Whether you love or hate to clean, there's no denying that spring is a perfect time to get your workspace in order, and that includes your computer. The ease and rapidity of digital work makes it easy to add countless files to your desktop and to continually hit "Remind me tomorrow" on that update notice, but just like the junk that crowds your physical desk, chaos on your computer screen can make it difficult to get anything done. While you're throwing away duplicate copies of meeting agendas and returning all of those unused paperclips to the supply closet, take these steps to make your computer clean, safe, and efficient.
Cleaning up files and icons on your desktop may not be the most technologically advanced way to streamline your computer and workflow, but it provides immediate gratification as a first step for those who struggle to motivate themselves to get organized. If you haven't already, trash the files on your desktop that you know you won't use again (screenshots, memos from long-completed projects, receipts that have already been submitted to accounting), and then empty out your trash. Compile your more important files into folders with easy-to-identify names like "Weekly Blog Posts," or "Monthly Reports 2019," and try to keep even those folders to a minimum. Make sure you're familiar with your company's retention guidelines on what documents to preserve and for how long.
Take Advantage of File Sharing
It's sensible to want easy access to files that you use often (hence the desktop folder system), but keeping important files on your desktop alone presents risks to your company's security and knowledge base. If your computer is fried during a storm and you're the only one who had your sales numbers from the past month, you and your team will be at a major loss. The same, or worse, is true if your laptop is stolen and you had sensitive client information sitting in a digital sticky note on your desktop.
When you possess important information, or information that could benefit your company, store it in a secure place where others have appropriate access to it. Most companies have a shared server where you can store files under your department's umbrella. For documents that are more team-beneficial than sensitive, utilize Google Drive, Dropbox, or other file-sharing platforms that ensure your information won't be lost with your physical laptop. When in doubt, consult your IT and legal departments for advice on when and how to back up your files.
Revisit Your Online Accounts
Do you get a thousand emails a day from Facebook? If yes, are you the person responsible for your company's Facebook account? If no, it's time to unsubscribe from those emails, as well as the myriad newsletters, advertisements, and mass-email chains you've collected over the past few months. It's also important to revisit any accounts you no longer use and make sure there aren't any residual charges for unused services coming through, or that your company card information isn't sitting in an inactive account, increasing your risk for identity theft.
You should be the only person (aside from IT) who knows the password to your computer, your email, and other individual accounts, but you shouldn't be the only person who knows the password to accounts that your whole team may need to use in your absence. Store a document of vital account information on your department's server, and make sure that the passwords you've chosen are strong, with a mix of upper and lower-case lettering, numbers, and symbols.
Optimize Your Computer Speed
If your laptop or desktop has been sluggish in recent weeks, it could be because of hidden files (caches) that you don't often think about. As you're cleaning up your digital workspace, take the time to clear caches and cookies from your desktop and Web browsers.
Update reminders can be a pain in daily work life, but continually putting them off can pose threats to your computer's security and cause it to run more slowly, eating up the time you were trying to save in the first place. Spring cleaning is a great time to prepare some non-computer work and let your machine run its hour-long (or maybe four-hour-long) process to optimize your system. Do this with all of your work-related devices, phones included, and don't forget to back up your files beforehand in case something goes awry.
Spring cleaning can be a rejuvenating activity, even for those who hate to clean anything, and spring cleaning your computer is no exception. Set aside time this year to clean out your digital workspace alongside your physical workspace, and you'll find your workdays moving more efficiently.