We started our Good Housekeeping Guide a couple of weeks ago with some hints and tips for cleaning up and managing your email.
Today we will move on to some hard drive maintenance. As with the tips on email these can easily be carried out by the user and will help keep your system running more smoothly.
Organise your folders
Whether it is on your own system or you use a system such as OneDrive or SharePoint to share files between multiple employees or sites, there is little more frustrating than a poorly organised folder system.
Time can be wasted locating files, ensuring the latest versions are being used, or even duplicating files that already exist. If you struggle to find files and folders without using Windows Search then you’ve got some tidying up to do!
How you actually set-up your folders is going to be personal to you and your business, but giving it some thought will certainly save some time.
A simple starting structure could be to have 3 main folders split as follows:
Management – access would be restricted to members of the management team only and this folder might contain things like business plans and financial information.
Clients – You might then have a folder that contains client information, this could be set-up so that each client has a subfolder for information pertaining to them whilst there may also be ‘blank’ documents such as agreements, proposals etc. ready to be edited for a new client.
Staff/Employees – You might then have an individual file for each member of staff where they then keep their own files.
Utilising OneDrive or a server keeps files off individual computers, this generally will mean they run more quickly. However, if you are using a system like this it is important that staff understand it. If your backup runs from the server and John in Accounts saves everything to his hard drive, then in the event of a failure of Johns hard drive all of his data is lost.
Once you’ve got a basic hierarchy follow these further tips to keep things organised.
Don’t keep creating new folders. Most files will fit somewhere if you’ve done a reasonable job of initially mapping things out. Only create a new folder if you keep looking for somewhere to keep similar files and a suitable folder doesn’t exist.
Use archives or separate folders for completed work. This works especially well with things like blogs. Trying to sort through all of the completed and published articles to find the ones you want to work on can be a pain, so move completed files to a separate ‘published’ folder. This can also work will strategies, campaign plans, budgets etc. An ‘archive’ folder means only the latest versions are immediately visible, meaning you can get to what you want to work on more quickly.
There are some quite detailed guides available with some more tips for organising your files and folders. We like this one from Zapier – https://zapier.com/blog/organize-files-folders/
Declutter your desktop
If your desktop looks something like the one above then it’s time for some decluttering!
The desktop is the first thing that you see when you turn your computer on in the morning and it can be quite demotivating to open up a cluttered mess! Just thinking to yourself ‘I need to sort that out’ adds a to-do task before you’ve even looked at your to-do list!
Keeping the desktop free of folders and files and just having the shortcuts to your most regularly used programmes is a good rule of thumb for the Windows desktop. You may want to have the odd file that you’re currently working on available but generally you should be storing these away in your nicely organised folder structure.
If you are starting with a mass of files, folders and shortcuts then creating a sub-folder can be one way to start the clean-up process. Creating a single folder and moving everything into it is a little bit like sweeping everything under the carpet, however as you use files you can move them back on to the desktop. If you’ve not accessed something for a week or two you’ve clearly identified it doesn’t need to be on the desktop and you can delete it if it’s a shortcut (this won’t delete the programme itself) or find a new home for it if it’s a folder or file.
You can also open your desktop in File Explorer, which can make it easier to navigate and identify files, folders, and shortcuts that you no longer need. Within File Explorer you can order your everything by date. Just choose Date Modified from the Sort By menu on the View Tab, from here you’ll be able to see the oldest files that you’ve most probably forgotten all about!
Once you’ve decluttered then resist the temptation to start filling the desktop back up!
Delete Your Downloads
An often-overlooked way of clearing some clutter is to clean up your downloads folder. Everything you download from the internet defaults to this file, so you’ll find every PDF you’ve opened, every image, every .exe file for a programme plus zip files, updates and myriads of other stuff. If you’ve not told Windows you want to put a file somewhere else then it kind of ends up here!
This can mean a pretty overloaded folder hiding away on your machine. I found 4.55GB in 290 files, mainly pictures I’d downloaded, opened, edited and saved the edited version to ‘My Pictures’. This leaves the original pictures all in downloads. Canva users (if you are anything like me) will find multiple versions of images I’ve made and then tweaked, and there are also loads of PDF’s I’ve downloaded, read, taken bits from and then closed.
Again, the best way to tackle this is probably to sort on date order. If you’ve not opened something for a month or more you probably don’t need it, so hit delete. You can also move anything you want to retain to your new, streamlined file structure – where you’ll be able to find it much more easily again in the future.
Delete software you don’t use
This might not be relevant for all users, as there may well be policies in place that limit installation of software and access to the control panel. We’d certainly file this under ‘more experienced users’ but redundant software can be an issue.
If you’re like me you might well download a free trial of some software for a specific purpose. If you are also like me that piece of software is probably still sat on your machine taking up space and doing nothing useful.
If you’ve not updated it, it may even be a security risk.
To see exactly what you’ve got installed go to Control Panel, Programmes & Features and you’ll see a list of everything you’ve got installed.
Go through the list and get rid of things you don’t use anymore. Alternatively, if there is something on the list you’ve not opened for a while open it up and check you’re on the latest version.
Keeping it clean
Now that all of your email, files, folders, and software are all sorted and you should be working more efficiently. You PC might well be running better too, with some space freed up to breathe!
All you need to do now is continue to practice good housekeeping, filing things properly, archiving regularly, plus, and I know that this is controversial, not keeping every email and file you’ve ever encountered!
Good luck and Good Housekeeping!