The Digital De-Clutter

What happened to the days when people would look up phone books to find out phone numbers, when computers were only used to type out documents, and when beepers paged us? They're far gone. it seems.

In the age of multiple accounts, a plethora of accessories and the constant need to be online, we have cluttered our lives with devices, computers and phones. We are swimming in the vast ocean of information and thanks to technology, that ocean is only getting bigger and deeper.

Just take a look at the smart phone; in the space of a beep and buzz, they signal if people are calling, smsing or emailing us. If that's not all, the computer tells us when we've been tagged on Facebook, mentioned on Twitter and been sent an invite to view a Flickr album.

Once upon a time, a messy desktop meant that your workspace was cluttered with bulky files and folders, stray papers running amok around it all. Now, it means that your virtual desktop is pretty much the same—if not as real. The digital age promised us a life free of clutter. It seems to have done quite the opposite; in fact, some people say it has exacerbated the issue. However, there are ways around the problem too. Technology can still save us.

The key isn't to keep folders and folders meticulously tucked away in your computer. That won't help you find what you're looking for because quite simply, we can't be asked to remember each and everything. How can technology help you find them? The answer is simple: search.

Searching on the computer is far quicker than it is offline. Don't go for organising folders; just go with properly naming files and documents. If need be, put in dates as a part of the filename so that when you search you can use the dates as a key. There are many programmes that help you streamline your searching also, like Google Desktop for Windows OS and Quicksilver for the Mac OS.

Paper can also come in use here. When you have multiple backups on DVDs or portable HDs, it's a good idea to have a printout of the file trees to let you help find that file you're looking for. Just take a screenshot of the contents of the DVD or HD and keep it in a folder. It is much quicker and a lesser hassle than to check each and every DVD you may have.

Multiple social networking accounts bogging you down? Don't worry, use sites like hootsuite and ping.fm to keep in touch with all of your accounts within one single website. It saves the hassle of logging in and out over and over again.

Finally, there's the tricky task of managing passwords. There are numerous programmes that help you manage your passwords. But the fact of the matter is, in this digital day and age are we truly secure with sharing or storing our passwords someplace? The only manageable answer here is to do what suits you best.

Some people prefer to have their passwords written down—albeit in a safe location. Some people prefer to keep their passwords within the confines of their memory—with some rather drastic outcomes. Whatever your password quirk maybe, it is imperative to change your password every three months or so. This helps protect you against any forms of hackings or digital attacks.

Finally, the decision to de-clutter also involves one big aspect: you. The user must have the drive within them to be able to de-clutter their lives and to seek out efficiency. Just because it is digital doesn't mean it may help you. Seek out other offline methods if they are better suited to your needs.

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