Spring has Sprung – Part 2: 6 Tips to help with your digital spring clean.

As you go through spring here are some tips to help with the digital clean up that we should all do.

Dust bunny

As spring rolls on here are some tips to continue to clean up our digital lives

Passwords. It’s a good idea at this time of year to look at all your accounts and change the passwords. As suggest by many digital security sites and professionals the mix of upper and lower case with numbers is one of best ways to create a secure password. So take a look at your passwords and update them. And if remembering all the passwords for your different accounts is too much then there are apps such as Lastpass or Passwordbox to help.

Get rid of files you don’t want any more. Just like clearing out our work space, desktops, and emails, you should also clear out files that you no longer need. Many of us have files on our computers that we no longer use, and that takes up valuable space and are at time home to viruses. As as you delete all these files remember to empty the recycle bin.

Security software. Your security software should be up to date and running the most recent version. It’s a good time to check your security software and make sure that it’s running at its optimum best. Some of the better security options are the ones that are paid for as they are automatically updated, the ones that are available for free generally require you to do manual updates and also come with additional software that you often times don’t need.

Social media. Social media is very popular and one of the main ways we keep up with what’s happening around us. If you’re a fan of Facebook you’ll notice that every so often their privacy policy gets updated and this will in turn change your privacy settings. Check in on your digital footprint with your social media and check that your privacy settings are intact to where you want them to be.

Subscriptions. Over time we have all subscribed to numerous newsletters on a variety of topics that at one point in time was useful to us. But as we move on in life many of these newsletter emails just add to the clutter that we all experience. Go through your subscriptions and unsubscribe to all the unwanted newsletters, email alerts, and updates you no longer need.

Smartphones and tablets. Not only do we need to clean up our computers and laptops but also we need to do the same with our smartphones and tablets. There are normally countless apps that have been downloaded that are not needed and it’s a good time to also clean up the apps on our phones and tablets to make them work much better for us.

As you go through your spring cleaning remember to always empty your bins, recycle, email and the physical ones.

Happy cleaning.

Spring has Sprung – Part 1: Spring clean your work space.

Spring is finally here and with it coinciding with the end of the first business quarter, it’s a good time to declutter our work space and fine tune our work tools.

spring-cleaning-sites

Spring has finally sprung, and with the start of the new season it’s time for us to do a bit of spring cleaning. As is traditional spring is the time where we clear our closets of things we don’t wear, and clean our homes from top to bottom and discard all those unwanted items. Spring cleaning is always associated with fresh beginnings, and fresh starts, and getting things right for the rest of the year. Since we make this association with our lives and spring it only makes sense that we also spring clean that area of our life that is responsible for us having and maintaining our standard of living, our office and work areas. There are three main areas that we should pay attention to when it comes to our work space.

The first area is our work desk. Many of us have desks and draws that are so filled with clutter that we don’t even go into them anymore because naturally nothing of use can be found in them. Many times we put things in our desk draws and inevitably forget about them, and many of those items that are in our draws can technically be thrown away. Now is a good time before the year gets too busy to go through those draws and do a spring clean of all the junk that has accumulated over time. If you use the draws for file storage, set up a system where only things that are only needed for work are put in those files and draws, all other stuff for personal use can go else where. A neat and organised draw will make it better to find what you need. And when looking for something you will spend less time searching and more time doing some productive work.

On the desk that pen holder full of pens that are either broken or empty needs to be decluttered. I know some things have sentimental meaning, I still have a pen set that I was given when I graduated from university years ago, but sitting on my desk is not the place for it. Something of meaning should have a place to be stored. On your work desk should only be the things that are necessary for your work. Yes pictures are fine but if you have a desk full of pictures and nowhere to work then you probably have too many pictures. Keeping your work desk as clear as possible helps to focus the mind and keep it clear. When our desks are cluttered, the clutter acts as a distraction and hence lowers our productivity rate. So clear those desks of unnecessary distractions and get back to work.

With our desk and draws uncluttered and clear the second area of cleaning is our computers. Many of us make our living solely by PC, we create reports, we write, we Skype, we use them daily and for long periods. If something happened to our computers/laptops we would be lost and in many cases our businesses would grind to a halt. In this day of working remotely and doing almost everything by computer it makes sense that we keep our number one working tool finely tuned. I regularly go through my program file and see what programs are there, many times when we download stuff we get additional programs added to our file. And yes even though you click the do not download this it will sometimes still be added to your computer. I have found that going through the program files and deleting unwanted files helps declutter the computer and releases memory that can be used on something useful. In conjunction with deleting unwanted programs you can also run the defragment program on your computer to free up space also.

If you have an antivirus software or any type of protection for your computer, now would be a good time to run a full scan of your computer and give it a good clean. Running a scan, depending on which virus protection or software you have, will help prevent unwanted programs, viruses, trojans, etc. There are many times we stop our programs from running these scans because we are too busy, but they are a good thing and need to be done not only at spring cleaning time, but at least at the end of each quarter, or more frequent if you can. You would be amazed at how much faster your computer will run after a full scan and clean up.

The third area we should spring clean is our emails. Have you ever noticed that you’ll get an email and you don’t have the time to read it so you create a folder and put that email in there for later. But later never came and the email is still in that folder along with numerous others. I’ve done that. Some times emails look interesting and you think, “I’ll take a look at that later,” and then you put it into your saved folder, or whatever name you’ve called it. Two years later it’s still there. With the amount of emails that we receive daily sometimes things look so interesting that we are tempted to put them aside to read either at the end of the day, week, or over the weekend. As we all know life happens and those emails never get touched. So if you have one of those folders or files in your email account by all means go ahead and delete it with its contents. Chances are if you haven’t read anything in there that was of use to you before there won’t be anything of use to you now, so hit delete.

Also since you’re cleaning out your email folders it’s a good time to go through all your email folders and clean them out. If the emails are for old projects that you worked on and completed in the last 18 months then go ahead and archive them. If they’re older than 18 months then you can delete them. I know there are places and people who need to keep emails or files and such for five years and more, but for many independent contractors, executive assistants, virtual assistants, there is a limit to how much you can keep, and in many cases with the confidentiality agreements you sign the work that’s done does not belong to you it is ultimately your clients. So with that said there is no need to keep work for clients that you did over an extended period of time. So those files and emails can be deleted. Yes of course you will still keep their contact information and any contractual information you have but the back and forth emails in some cases does not need to be kept and can be discarded to declutter your email.

These are usually the three main areas that cause us the most grief when it comes to working, our computers, our emails, and our work desks. If you keep these clutter free after this spring cleaning then hopefully it should help you to be more productive for the rest of the year. Now all we have to do is get our filing systems in order.

Happy spring cleaning.

Althea