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20 Jun

Clean up a mess when you stumble upon it anyway

Date: 2017-06-20 19:43 Comments: 0 st

Our storage spaces and the amount of materials we save there can get out of hand so easily. Suddenly there is more of everything everywhere - digital documents is just one example. We save away and save some more, create new ones and add to the rest. Whatever location we save them in gets more documents added to it by the day - new and old, some temporarily practical and some crucial in the long-run.

Even if we usually search for the documents we need to find (and therefore don’t often poke around in the folders or locations they are saved in), we sometimes have to stop for a minute to figure out which one of the seven almost identically named files that the search located for us or that are in the same folder, that is the right one. We hesitate, guess and open one of them. Nope, that wasn’t the one. Perhaps it is the one next to the first? Yes, that was it.

Come to a sudden halt
We are held up in our progress and even if we do not have to be moving at full speed all day long, we can get frustrated by having to stop in the middle of our task and look for the material we need. I would personally rather take a break when I choose to, than be made to stop the flow I was in due to this small glitch.

A little and often, instead of a lot and never
It will always benefit you if you remove the files that are no longer relevant and up-do-date since you will find those that are faster, but how often can we make time for cleaning out the old? When does sorting and cleaning amongst our files and folders ever get highly prioritized? Probably not until the situation becomes unbearable, when the mess becomes so immense that it reduce our possibilities to do our job and accomplish the goals we are responsible for. I’m guessing that is when the task ”Clean out old files” becomes both urgent and important.

And it’s about time. Until this moment, before the mess in our digital storage system got to the brink of complete meltdown, we have suffered and been frustrated regarding the tedious and annoying steeplechase we have been running trying to find the right file amongst all the wrong ones.

But if we do a ”quick-clean” in the folder we are opening something from when we are there anyway, we will improve our situation ever so slightly, but still little by little make our folder structure tidier without exerting much effort.

Do this
If you want to find the documents you are looking for a little faster from now on, do this:

  1. Decide to do a quick sweep when you are browsing through folders while searching for documents during the next week ahead. So, when you are ”in” a folder on your own computer, on a common file server, in OneDrive, in Dropbox, in GoogleDrive or some other location in which you keep files and documents - before you leave the folder after having found what you were looking for, take a quick look around and see if there is any (if only one) file that you could remove. When you initially saved the file, you thought that it would be useful to you. But as time has passed and things have changed, you know that it is no longer relevant.

  2. Remove the document.

  3. Take another quick look. Are there any more you could get rid of while you are at it?

  4. When a week has passed from now, reflect for a minute if you have gotten rid of more documents than you otherwise would have. If this new habit of micro-cleaning made a difference, simply continue doing it.

Find it with ease
If you do a quick sweep for files you can remove in any locations you pass through when looking for files, you will eventually have fewer irrelevant and outdated documents obscuring your view of relevant material. You might not get around to going through every place and folder where you store information and documents, but you will get to have a look at the places you visit most frequently. And even if the effort may be small, the effect will be significant. If you take this tip to heart, you do not have to set aside time for cleaning out your folders, and you will get the great feeling derived from throwing away the obsolete, which is reason enough to get right to it if you ask me.

What is your method?
How do you gradually get rid of digital items blocking the view of the relevant documents? Share your tip and experience if you want in a comment below. 

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