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Maybe you haven’t seen TLC’s reality show Hoarding: Buried Alive, but you probably know a thing or two about hoarders and the chaotic states of their homes. Now here is something you most likely know nothing about: information hoarding.

We have so much accessible information today, but we too often try to hold on to as much as possible. The result? Cyber clutter. It can deprive you of time and sanity, so now that you have (hopefully) gotten through spring cleaning your home and workspace, it’s time to give your computer some attention. Here are a few tips that can help you get organized and keep you off TLC’s next reality show venture.

Run anti-virus software.

Don’t just do this at the beginning of spring. Make it a monthly habit. If you’re like most people of the 21st century, your computer is practically an extension of you. Your business and personal life often depend on it, so keep it healthy.

Sort your mail.

If you have hundreds of messages in your inbox, it can be hard to manage. Ideally, you can get your emails down to a reasonable number with a little organization. Most major email programs let you set up a filing system, and you should take advantage of that. Sort messages according to date, project, sender, etc. You have a million options, so find whichever one best suits you. And if you don’t need an email, put it in the trash. In case you feel hesitant, think of it as one of those useless coupons or obscure catalogs that somehow always end up in your actual mailbox. You wouldn’t bother saving those, right? Okay, if it bothers you that much, file them in a “miscellaneous” folder.

Delete duplicates.

One may be the loneliest number, but the files on your computer are best left single. Multiples of the same files can deprive your hard drive of precious space and get in your way the next time you need to find something ASAP. If you don’t know which files on your computer have clones floating around somewhere, a few programs can help. Try Duplicate Cleaner or Digital Volcano.

Throw away unused files.

They’re just collecting cyber dust. Before you decide to delete, however, you should ask yourself a few questions. When was the last time you used this file? If you delete it, will you regret the decision in the future? Can you find a copy of the file somewhere else if need be? Do you have a hard copy? 

Organize your files.

This will save you so much time in the long run. If you waste just ten minutes a day trying to locate files, you end up wasting over five full workdays each year. Keep currently relevant files on your desktop for quick access and neatly file the rest away. Folders are your friends, but if you’re in the market for some more serious companionship, check out a search-friendly application such as Evernote. It lets you attach various media to one labeled location, and it syncs to your mobile devices.

Uninstall unused software.

We often forget that computers are not all-powerful, so we just keep installing more and more programs. Then one day your computer “randomly” shuts down or just does not work quite as well as it once did. That’s the machine’s way of asking for some detox. Try a free cleaning application like CCleaner to bring your computer up to speed.

These steps will add to your productivity and save you time, frustration and money. Remember to try and ditch the cyber clutter every month, so it does not become a huge project every spring. After all, wouldn’t your time be better spent soaking up some sun than sitting in front of a screen?


Photo Credit: Mr.Tea via Compfight cc

Stephanie Brennan
Stephanie Brennan is a communications intern at Citrix Online and a full-time student enjoying all the benefits of workshifting. She will graduate this year from UC Santa Barbara with a B.A. in English and a Minor in Professional Editing. She loves to travel and studied abroad at the University of Hong Kong. When she isn’t writing, she volunteers at the local dog shelter and indulges in the delicious food fare of Santa Barbara.
  • http://www.hhresources.net/about-us/ Decluttering Services BC

    Left a compulsive hoarder trapped for 30 hours after getting stuck under a mountain of his own mess .

  • Taylor W

    That’s very useful. Thanks for sharing but for me, I usually use IObit Uninstaller http://www.iobit.com/advanceduninstaller.php to delete the registry one-off when I uninstall apps and there’s no leftover.

  • tstname

    Hi Stephanie Brennan, There is a better tool to find duplicate and similar photos on Windows PC… It even finds them if they are rotated or resized. I think you should try this “Ashisoft Duplicate Photo Finder”