Decluttering Your Desktop: 4 Helpful Tips

With the second half of the year officially underway, now is a perfect time to start thinking about how you can be more productive and work more efficiently. Of course, you want to focus on making your IT products and services as efficient as possible, but there is one thing in front of you that may need your immediate attention: your desktop.

For most people, the desktop is our go-to place to store email attachments, photos, downloads and other items. However, once we’ve opened or dealt with a certain file, it tends to just sit there gathering virtual dust. Then, lo and behold, your desktop has become an untamed forest of icons and thumbnails!

To prevent this from happening to you, take the following four steps that will help you avoid future headaches and organize your desktop for optimal productivity.

Create a Folder System

Did you know that a cluttered desktop can actually slow down your computer? Take a moment to think about how many files you have on your desktop right now. More than ten? Fifty? One hundred? If you can’t even remember what your current wallpaper looks like, it might be time to create a folder system to deal with the clutter.

Start simple by divvying up all your files into a couple of folders—these can vary depending on your specific role. As a business owner, you might need to segment out your own business-related files from your client-related information. If you’re a technical leader, you might need separate folders for the specific products or services you oversee. If you’re unsure of where to start, simply sort through your files chronologically, get rid of anything you don’t need and create a folder for items that you consistently refer to. If you have any items that you’re hesitant to delete, compile them into a folder marked “miscellaneous.”

Don't Neglect Sub-Folders

Another step you can take when organizing your computer’s files is to create subdivisions within your new folder system. Although this step might receive the occasional eye-roll, if every folder is labeled “My Documents” or “Client Information,” you will never be able to find what you’re looking for! Instead, you can use subdivision to organize your files based on the type of work they are, the year or quarter they are relevant to, or the client they are referring to. Take control of where your files go and cut down on time wasted searching for the right document.

Use Naming Conventions

Between the documents, screenshots, and other files you work on each week, there are a lot of things that can get lost in the shuffle. So, one of the best ways to prevent future mishaps is to create a simple file-naming system. Don’t worry, your files don’t have to be in a code as extensive as the Dewey Decimal System. Just use short, clear names for your files and be consistent with the format you use.

Before you save something new, remember to ask yourself “how will I search for this in the future?” Take for instance, the example of searching for a service-related document you need to send to a client. Did you call it “XYZ Service Information” or “Getting Started with XYZ Service?”

One naming approach you can use is to start with the noun. For example, this could look like “Datasheet-XYZ Service” or “Contract-ABC Client.” This way, files are sorted by their type, so you’ll easily find exactly what you’re looking for.

Another approach is to lead with the specific product or service. This can be as easy as “RMM-Datasheet” or “BDR-Service Details.” With this approach, you’ll be able to filter documents by the product they relate to and find the one you need. By implementing a naming convention that works for you and sticking to it, you’ll reduce time spent searching and stressing.

Leverage Third-Party Tools

It may seem a little ironic to download yet another thing to help with computer organization, but there are some useful tools out there. We all know how easy it is to dump shortcuts, files and other items onto your desktop for convenience's sake, but it isn’t very practical. If you need help decluttering your desktop and you’re a windows user, take a look at Fences, a popular desktop organization software. Fences lets you drop your shortcuts and icons into buckets that can be resized and moved as required. It’s similar to how the sub-folder system works on your Android or iOS phone. You have to pay for the application itself, but there is a free 30-day trial you can try to see if it's worth it.

Another thing I’m sure we all can agree on is that one of the biggest contributors to desktop clutter is screenshots. When you capture a screenshot on a PC (Alt + Print Screen) or a Mac (Command + Shift + 3), the image is automatically saved to your desktop. To help with this, you can use a screen capture tool such as the Awesome Screenshot extension for Google Chrome. Not only does this tool provide you with more advanced screen capture capabilities—annotations, selective capture, delayed capture, etc.—but it also aims to simplify the way you store your screenshots. And, if screenshotting is something you find yourself doing a lot, it can help you avoid making a mess of your desktop.

Invest in a Scalable Data Storage Solution

Before the cloud, data storage was expensive, limited to physical disks, labor-intensive to set up and prone to failure. However, the advent of the cloud changed all of these issues. For end-users, it enabled them to clear out all their excess photos and documents and store them elsewhere. For managed services providers, it provided a scalable solution to enter the backup and disaster recovery (BDR) business. But with client needs constantly shifting, and desktops being decluttered on a semi-regular basis, you need to ensure you’re providing end-users with the most reliable solution out there.

When it comes to your clients’ data storage needs, flexibility is key. This is why Continuum BDR, our robust BDR platform, is built to empower MSPs to build a bigger, more profitable BDR business. With a variety of packages and deployment options—including a new Archive add-on which offers a low-cost, cloud backup and restore option for long-term data storage—Continuum BDR enables you to scale your storage up and down, month to month, to meet your clients’ data storage demands. No more worrying about handling your clients’ excess data or recovering an essential document they accidentally deleted. With a scalable solution like Continuum BDR, you’ll be able to best cater to the way your clients store their data.

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