How long has it been since you gave your computer or laptop a good clean?
The second Monday in February is Clean Out Your Computer day, and I’m sure you’d all agree that both a physical and a digital clean of your computer set-up is more important now than ever before.
Physical Computer Clean Up
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how to clean your device, but just in case you do need a reminder, here are a few quick actions you can do over the next few days to give your computer or laptop a spruce up. There is no need to purchase any special cleaning liquids for this job – most of them are actually harmful to your device.
Before you begin any cleaning, make sure you turn your computer or laptop off completely. It’s best to unplug everything from everything else. We don’t want to risk damaging your device or you!
First job is to tip your keyboard or laptop upside down and gently tap along it from one side to the other to shake out any dirt, dust, crumbs, etc. Keep tapping until nothing else falls out, making sure you don’t ignore the corners.
Once that is complete, you can move on to wiping away all that build-up on your keys. A simple cotton cloth dampened with some water will work perfectly for cleaning your monitor/screen. Swap the water for some rubbing alcohol to clean off your keyboard, track pad, and mouse.
A can of compressed air helps get into those tricky-to-reach spots like between your keys and the air intake slots in your case. You can often find these at your local supermarket or department store.
An anti-static cloth will remove that ever-present dust from all surfaces. If there is a bit of grime on your PC, monitor, or laptop casing, you can dilute some ammonia with water and use a clean cloth dampened with this to gently rub it off.
Let us know once you’ve completed your physical device clean – we’ll be your accountability buddies!
Digital Computer Clean Up
Now that the externals of our devices are all gleaming fresh again, it’s time to turn our gaze inwards, and have a look at our digital mess.
We all have some.
Old email addresses, out-of-date profiles, unorganised folders and documents, less-than-useful subscriptions. It can get out of hand very quickly, but because turning off our devices is so easy, we tend to compartmentalise the mess, ignoring it as effectively as we ignore the spare closet full of rarely-used junk.
Having this disorganisation and clutter in your physical life can increase anxiety and decrease productivity. It’s absolutely the same with your digital life. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to find a file in a mess of folders, or deleting a hundred unwanted emails. Your time is too valuable and you are too important to be having to deal with all that.
Unless you’re willing to pay someone to do it for you, you’ll need to schedule in some cleaning and organising time into your calendar. If you’ve got an afternoon spare, try and knock off as much as you can in one go. If, like most of us, you just simply don’t have that much spare time, I recommend looking at one or two tasks a week, setting yourself a timer for half an hour or so, and getting stuck into it.
Here is a handy checklist of tasks for you to copy-paste into your to-do list, and check them off as you complete them. Feel the calm and relief that comes with a well-organised digital space.
- Check every single icon on your computer/laptop desktop and phone home screen – if it’s not something you use daily or weekly, chances are you don’t need it there
- Arrange the icons in a way that makes sense to you – thanks to The Home Edit, a popular way to do this now is by colour, as program and app branding is so strong that you often recognise them by colour alone
- Un-pin anything from your taskbar and app/widget sections that you don’t regularly use, and pin anything that you have started to use more frequently
- Update the image(s) you use for your background, screensaver, and lock screen
- Organise your inbox by creating as many folders and sub-folders as makes sense to you
- Set labels for incoming mail to match your folders (see how much you can auto-archive to their selected folders, particularly anything that won’t need an immediate response)
- Update your signature
- Pre-set any out-of-office-replies you might need soon
- Unsubscribe from anything you are no longer interested in seeing
- Update your profile information, including your profile and cover images
- Unfollow any accounts that are no longer serving you
- Follow a couple of new ones (like us!) that seem interesting to you right now
- Respond to any connections that you have let slip by
- Hibernate, deactivate, or delete any accounts you no longer want active
- Check your privacy settings – often changes are made without you being aware
- Set up a folder system that makes sense to you/your company
- Write yourself/your company a document naming system
- For files you no longer need, either delete them, or move them onto an external harddrive or cloud system
- Be selective with images you have saved, particularly screenshots – if you no longer have a use for it, delete it
Programs and Apps
- Uninstall any old programs or apps you are no longer using – don’t keep any you haven’t used in 6-12 months ‘just in case’, you can always redownload it later if you find you actually do want it
- Make sure the ones you do use are up to date
The Web At Large
- Do a Google search of yourself/company to find what sort of digital footprint you have
- Deactivate any accounts you no longer use across shopping sites, games, socialising, clubs, etc
- Update passwords, particularly if you’ve fallen into the habit of using the same one across multiple accounts and programs
- Clear your cookies
- Make sure your browser is up to date
Doing a thorough digital clean up can take a bit of time, but it is well worth the effort. Not only will you decrease your anxiety, you’ll also increase your productivity as well as your security. Once you’ve got your digital presence neat and tidy, set yourself a few minutes a week to keep it that way. Unless, of course, you enjoyed this whole process so much that you want to do it all over again in a year’s time. If that’s you, please let us know, we have a friend or two who could make great use of your enthusiasm.