Spring has officially sprung, and while you may be thinking about the yearly cleanup of your home or the seasonal shifts to make to your nutrition and exercise plan, consider adding your digital devices to the list.
Computers, in particular, can often use some attention. For instance, when was the last time you deleted old files, backed up important images, organized the folders, or took measures to ensure your device is secure?
Taking the time to organize and update your virtual space is not only rewarding, it can actually impact other areas of your life. In fact, you may be surprised at how interconnected the areas (and messes) in our life can be.
“If your computer is not organized, nine times out of 10 there are other things in your life that are not organized either,” says Frederick Handy, senior technology innovation engineer for Life Time Work. “It’s funny how when you take the time to organize one aspect of your life, the other pieces tend to start falling into place as well.”
“Even simply taking the time to better organize your desktop so you shorten your search for files can save you 10 to 15 minutes in a day,” Handy notes. “Why not put that time to work toward your healthy-living habits instead? In 10 to 15 minutes you can complete a quick body stretch, wash and chop some veggies, or do a restorative breathing exercise. It’s interesting that something as seemingly mundane as organizing your computer could lead to other positive impacts to your health.”
These are the six tips Handy suggests for cleaning and securing your digital spaces this season:
1. Create an organizational system. “How you take notes, organize your documents, and visualize what you have to do throughout the day is essential to productivity,” says Handy. If you work as part of a group, it’s also important to have team-wide systems in place for collaboration. Handy suggests Google Drive, OneNote, and web-based apps such as Notion or Coda as being helpful tools.
2. Clean up your desktop and folders. Can you find any given file you might need in less than 10 seconds? If the answer is no, your desktop and folders likely need some attention. Handy recommends using storage features, such as iCloud or Google Drive, which can double for assisting with organization and serving as backup.
3. Develop a file nomenclature. “People often have weird names for their folders or have a habit of labeling without purpose,” says Handy. “When creating a new folder and naming a new document, first ask yourself if someone else would be able to find it on your computer if they only had an idea of what to look for.” Develop a logical naming system and be consistent with it.
4. Make sure your device is up to date. Computers, like smart phones, aren’t built to be functional for decades. “The manufacturer is typically expecting you to upgrade every two to three years,” says Handy. “People typically embrace this with phones, but then often stretch the life of their computer beyond what it was ever meant to have.” In between replacements, keep up with software, program, and other updates to keep your device running smoothly.
5. Set up a two-step verification system. “More important than having a strong password is having two-step verification,” says Handy. “You can have the strongest password in the world, but if you don’t have a secondary layer of verification, you’re not fully secure.”
6. Take a look at your internet behavior. “You can pay for virus protection, but there are also preventative measures you can implement yourself,” says Handy. “Ask yourself, ‘Do I go to websites that have a million pop-ups and accept every one?’ or ‘Do I know exactly what types of programs or software I’m downloading?’” Unfortunately not all spaces on the internet are safe, so it’s critical to be cautious of the sites you visit, about the information you share, and the links you click.