Some of our important records tend to be paper — around tax time, those W-2s and 1099s are usually sent in paper form via postal mail. But a lot of our files are digital, and they can end up a mess. Some studies suggest that we only use 20% of the data on our computers. The average smartphone has 65 apps on it, but we only use 16 apps regularly.
So let’s give our digital lives a quick cleanup. Here’s how:
Deal with it, file it, or delete it — Is your Inbox so full of email, you can’t tell what’s important and what’s garbage? Make a point of dealing with each email immediately OR filing it into a labeled folder (or use tags/filters to sort it) OR delete it if the email doesn’t need any action.
Color-code your folders — Don’t just file emails and docs into folders, color-code those folders. Create a system that makes sense for you, perhaps starting by using red for crucial, must deal with ASAP items. You can color-code folders on your computer desktop, on a backup drive, in Google Drive, and other places.
Tag your virtual checkbook — If you use Mint.com, Check.me, or software like Quicken, you can tag transactions in your virtual checkbook. Add keywords now, such as “charity” or “medical,” to help you later when you’re filing taxes. This will help you easily find what you want to deduct next year.
Uninstall programs and apps you don’t use — Sure, you’ll clear up space. But you’ll also keep your device a little safer from malware. Viruses can take advantage of vulnerabilities in older programs hanging around on your computer.
Clear your browser’s cache — Chrome, Firefox, Safari, IE, doesn’t matter which you use, having a giant file history in the browser slows down your device. Keep it clean and tidy by clearing the cache every month or so.