Cutting Back on Digital Clutter

Feeling overwhelmed with digital clutter? Here are the things you should DEFINITELY delete. | spring cleaning | online safety | decluttering | computer tips |

It’s the season of decluttering. Many of us, I’m sure, have gone to the store to stock up on plastic bins and trashbags and are already starting to get in the swing of Spring Cleaning. I mean, ‘tis the season, right? But here’s the deal. You may be cleaning out your closet and under your bed and in that one junk drawer that you never think about until this one time a year when you’re getting organized. Heck, you may have even bought a new planner and promised to organize your time better. But I can almost guarantee there is one place you didn’t think about decluttering… and it’s right in front of you. It’s your digital life. Now that we live in the world of cloud storage, so many of us have unlimited or large amounts of storage and we don’t think about paring down… but there’s good reason to (and there’s some good places to start, too).

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Organizing Your Desktop Background– Easily!

My desktop background looked insane just days ago. It infuriated my IT-guy, who kept begging to clean it up for me. I totally understood why– every time I’d go to find a file, I’d spend more time digging through my desktop than using the file I was looking for!

I started looking through my files on my desktop and found out they came in several simple formats– photos I had saved to the desktop instead of filing away in my photo folder, documents I had saved to the desktop instead of in the desktop file they belonged in, some disorganized files for work and various volunteer jobs, some scrapbook pages in progress, notepad documents for when I’d open a document, save it under a random name, and use it to keep notes for the time being. Afraid I’d lose something important, I’d keep saving it– sometimes for up to two years. Scattered among the other files were programs that I used on a regular basis, and anytime I wanted to use the program, I’d have to search through other icons.

I’d say “Man, I’m disorganized!” but, after talking to some friends and family, it seems that many people have a desktop background just like mine. In fact, I’d go so far to say that it’s the norm, not the anomaly.

So how do we clean up our desktop? Well, we start with finding out what can just go straight to the recycling bin.

I realized I had two or three duplicate copies of photos with different filenames. Anything that is an exact duplicate gets trashed. Anything that is unusable gets trashed. Then, I started opening notepad documents. I realized some of the files were over a year old, with information and to-do lists I no longer needed. Some were partially important, but half the information was outdated. I erased the outdated information and re-saved the file with a more relevant name. If something had addresses in it and a grocery list from six months ago, and the file name “Stuff,” I erased the groceries, and resaved it under “Addresses.”

Anything that had a folder it could go into already, went into that folder. For example, a work draft I wrote when our internet was down went into a work file. My watermark for my blog photographs went into my work file, as well. Self portraits I took as part of a “selfie project” at a scrapbooking forum I belong to were placed together in a newly created folder just for them. It’s something I’ll be adding to all year long, so having it readily available is good.

I finished by putting all of the program files together. But, all clustered up along one side of the desktop, as clean as I had gotten it, and as great as it was to trim it from covering the full desktop to covering a quarter of it, it still didn’t look clean.

I searched for desktop backgrounds, but nothing fit my needs, so I decided it was time to make one.

Check this out! It’s so crisp and clean– and it’s lumping all of my stuff into organized categories. Plus, it features my favorite things– a color scheme I love, that always cheers me up and makes me think of sunshine, chevrons, and washi tape! It’s just so… pretty! Like a corkboard full of inspiration possibilities.

I realized it was just what I needed to re-organize and clean up my desktop. This winter chill has me in the mood for a little spring cleaning, and this got it dusted off and pretty.

And, just in case you want to clean up your desktop, too, I decided to share this background with you! I also thought that, even though the sunny blue and yellow makes me feel happy, you may have a different color that makes you happy. So, I’ve made it available in several colors.

You can download the sunny background, or purple, orange, grey, and green. You can also download all of them here, in case you can’t decide. I asked some friends, and they said these are the titles they’d most use when sorting their backgrounds, also.

To set a desktop background on Windows, find your control panel, then under Appearance and Personalization, you’ll find “Change the Desktop Background.” You can then browse for this file after you’ve downloaded it (check your downloads folder!) and install it. Then, just drag and drop your icons into place!

Don’t forget to tell your friends to come download a free desktop background for getting their files organized, too, by sharing on Facebook or Pinterest!