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Is Having All Those Shortcuts on Your Desktop Really a Shortcut? How to De-Clutter Your Desktop to Save Time and Confusion

Posted by Shreve, Leslie at Friday, 05/18/2012 12:24 pm
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2.7 from 20 votes
Can you see the desktop photo of your family, your kids or your favorite vacation spot? No? Could it be because your desktop is full of e-docs and e-files you were afraid to lose?

I find that people use shortcuts for files and documents on their desktop because they don’t trust they’ll find things in their computer. It feels more secure. Is that how it feels for you too?

In my years of consulting, this approach has still not relieved my clients of their fears and at times it becomes a confusing time waster. They don’t remember where they put it and when they look at their desktop, there’s no order and they can’t easily find anything.

Picture this: your electronic files, like your physical files, are a reference library. It’s your library, full of information you’ve opted to keep for future reference. Like library books that get replaced on a shelf, your e-docs should be saved in the computer when you’re finished with them – in a way that’s logical and organized.

However, if you leave a lot of documents and files out on your desktop, it’s like leaving books out on the library tables and not putting them away. It would be hard to find a book again when it’s not organized on the shelf wouldn’t it?

The process of finding a book on a shelf is like finding a file in your computer. You should be able to use your system to find it in seconds. If you can’t, it’s a sign that you’ve not organized your information and as a result you’re system is confusing - one you don’t trust or rely on.

I strongly recommend consolidating all of your e-docs and files into your most used drive – whether it’s the C: drive, My Documents, a shared drive, etc… and remove the shortcuts to your desktop. Here are 5 easy steps you can take to clean up your desktop and begin creating an e-file system you can trust.

1.       Organize one folder at a time
Start with a sub-folder if the main folders are too big. Do a little at a time. Simplify everything and eliminate what you can! Be honest with yourself about what you’ll look at, look for and use again.

2.       Organize the documents you keep in groups according to major categories
Group information according to departments, programs, projects, functions, etc… When categories grow, divide them into smaller sub-categories. You may need sub-categories for your sub-categories, but always start BIG and then break it down.

3.       Eliminate all short cuts to documents and folders on your desktop
Organize things previously stored on your desktop into your new e-file system and begin to use and trust this system behind the scenes. The stronger you make it, the more support it will give you when you need it the most.

4.       Eliminate software icons you don’t need on your desktop
Leave only the software programs you use most often and organize them on the left side of your screen or in groupings around the screen to help you find what you need when you need it.

5.       Keep it open all day
Open your computer file program first thing in the morning when you open your e-mail program. It’s just like Outlook, the Internet and other software you use all day. Keep them minimized when not in use, but open and available at all times.

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