Take out your virtual broom and clean up your virtual desktop

The third Monday of October is “National Clean Up Your Virtual Desktop Day” – a day which should be highlighted in any business owner’s calendar.

If you are like most computer users, your desktop and various computer files are a mess. Documents that you haven’t touched in decades are mingled with pictures from your last vacation, which are – for some reason – filed under Music. You’ve got a dozen apps that need updates and your desktop is cluttered with the documents and scans from your last project.

If the wood or metal desk you sit at is a mess, it is hard to concentrate fully on what you’re doing; spending a few moments each morning clearing off your desk will make your day significantly more productive.

The same principle applies to your computer desktop. Clean it up to help yourself maintain a calm and efficient work zone. A clean desktop and tidy files are also imperative to good record keeping and good computer maintenance. It’s hard to do regular backups on your most important data if you can’t find your data.

First, get organized by setting up a filing structure. Create master folders for departments or areas of business, with sub folders for months, quarters, projects, or other divisions according to how your business operates. Be sure to keep financial records separate and protected!

Be sure that your file names are always unique, match up with your standard company file-naming rules, and are easy to scan in a hurry. Regularly reinforce your naming system to be sure that your whole team is using it properly. That will make file sharing easier and really help when employees change positions and new employees are added to your team.

Tip: If you download or create files you KNOW you won’t need beyond one use, store them in a file named something like “Throwaway” so you can dump them in the trash without having to give them a second thought. Also, don’t let important files linger in a “Downloads” folder – immediately rename them and store them properly.

For files you don’t want to delete entirely, create a backup of a zip file, or store a zip on the cloud in a service like Dropbox. Then delete the originals from your desktop and breathe a sigh of relief at the lost baggage.

Set aside some regular time in your schedule to keep your files and folders organized. It would also be a great time to regularly change passwords, check security, and give your system a quick assessment to be sure it’s still serving all your needs. National Clean Your Virtual Desktop Day is a fantastic time for getting everything in order so that you can focus fully on your passion.

Finally, this advice applies to your employees as well. When they have disorganized and cluttered computers, you are losing productivity and it’s the kind of lost productivity that you never see. It’s a constant drip-drip-drip of time lost to hunting down files or recreating files that already exist but can’t be found when needed.