at all. Now when I need a quote for a specific topic, it will be so much easier.

    Maintenance is important- whether that’s deleting excess files or cleaning up the ones we use regularly. It’s worth the investment.

  3. This challenge is an important reminder. I love that you mentioned “easy retrieval of these digital files.” It is interesting how people don’t think they will retrieve files. Then when they need them for an emergency, there is a made rush to find things. Thanks for sharing these steps.

  4. Although I blog primarily about organizing paper, organizing one’s digital life is obviously essential, and I love how you’ve approached it. Those anchor files help you get a handle on your umbrella categories, assuring you have overarching sense of structure. I’m in the process of using two computers simultaneous — an old one with perfect (for me) structure and a new one, where I’m experimenting, and trying new anchor files. Thanks for giving me a new name for these essential rubric.

  5. My files are organized as you suggest and it works for me. I have clients who don’t look for subfiles. If it is not in the labelled first level file they can’t find it. What do think about tagging documents and then searching by tags.?

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Jana Arevalo- Declutter Coach, The Organized Military Life

Hello! I'm Jana

Hi! I’m Jana! I have been a military spouse for 18 years, and I am experienced when it comes to PCS moves, organizing new spaces, and creating more efficient systems for my family. I understand the feeling of anxiety and overwhelm that can come with clutter, and that’s why I love helping military spouses, busy moms and small business owners declutter and organize their homes, digital lives and paperwork!

I am an Amazon Associate as well as an affiliate with Share-a-Sale and List & File, Military Life Binders. I receive a small commission (at no cost to you!) if you purchase through my links. Thank you!


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