Remember when you first unboxed your laptop? The screen was smudge-free, the keyboard didn’t have lunch crumbs lodged between keys, and it held a sense of newness similar to a freshly minted car. Now, you’ve got a smeary screen and an unkempt virtual desktop full of disorganized and long-forgotten files. Just as a real desktop must be cleaned from time to time, virtual desktops need uncluttering, too.
What better time than “Clean Your Virtual Desktop Day”? This is celebrated the third Monday of every October.
Why Clean Your Virtual Desktop?
There’s a lot of pressure to keep one’s physical space clean, but no one can see your virtual one, so what’s the big deal? As it turns out, there are many benefits to cleaning your virtual desktop. Consider the following:
- It saves time. Time is the most scarce and valuable commodity that any of us have. Think about how much time you spend waiting for a slow computer to load, searching for inefficiently stored files or wading through saved photos that will never be needed again. By organizing your virtual desktop, you’ll be giving yourself something truly priceless: time.
- It boosts your performance. A cluttered desktop isn’t just a time suck; it’s also a performance zapper. A computer groaning under the weight of unused apps, long-silenced games, family photos, videos of your child’s Christmas play, project spreadsheets from 2007 and all those other unnecessary files can run slow and, more crucially, cause you to run slower. You won’t be as productive. Your work won’t be as crisp in an environment that resembles a virtual junkyard. Yes, some creative types will argue that they can’t create when things are neat and orderly, but that’s like a painter saying they paint best on a ripped canvas. One can’t create if conditions stifle creativity, and a virtual desktop in disarray does just that.
- It increases cybersecurity. The reality is that a disorganized desktop is a dangerous desktop, at least in the virtual world. When you forego firewalls, encryption and organized filing, you are leaving your virtual valuables out in the open for someone to take. You’d never leave your most valuable possessions on your entryway table, you’d hide them in a safe behind a painting, or store them behind some books. Do the same with your virtual valuables.
- It’s the law. Reiterating those cybersecurity concerns: If you are working in finance, insurance, education or healthcare, there are increasingly stringent regulations governing data storage. If you are leaving protected health information in an unsecured spreadsheet, you aren’t just reckless; you’re violating HIPAA protections and the law.
How to Unclutter Your Digital Space
Now that you know why it is essential, let’s explore some easy steps you can take to tidy up your virtual desktop. Try these practices on Clean Your Virtual Desktop Day or whenever you’re ready to unclutter your digital space.
- Reach for the cloud. Free up valuable storage space on your computer and watch its performance improve by unloading excess virtual baggage in the cloud. More and more businesses are doing away with onsite storage and moving to a cloud-based system. While the cloud has security issues of its own, you can at least free up time and space.
- Use folders. Virtual desktop cleaning isn’t rocket science. Neither is eating your vegetables. People just don’t do it. Don’t make your desktop your de facto filing system. You’ll waste time looking for stuff when you need it, and you’ll slow down your computer. For various reasons, you may find yourself in a situation when you have to give someone remote access to your computer to solve a technical issue or do some work. Do you want your bank statements or family photos from Siesta Key visible for all? Folders not only keep you organized, but they also help to keep sensitive files private.
- Clear your inbox: Do you have 164,957 emails in your inbox? Make Clean Your Virtual Desktop Day the day you do something about that, too. Using your email as a file saving system can make some sense, but the hundreds of unread emails from the seed company you signed up for when you bought last year’s perennials may not make sense anymore. So, spend part of the day whittling down your list of subscription and marketing emails. Get rid of unread marketing emails from merchants and the daily updates from the newspaper you never seem to find time to read. Delete them and unsubscribe.
Each desktop is different. The messes on a virtual desktop are as varied as the personalities who use them, but Clean Your Virtual Desktop Day is an attempt to unite everyone with a common cause. Use the day wisely, and regain the time and creativity your messy desktop has consumed.