I like to start a new year with a big declutter and refresh as it feels good to say goodbye to the old and welcome in the new. I also like to do this for my business.
Before I do my planning for the new year I like to ease into that mind space by doing something for my business that isn’t a big energy drain yet achieves a lot. That could be letting go of freebies I’m never going to read, deleting emails that haven’t been opened since January last year or putting my photos in the right place.
There is nothing more calming than seeing my Google Drive folder perfectly organised, and coloured coded. From that space of calm I feel like I can do anything.
Have your unorganised files been driving your crazy? Are you suffering from digital declutter shame as you can’t remember the last time you organised any of that stuff?
Let’s empty out our digital junk drawers so that we can reclaim our creative energy.
What I Decluttered . . .
1. Facebook Saves
When I see a post on FB that I like I’ll save it. Maybe it’s a quote that I’d like to share later or a video I want to watch (didn’t know you could save posts? Click on the drop down arrow at the top right of a post for options).
The problem was that I wasn’t going back to review those saved posts. I kept saving and saving…
Until I had a mess of 100s and 100s of saved posts!
There are two ways to fix this – the delete button and Collections. While it was tempting to delete all of the saves and start afresh, I knew there were some posts that were definitely worth saving so I saved both ways.
The Collections option is a handy tool within FB Saves which allows you to group the posts you saved into different groups. I like to share quotes and funny memes/videos on my FB page so I created a collection for each of those. Then it was a simple tasks of moving the saves into those collections. Anything that didn’t go into a collection got deleted.
Now it’s so much easier to find what I need.
Take a look at your FB groups too. Do they align with your goals for the year? Are they simply for fun? Leave the ones that aren’t serving you anymore.
2. Bookmarks & Favourites
There you are, browsing away on the internet. Oh! That’s a great article I’ll save it to come back to it later.
Except later never comes and you end up with a long list of titles that are a complete mess. Why did I save that again?
As you can see, saving things is a recurring issue for me. There is SO much I want to read!
I organised my favourites in the same way as my FB saves; creating folders for the information I knew it would be useful to have and deleting the rest.
3. Screenshots & Downloads
Your screenshots and downloads folders can become whole filing systems in themselves if you’re not careful.
The best method I’ve found of dealing with them is simply to use that space as a very temporary holding ground. When I download something, or take a screen shot, I move it straight to the folder where it will live permanently. I also rename the files so I can recognise what they are right away.
4. Your inbox
Emails can get out of hand so quickly. There are client emails, emails you subscribed to and emails you have no idea why you’re getting them!
I have four email addresses – Gmail (because I needed it to join a particular program), Business Strategy email, Photography email and Personal email.
When I subscribe to a person’s email list I use my personal email, that way the only emails in my business account are from my clients.
Last year I didn’t keep on top of the emails in my personal account as well as I wanted so I got ruthless and unsubscribed from any emails that don’t bring me a ton of value. I also deleted anything that was over 6 months old and unread – if I hadn’t read it already it was unlikely that I was going to. It’s likely that I’ll go back and delete anything that’s over 3 months old.
I don’t have a goal of zero emails in my inbox but I do love to see space at the bottom of my email account (which is around 10 emails). I did get down to two emails in my inbox before Christmas and that felt fabulous.
5. Taking control of your emails
Did you know that you can choose when, and where, you read your emails? “Ahh of course” I hear you say as you wonder how many coffees I’ve had while writing this.
Before you start a coffee intervention I wanted to point out that so many of us spend a HUGE part of our day reacting to emails rather than being in control of them. I do this myself. If I’ve been foolish enough to leave my emails open and a new message flashes I can’t help but go see what it is.
This is a monumental waste of our creative energy.
I have two ways to combat that waste of energy.
- Set up filters for the emails that will be coming in so they automatically go into the folders that you’ve set up to receive them (and never touch your inbox). I do this for the emails I’ve signed up to get as I know I want to read them but not right away. By diverting them into folders they don’t clog up my inbox.
- Schedule a time in your day to read your emails. I have a half hour slot scheduled into my calendar to check my emails – usually before or after lunch. This allows me to get a good chunk of work done before I even look at my emails.
6. Document storage
Where do you store your documents? Do you have them in one primary place or are they spread across your laptop and Google Drive and Dropbox and….
You want to make finding your documents as easy as possible so I’d suggest choosing one primary place to store them. For me that’s my laptop.
I do have some documents in Google Drive, for when I want to easily share them with a client. I also use Dropbox to store some personal information online.
Having all of my documents stored away, using a simple file structure, makes me very happy. I can operate my business from a place of calm and confidence knowing exactly where everything is.
I’d suggest mapping out your folder structure on paper first so that it makes sense to you before you create it on line. If you need some guidance then grab a copy of the free File Organisation Template that I created for you…
When I get to the end of a year I move old blog posts, newsletters etc into an archive folder. It’s another way to keep my files tidy.
We take a lot of photos these days, yet many of them never see the light of day as they sit on our phones and cameras.
By having your photos organised they’re easier to find and to share.
I’m a photographer as well as a business strategist so it’s really important for me to be able to easily find photos. I use a catalog within Lightroom to organise mine – you could use folders to organise your photos.
8. Broken links
Having broken links on your website can hurt your SEO so it’s a good idea to regularly check and fix broken links on your website.
I use a wordpress plug in called Broken Link Checker. It emails me when any of my links are broken so I can quickly fix the problem.
9. Business Metrics
Do you track the metrics in your business? Your website visitors? Your email open and click through rates?
The start of the year is a good time to either get this set up for your business or to ensure that you have all of the numbers for the past year recorded (so that you can review them while doing your planning for the new year).
As I worked through my metrics I realised that I hadn’t recorded my open rates and click through rates for some of the year. Finalising those numbers, and working out my averages, helped me set my goals for this year.
Backing up your work (and personal photos and files) isn’t the sexiest of topics but you’ll get your knickers in a twist if your hardware fails and you don’t have a back up!
You need a system in place to back up each of your devices (laptop, phone, tablet) and your external hard drives. At some point those devices will all fail. It’s simply a case of when.
If you use the cloud to back up to, please regularly check that your files are actually being backed up. I’ve known of friends who thought everything was backing up to the cloud automatically only to discover there was a glitch and they’d not backed up for months.
Always back up at least two locations. Two external hard drives. One external hard drive and the cloud. You choose.
All of my information is continuously backed up to the cloud using a service called Back Blaze. I also manually back up once a week to an external hard drive.
I’ve had issues with my laptop before which meant that I had to wipe it completely – twice. I had no warning of any issues so without my back ups I would’ve lost everything. If you’re looking for a cloud back up I can highly recommend the team at Back Blaze – their customer support was excellent.
Time for a declutter
If you have digital clutter shame you know it’s not going to go away until you take action.
This mess didn’t happen overnight, it took years of dedicated hoarding to get this way. So it will take you awhile to do a full declutter and have it all looking sparkling and.
Start small so that it’s not too overwhelming. Declutter your smallest digital junk drawer first and go from there.
How do you like to start a new year? If having organised digital files is driving you crazy then book in a Declutter Your Digital Life session with me. During our session we’ll work through simple ways to go from chaos to calm.