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Spring Clean: Digital Documents and Folders

In a tech world, spring cleaning extends beyond just the physical surfaces of the home to the digital landscape of computers, phones, tablets, kindles, pads, etc. From cluttered photo apps to random folders labeled "Important" or "Home", it's about time we all took a serious look at the digital clutter in our lives.

Because this task is a daunting one, I wanted to break it down and share some handy tips and helpful apps that can make this process a little easier.

Keep reading to discover:

  • tips on creating a digital organization system
  • apps on your phone and computer that will cut down your digital clutter
  • how to physically keep your tech clean

How to Create a Digital Organization System

If you're reading this and are over the age of 15 there are likely documents, files, photos, and notes that you'll need to keep in a safe and secure spot.

Maybe a transcript or college essay as a high school senior, medical records for the inevitable doctor dance as a college student, or tax returns as an adult – believe me, you want to keep your tax returns handy.

And, more often then not all these things won't come into your possession in a physical form. They'll be attached to an email, linked in a Dropbox folder, shared via Google Doc – literally so many ways important files are shared to us these days. So, unless you're dead set on printing and filing all these docs and forms, you'll need a very precise way to access these documents in the future.

Here are four easy steps to start this process:

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ONE | Find a cloud-based file storage system that works for you

Depending on your operating system (Apple or Windows) you may have access to different things or a different preference, but either way find a system that can be accessed if something happened to your device. Say for instance you dropped your computer and it just wouldn't turn back on, unless you were diligent about backing up your computer to a hard drive every 10 days all your folders, documents, photos, etc. wouldn't ever be accessed again.

Which is the importance of a cloud-based storage system. They're accessible via login no matter the device. There are many on the market these days – most you'll have a small monthly fee for:

  • iDrive
  • Microsoft OneDrive
  • Google Drive
  • Dropbox
  • box
  • Apple iCloud Drive (what I personally use)

I don't really know if one is better than another. I use Dropbox for certain things - specifically documents and photos I need to share – but the rest of my information is kept in folders in iCloud.

TWO | Create folders in your account for broad categories of documents

Whatever cloud service you use to store your documents you'll want to create folders inside of that – broad to begin with) that easily breakdown your documents, notes, and files. Folders like:

  • Taxes
  • House
  • School
  • Doctor
  • Photos
  • Brand Assets (specific to my brand)
  • Pictures
  • Wedding ( I could probably delete this now that we're coming up on our 5 year anniversary lol)
  • Clients (again specific to my brand)
  • Family

These general folders just act as a point of reference and cut down on my time trying to search for something specific.

THREE | Inside those folders create subfolders for the specifics

To cut down time searching even further start making subfolders as needed. Mine look a little like:

  • Taxes > Tax Year > Tax Return / Business Expenses / Business Receipts > Confirmation of taxes paid
  • House > Exterminator / HVAC / Refinancing Docs / Mortgage Info / Contractor
  • Wedding > Wedding Photos / Engagement Photos / Thank you note document / vendor contracts

You can obviously get as specific as you want or need, but this process is really going to simplify your documents. And, when in doubt, you can just add a new folder and put that new document in it even if you have no idea if you'll ever need it again.

Sort through your current files

I mean click on every folder you have tucked away in your computer – and condense it all into your account. Go thorough those folders that are labeled "Desktop" and "Random" and "Photos". You honestly never know what you might and since you already have your important docs system in place you'll be able to move things over and delete unnecessary folders without thinking you're losing anything.

Apps to Keep the Clutter At Bay

  • Adobe Scan – tired of physical documents taking up space? Scan them all into digital forms and shred the physical ones.
  • Slidebox – for organizing your photos, videos and memories on your phone.
  • PhotoScan – lets you scan and send your photos to designated folders on your computer
  • Utiful – another photo organizing app for your phone
  • Folders right on your iPhone home screen
  • Todoist for simply keeping track of tasks and to dos
  • Expensify – if you're a small business owner you can drown in receipts so fast. This app scans and manages those receipts.
  • Smiling Mind – not an organization app but a mindfulness-focused one that's free and delightful to use.
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How to Keep Your Tech Physically Clean

While I know this is not part of organizing digital clutter, there's something so satisfying about organizing your computer and then cleaning your actual computer or phone. There are countless disgusting germs on all tech devices and we don't clean them nearly as often, so these are the products I like to use on mine.