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One of the downsides of going digital is that clutter isn’t so obvious. When you’re buried under papers, boxes, and stacks of scattered miscellany, it’s all physical proof that you need to clean up a bit. Digitally speaking, however, the only real reminder of clutter is when hard drive space runs out.
Clutter is the death of organization. Consider how much time you spend searching through your computer, your smartphone, your music libraries, and everything else. How much time does that add up to in the long run? What if you could become more efficient while expending less effort?
Organizing Your… Computer
Perhaps the most important step in digital organization is taking the reins on your computer. If you’re the kind of person who downloads everything straight to the desktop, allowing it all to accumulate and eventually fill up the entire screen, then perhaps it’s time to take a breath, regroup, and figure out a better approach.
First things first, you have to believe that there are other ways of storing your files than piling everything on the desktop. In fact, there are actually several dangers to doing that — including the lack of file backups and file security — so better to kill that habit sooner rather than later.
Check out our guide to organized file management for nine awesome tips that will keep your computer cleaner than ever before. It covers everything from proper folder usage to file synchronization on the cloud to quick deletion of duplicate files .
In addition, there are a few third-party programs that you can use to add organizational functionality that Windows lacks. A big favorite of ours is Fences (read our early Fences review ), which allows you to group desktop icons together. If the $10 cost is an obstacle, there are free but lesser alternatives like Nimi Places.
Another useful program is RocketDock, one of the best docks for Windows that lets you free up desktop space by putting icons on a dock. When combined with the Stacks docklet , RocketDock proves to be a formidable tool for organization.
Organizing Your… Contacts
How many contacts do you have on your mobile device? If your social circle is small , you’ll probably be fine with whatever default contact manager came with your smartphone. If you’re a social butterfly, however, then all of those contacts may be too cumbersome for a simple app to manage.
At that point, your best bet is to find an advanced contact manager like DW Contacts & Phone & Dialer. Don’t let the strange name fool you. This free app is packed with features like contact filtering, configurable contact lists, layered groups, a thousand speed dial numbers, and more.
While we’re at it, how many contacts do you have that aren’t on your phone? For example, business cards are still an important method of networking. With a tool like ScanBizCards for Android, you can snap a photo of each business card and the app will safely store it for you. The app is available on iOS too.
Organizing Your… Media
Media management can be a big stumbling block. If you aren’t already using a powerful media player , that should be your first step. Choosing the right media player can be the difference between enjoyment and frustration. Supplement it with a feature-complete music player and an Android music player .
That should cover most of your playback needs. The next thing you’ll want is one or more of these media management tools which automate many of the manual aspects of management, such as tag removal, bulk renaming, downloading album art, and more.
What about photos? If you use Dropbox as your main form of cloud storage then you may want to try using Carousel, a photo management app that integrates seamlessly with Dropbox. Otherwise, Picasa has always been a great choice when used in conjunction with Google Drive.
Another app worth mentioning is Shoebox. For those who have a lot of photos from the pre-digital age, Shoebox will ease the transition. All you have to do is take a snapshot of a paper photo and Shoebox will convert it into a digital one. It has edge detection and perspective correction features that make this more than just an app that lets you “take pictures of pictures,” which would admittedly be somewhat pointless.
Organizing Your… Passwords
Using a weak password is one of the most common security mistakes you could make. No matter how many times we hear about creating an unbreakable password , I know we’re all tempted to shrug and keep using the same passwords that we’ve been using for years.
It’d be nice if we could move past passwords but that won’t be happening for a long time, so I implore you: start being serious about your password security.
Here’s the problem, though. Good password design involves passwords that are long and cryptic. Good password habits involve using a unique password per website or service. At some point, it becomes a hassle — even impossible — to remember all of them. That’s why you should really learn to use a password manager ASAP.
We recommend LastPass. The free version is more than enough for most users, though power users will probably want to subscribe to LastPass Premium for $1 per month. There’s an Android version that’s only available as part of LastPass Premium, but there’s also a 14-day free trial.
It’s amazing to think how digital our lives have become. In addition to the above, there are so many other areas that could benefit from a digital broom: schedules , appointments, money , and emails just to name a few. Hopefully we’ve tackled enough to get you started on the right foot.
How do you stay digitally organized? What are your tips and tricks? Let us know in the comments below!