Saturday, January 2, 2016

New Year Clean-Up

We've all see this photo before. It happens to the best of us - despite our best efforts, stuff gets out of control. One of the best things you can do at the beginning of a new year is clean up and get organized. Whether you are dealing with a messy workspace or a messy computer - or a combination of both - this is a great time to clean up the mess and start the year with everything in its place.

Getting there will be a different process for all of us - but at a minimum, I suggest:


  • Take everything off your desktop and move it to another space nearby
  • Go through everything - one thing at a time - and either
    • Throw it away
    • File it in its appropriate place
    • Create a file (or binder, or other receptacle) for it
  • If you are not sure if you will need it again, create a ?????? folder, date the item, and hold it there for a while. If you don't need it in a week (month, year) - throw it away

  • Clean up your email account
    • Go through your inbox and delete anything you don't need to keep
    • Create files (folders) in your email account to save those things you do want to keep
    • Empty your spam folder
    • Empty your trash folder
  • Go through your file manager and take a look at the folders you have set up and what is in them
    • If the folder is redundant or unnecessary - delete it
    • Same holds for the files in those folders
  • Get yourself a thumb drive - label it something appropriate - such as, unsure, save for later, etc. and file everything you are not sure about onto that thumb drive (just in case).
  • Become familiar with tools such as:
    • Boomerang for Gmail - a Gmail tool that allows you to send an email back to yourself at a future date - getting it out of your inbox 
    • Todoist - wonderfully intuitive list tool with reminders, notifications, etc.
    • Trello - project management tool for organizing just about any project
  • Clean out your photos (you should do this on your smartphone as well). Save a few of the photos you want to have handy and delete or off-load those you no longer need. Get another thumb drive, set up a series of folders there, and move the rest of your photos to the drive, organizing them by date, name, occasion, etc. - whatever works for you. Get them off our computer, your phone, your tablet, and/or your laptop. 
  • Most of us go through our snail mail every day and handle each thing that shows up in our mailbox appropriately. I am also sure that most of us empty the kitchen trash at least every day or so. Yet we allow our email accounts to become overwhelmed with spam, trash and unnecessary stuff.  If you clean up this stuff every day or so, you will be surprised how easy it is to keep your technology organized. My trick for keeping my email inbox clean and organized is to never have more than twelve emails in my inbox at any time.
Get into the habit of taking a minute or two every time you sit down at your desk or open your computer (phone, tablet, laptop) to do a bit of housekeeping. You will be amazed at the results.

Once you have cleaned up your literal and digital workspace - you can start organizing your genealogy stuff.

More on that next time ....

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