Thursday, May 9, 2013

52 UHeart Organizing: A Pretty Organized Desktop

My computer desktop has a tenancy of accumulating all sorts of clutter since it's the quickest way for me to save and find files.  But if it doesn't stay maintained, then it is no longer quick, but a headache.  Serena from Pretty Fluffy, is here today to share her solution for an organized desktop, and I couldn't be more excited to put her plan into action!




An organized desktop is a happy desktop. Now while I enjoy tarting up my real life workspaces (flowers, inspiration board, notepads…why don’t we just go live in a stationery store – deal? Deal.) – my computer desktop has always been treated like that sad junk drawer that never gets any attention.

Month after a month, I would pile in photos, links, documents, downloads, notes and all sorts of goodies until I could cram no further.  Then I’d get all angry wondering why my computer was running so slowly and why I couldn’t find that important document I wrote 5 months ago because it was buried under 500 photos of my dog (embarrassing but true).

Why? Because computer files are boring.  Organizing them doesn’t seem as fulfilling a job as organizing your pantry, or re-doing your office. But it’s important. If you use your computer on a daily basis, you need to organize that desktop.

I finally came to this realisation when it got to the stage where I was having nightmares about the state of my desktop. Was I missing invoices, losing images, and burying ideas in that mess? Who needs the stress? Not me and definitely not you.

So today I’m sharing the tips and tricks to how I went from this…


 …to THIS in less than half an hour.


STEP ONE: FOLDERS

First up, I created new folders to categorize my files. I used:

HOME // BLOG (PRETTY FLUFFY) // ARCHIVE DOCUMENTS

For you - just work out what you use the most – maybe you need a folder for each family member if it’s a shared computer. Maybe you have business files and invoices to keep. The main thing is to keep the categories to a minimum – around 3-6 is a good number.

From there I added subfolders to my main categories just to make things that bit clearer. For example in HOME you could have the subfolders BILLS, BUDGET or EBOOK LIBRARY. These can be added as you sort through your files.


STEP TWO: SORT YOUR FILES

Once I had my file categories and subfolders ready, I knew it was time to sort. I was dreading this part, but broken down into the following tasks, it took less than 20 minutes!

Internet Links
I opened each link and examined why I kept it. If it was broken or no longer relevant I hit delete. If it was for a product I wanted, or an image that caught my eye, I simply pinned it to Pinterest. Pinterest now keeps the image and the link on their cloud, without me clogging up my hard drive. Woo to the Hoo!

Photos and Images
Next move was onto photos. First up – a warning! DO NOT fall into the trap of checking yourself out in every photo and starting to wonder if you looked better as a blonde. Do this and you will be sucked down that rabbit hole so fast, you’ll find yourself sitting at the computer 4 days later wondering what happened. Just put that cotton tail in the air and get sorting!

I’ve found the easiest way to categorize photos is by saving them by date – this can be done in folders or by using photo software like iPhoto. From what I hear lots of professional photographers use this method. Simply create folders for each year/month/date labeling them ‘5.3.13 – Disneyland Vacation’. That way whenever you go to find a photo you can search chronologically. It sounds simple (cause it is) but it really is a game changer – no more photos floating all over your desktop.

  
Reading and Reference Materials
By this stage I was down to reading and reference materials – articles I’d been meaning to read for months, and DIY tutorials I’d been hoping to start (never did get around to making that melted crayon artwork.) Whatever they were, I sorted into three options – read and delete them, print them out or save them as a PDF.

Again you can pin these links to your Pinterest boards, but for the ones I really wanted to keep, I printed them or saved them as a PDF to ensure I had them for easy reference – even when the website link expires one day.

Archives and ‘Happy Files’
During the sorting step you really need to snuggle up to the trash icon. If the link was out of date, or the document was no longer needed – I got rid of it. My advice? Do you really need your budget from 2004? Be as ruthless as possible.

However if you find yourself with files that you can’t bear to delete, consider archiving them. For example, I saved my inspiration boards and notes from my wedding planning – hopefully I’ll never need them again, but I like to know they’re still there.

Another tip is to create a HAPPY FILES folder. Got sent something that made you smile?  Want to keep a file that has sentimental value? Pop it in your Happy File.  I did just that and this folder is the best digital pick me up. Whenever you’re having a bad day, just clickety-click on this file and all will be good again.

Trash and Downloads
Last but not least, I waded though my trash/deleted items and my downloads. Anything I wanted to keep I’d pop in the appropriate folder. Anything I didn’t want? It was goodbye forever and that trash was emptied.

Not only will this clean things up for you, it helps your computer go faster. All those good-for-nothing files just lazing about can find somewhere else to mooch. Am I right?



 
STEP THREE: PRETTY UP YOUR DESKTOP

With all my files now tucked away in their appropriate folders, the next step I needed was to make sure I didn’t go back to old habits. I needed a system to keep things ship shape.

Enter the organized desktop wallpaper  - which I’ve made free for you to DOWNLOADHERE. I designed this wallpaper as a place to save all my links, photos and files on my desktop daily in the appropriate categories as I’m working on them.

Found an article I want to read later? Pop it in the read section! Working on some photos and text for the blog? Over it goes into the Work section. So far this has been totally working for me.

Then each week I dedicate just 10 minutes to cleaning off the files that have gathered – archiving what I need to, deleting what I don’t, emptying out that trash basket and download folder. Then every week I start off with a fresh new desktop.

My computer is faster, I no longer have any lost files… and my desktop? It’s good as new. No more nightmares.


As a reformed desktop hoarder, I’d love to hear your tips - How do you keep your computer desktop and files organized?




"I am Serena Faber Nelson, a television producer, writer and fluffy dog owner.  Obsessed with home décor, fashion, lifestyle and dogs – I set about creating Pretty Fluffy as a go-to guide for the modern pet owner.   Featuring a range of stylish products, celebrity pooches, DIY projects and handy hints, Pretty Fluffy is a daily stop for smiles and inspiration, giving readers the tools they need to enjoy full and happy lives with their furry friends. 

My greatest loves include fresh peonies, Dirty Dancing (Nobody puts Baby in a corner), Banoffe Pie, spending waaay too much time on Pinterest, and hugging random dogs at the park.  I currently live in Sydney, Australia with my husband, Andy, and my 11 year old Border Collie, Soda. As a long time fan, I am super excited to be joining the IHeart Organizing Team!"

52 comments:

  1. i needed this today! i just deleted a whole bunch of stuff from my desktop. it's amazing how much better it is with a clean desktop!

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  2. Such a great idea! Going to have to implement this one immediately!! :D

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  3. This is fantastic! My computer files have always been in need of organizing, but I've never know where to start! I used to be a teacher, now I'm a sales rep, and I use my computer for work, personal use, and for blogging - it's so hard to keep it all straight! I'm trying this soon. And actually doing it this time!

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  4. Another choice might be not having any icons on your desktop. I've chosen this option and I'm really happy with it :)

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  5. Actually I am cleaning up my files right now. I hate how cluttered my desk top has become. Great idea on how to clean it all up.

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  6. I love this! I'm going to have to do this to my desktop - finding things are typically a nightmare!

    Thanks for sharing!

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  7. Jen thanks so much for sharing this! I needed this! Great idea! Have a great day!

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  8. The special desktop background is fantastic! My desktop is usually cluttered with loads of files that need to be sorted appropriately. Can't wait to try this out! Thanks!

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  9. What a cute desktop wallpaper! Right now, it's a 2013 calendar, but I love the categories for each file, and I might have to photoshop the two of them together somehow... Awesome idea!

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  10. great work! My desktop is also very organized: there are only four folders - trash, school, private things, hobby. LOVE IT.

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  11. You totally inspired me to clean up my desktop and files! Unfortunately, I'm not quite savvy enough to have taken before and after screen-shots, but it's SO much better! And now my desktop makes me happy. :)
    Thank you!

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  12. Wonderful topic! I have to been meaning to do this so it must go on the home project list :)

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  13. This was awesome! I love how pretty you made the desktop.

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  14. Thank you so much for this, Serena! I have been moving my pics to an external storage device....which means I now have two areas to organize :) Thanks for much for the desktop download too!

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  15. Excellent post! THANK YOU!
    I can relate to this so much...My computer got out hand and I gave simply gave up. But reading this gives me hope and inspiration. I always think it's gonna take FOREVER to tackle it and never even try.
    Thank you again.

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  16. Your wallpaper reminded me of a free application I used to use on Windows called Fences (http://www.stardock.com/products/fences/). It lets you dynamically create groupings of icons on your desktop. You can name the groups, hide or collapse them, and change the colors of the background and borders so it always matches your current wallpaper. :3

    I had to stop using it because it was acting funny with Windows 8, but it worked wonderfully when I used it on both Vista and Windows 7. Just an option for people who can't bear to part with their wallpapers!

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  17. These are great ideas, thank you!

    As far as Pinterest, I've tried, but the layout is just so clunky and cluttered it gives me a panic attack very time. I finally have to give up. I use Feedly for blogs and other sites that update, so I don't really have that many bookmarks stored anymore!

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  18. Love the wallpaper! I'm pretty good with keeping my desktop at a manageable size, but everything accumulated randomly/chronologically. Love the designated spots a lot! Thanks for sharing this with us!

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  19. Oh good, I've been needing to do this! Do you organize your pictures with iPhoto?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Laura!
      I use iPhoto for my raw images and sort them into events by date - super handy!
      Then for photos that I photoshop etc I'll save those in my Blog section under uploaded posts - again by date. :)

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  20. Above you mentioned using year/month/date as your naming convention for files, but you listed 05.03.13. That's month, day, year. I'm in marketing and deal with astronomical amounts of files for designs, photos, web content, etc and we use true year/month/date format (2013.05.03_Filename) or (130503_Filename) and it makes a world of a difference on sorting and keeping files scannable. It also allows for "spring cleaning" of files. By sorting year first, you can go back and review your files for 2012, for example. Delete what you don't need, organize it, or archive it in a folder named 2012. This is an article for more tips on file naming that is pretty good: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2385613,00.asp

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    Replies
    1. Brilliant tip Amber! at the moment, I have them in separate month folders (so the dates don't get them all out of whack!) - but this way would mean i would need that extra step. Love it!

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  21. Oh man I love this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! EXACTLY what I needed :)

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  22. Shut up! This download is clean, simple, and so cute! THANK YOU!!!

    Christine

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  23. I love the idea of making yuor own desk top wallpaper. Why not make it pretty and happy! Great idea!

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  24. Love this idea!! I usually keep the desktop organized, but this wallpaper idea is beyond awesome!!!!

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  25. Love this - Thank you so much!

    XO,
    Samm
    www.dysfunctionaleverafter.com

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  26. This is so genius! Thank you so much, Serena! I, too, am organized when it comes to my surroundings, but my computer files/email is a mess. I love your desktop wallpaper system. Thanks for sharing your brilliance! Have a great weekend, Serena and Jen!

    ~Abby =)

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  27. Thank you! I love, love {{{love}}} the wallpaper! It looks great on my Mac!

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  28. Another idea for accessing your files easily (for mac users) is to simply drag the folder(s) you want into the dock. Then whenever you click on that folder a sort of menu will pop up with whatever files are inside. You can even click on the folders within that folder without ever leaving your desktop. I find this works better for me because I like the look of a completely clear desktop (i also set my dock to hide when im not hovering over it)

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  29. Loved this article. I just got a Macbook air and was trying to figure things out for better organization. So this will probably sound ignorant to you but can you explain how to use the wallpaper you created? I downloaded it and put it up as wallpaper but now what? How do I sort things? Please help! : )

    ~Leiden

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    1. Thankyou Leiden! Now that you have your desktop up, just drag any files you want in the relevant section of the desktop. For example if you want to save an internet link to this post to read it later, just drag it to your read section.
      Then each week you can clean up your desktop and file everything away as described in Steps 1 and 2. Enjoy! :)

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    2. If you are in 'finder' go to view, show view options (or press command J), then in the drop down menu that says 'sort by' pick "NONE". That should allow you to move the icons wherever you want them.

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  30. Will downloading the wallpaper work on any PC or is it just for Apple?

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  31. Yes, please! Very good solution!!
    Actually the digital clutter is what scares me the most. Never know what I will need at some point and what not. In general it helped Evernote. I use it to organize the notes I usually write when I am at the pc, so I don't have to create millions of files. But when you download files in your pc is just different.

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  32. Thank you, I love the wallpaper!!

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  33. I really need to do this..my desktop and laptop is so cluttered and I really hate clutter:) I am so doing this today!

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  34. Just sorted my desktop on my work PC with your wallpaper.... Iheartit. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

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  35. GREAT idea... I have my desktop arranged, but had never thought of making a wallpaper to keep it organized!! Thanks!

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  36. Thank you so much I LOVE It!!! I have a PC, but was wondering how did you get your files to be highlighted a different color. That would be so helpful. I am so visual, but everything looks the same on my computer.

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  37. I just currently started making my own desktop organizers thanks to this post! I never used icons because I hated how they looked and now, since I could easily personalize it, I just love them! Thank you so much for this!

    Diana Rose at
    http://brideyedandbushytailed.blogspot.com

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  38. Than you so much! I just put this on my computer after I personalized some of the headings in PS and I love it! I didn't even think about doing this. You are brilliant!

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  39. Great post! I would also like to stress the importance of regularly backing up your files.

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  40. Oh, that's such a great idea to organize all the files!
    But I think I have to make a different version for my own, which fit better. (Something like "university-stuff", "working-stuff", "pictures/photography" and… ahem … "all the rest")
    Oh, I'm a little bit excited to make such a wallpaper! Is that strange? It is, right? Doesn't matter…

    Love, Midsommarflicka

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  41. I love the look of your desktop so decided to give it a go myself. I used your download but I have to say, it's really bright. I only keep at most a dozen icons on my desktop and against the download I couldn't read the labels for the icons. I couldn't find a way on my macbook to change the color of the font for icon labels. How do you read the labels for your icons against the white background?

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  42. I love the clean look of the wallpaper! I downloaded it for my PC and sorted everything appropriately. Once I restarted my system-due to misc. software updates- all of the documents were relocated outside of my categories and realigned along the left side of my screen. I had to resort them again. Is there a way to prevent this from happening again?

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  43. I love this desktop i must say i use it all the time and makes finding files way less challenging lol

    Houseoffuentes.blogspot.com

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  44. Loved this! I was just cleaning off my laptop and needed some little pushes when it came to certain things such as pictures and my desktop. This desktop background was just what I needed thank you!

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  45. I just came across this today and did it for my work computer. (Had to make my own background but still.) Um, it's RIDICULOUS how happy it makes me to look at my desktop now. :)

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  46. You can also download really cute folder icons to customize your desktop folders! I like to use http://pixelgirlpresents.com/ because there are so many options! My desktop is always cute and clean :)

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  47. I love this little tutorial on organization... my computer files are a mess, and now I feel a bit more motivation to get them together.
    As a professional photographer, I'd like to say that sorting the files by date is a great way to do it - but it's even better to do year-month-day. That way it's in the most chronological order possible. :)

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