Spring cleaning tips for your digital workspace

by
Nikki Macaraeg
Published:
March 28, 2022

The sun is shining, the birds (and most Canadians) are singing; it's time for spring cleaning! 

But we're not talking about spring cleaning your house or even your backyard. When's the last time you cleaned up your digital space? Your inbox, your files and folders, your photos, etc.

We've got some digital spring cleaning tips to help you bring your workspace out of the winter pile-up, because spring has sprung! 

  1. Inbox clean-up

Do you start every day deleting subscriptions and newsletters that you no longer look at? Better yet, do you just skip over them? Or, is the search tool your best friend and your inbox your greatest enemy? Imagine if every single email was a piece of paper on your desk. Yikes. 

We're going for big steps here, people! 

Unsubscribe from those pesky subscriptions - you took two minutes to sign up; take another 30 seconds to scroll down to the bottom of the email and hit 'unsubscribe.' Or, use an app like Unroll.me to automatically unsubscribe you from newsletters you never open. 

  • Create folders - whether by the sender, topic or project. Then use your BFF search tool and move these messages from your inbox into folders. This will give you a better picture of your unique senders and allow you to gather related messages in one place.
  • Use the archive function - it's an easy way to clean up your inbox without deleting emails. Emails older than three months are typically safe to archive; if replies come in from archived emails, no worry, they'll go into your (clean) inbox! 
  • Try the zero inbox challenge - do you remember when you first set up your email, and there was nothing in your inbox? #nostalgic It's a hefty challenge, but we believe in you! 
  • Advanced tip: create filters in Google Gmail or rules in Microsoft Outlook - this will instantly file messages from specific individuals or domains into specific places, like newly created folders or even into your trash, whatever you want. 

  1. Find the bottom of your download folder

Everything we take from the internet falls into our Download folder - documents, contracts, pictures, videos, zip files and unzipped files. every. thing. 

The best approach is a slow and steady one. Pick a place to create new folders, preferably outside of your Download folder, and split your screen into two windows - one will be the Download folder, the other is wherever you've decided to create your new flashy list of folders. 

Go file-by-file, either by date downloaded or file name, create relevantly-named folders and move items as you go. And yes, you can also move files into your trash!  

If you go by date, you'll see how long files have been sitting, maybe untouched; by file name will show you the duplicates of duplicates - have you ever seen a (7) at the end of a file name? Double yikes.

  1. Cancel accounts and uninstall apps

Technology is constantly changing; new programs and apps pop up every day. And like those darn newsletters, we sign up for free trials and download all the apps. So if your desktop and/or home screen look like an undone jigsaw puzzle, it may be time to clean things up. 

It's very likely you're not using everything you thought would be helpful. As you go through your inbox, keep your eyes peeled for free trials or unfamiliar sign-ups; take the opportunity to cancel these accounts if you're not using them. You can see your least used apps in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. Select and uninstall! 

This will also get your emails, usernames and passwords out of the wrong hands, i.e. hackers and the like. 

  1. Get a password manager

It's true; we just said to clean up and delete programs and apps you don't use. But, a password manager can keep your information safe and help create strong passwords to prevent your accounts from being hacked, should a breach occur on any of your regularly visited sites and online programs. 

According to kimkomando.com, "it takes a hacker about two seconds to crack an 11-character password that uses only numbers." Two seconds! But if you can create a 12-character password with a good mix of letters, numbers and symbols, it will take them 34,000 years to crack it. And, about two minutes for you to forget it. 

Thankfully, CNET recently released their list of the best password managers to use in 2022. 

And never keep your login credentials and other sensitive information like credit cards in a document on your computer. If your computer becomes compromised, lost or stolen, this would be the equivalent of giving a stranger the keys to your home.  

  1. Take your pick; there's always something to clean

If you're feeling energized and you've found your digital spring cleaning groove, we have even more ways to declutter your digital world - 

  • Review, delete and backup your photos.
  • Go through your web browser bookmarks.
  • Clean up your computer like you did your inbox (this will also help overall performance and speed).
  • Dispose of old computers, laptops, tablets, and phones - Consumer Reports has great ways to safely and securely destroy these items.
  • Check out this webinar from the National Cybersecurity Alliance for more tips.

Making it manageable

You don't have to do everything on this list ; some is better than none. Like cleaning your home one room at a time, tackle your digital space one area at a time. The digital world may not take up physical space, but alleviating yourself of its unnecessaries will help you feel ready to take on spring (and summer). 

And if you need help, take a look at the Virtual Gurus’ TalentPlace - our expert team of virtual assistants can help you organize your digital space and eliminate what you no longer need or use.

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Nikki Macaraeg
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