At this very moment, does your desktop or laptop runneth over or runneth empty? We all have those days where overwhelm, overcommittment, don’t feel well, and can’t find that darn document seem to converge.

So today, on #NationalNewFriendsDay and #NationalCleanYourVirtualDesktopDay, let me help you out, friend, with some productivity tips that will help you find those documents and feel less overwhelmed. (You’ll still have to deal with the priorities and overcommittment, but maybe these tips will help you feel better about it all.)

1. Email runneth over is what I hear the most complaints about.

  • If it’s been sitting in your inbox unopened for over 90 days, it’s not priority, you probably aren’t going to read it, and it’s probably old news and irrelevant now. Delete them.
  • Create folders for the important emails you need to save. I have folders for each client and subfolders for projects. If it’s important, answer, do the thing, then delete or file it. Do not leave it to get lost in your inbox.
  • Inbox zero. Every Friday I make sure to read, respond, delete, and/or file every email in my inbox. That starts the next work week with zero items in my inbox. Some do this daily, some monthly. Pick what is manageable for you and the number of emails you receive.

2. Desktop organization. If you keep every document, app, etc on your desktop you will never find anything and it will contribute to your sense of overwhelm every time you fire up your computer.

  • Leave the app shortcuts in the start menu or put the few most used as minis on the bottom tab. You do not need a shortcut to every app on your homescreen.
  • Create folders. I organize my life around five areas: Faith, Family/Friends/Home, Professional, Health & Fitness, and things that make me happy (basically reading, needlework, plants, and nail art). I have a folder on my desktop for each of these five items, and subfolders within. When I fire up my laptop, I go to the folder I need and get to work.
  • Use that desktop space for current projects. If I’m in the middle of research or creating graphics or a presentation, I may leave the items in use on my desktop temporarily, but they all get filed or deleted as soon as I am done with them. Each folder can be backed up to the cloud or a jump drive.

3. Make your desktop inspiring. Set a theme that makes you happy to get to work.

  • Favorite photos can carousel. I have about 50 photos from my fifty years that make me smile, and this way I see them often.
  • Inspirational quote. You can use someone else’s (check out Pinterest) or create your own. My homepage graphic is one I found years ago the says “Choose Joy.” I love that reminder. (I wish I knew who to attribute the artwork to… it is not mine.)
  • What are you working for. If you are working on a WIP, use a inspiration board as your image. If you are working to buy a new house, vacation, car, or to be debt free, choose an image or theme that constantly reminds you of that goal. That also works for login passwords. For years after we were married, my login at work was “buy a house,” or some variation. It helped to be reminded of that on days I was less than happy to start working.

4. Don’t forget the maintenance!

  • When’s the last time you defragged your hard drive?
  • Is your security up to date? Is your firewall and all the other protections working properly? Have you run a scan lately?
  • Have you physically dusted and cleaned your computer? Vacuum the keyboard and get the crumbs out. Get a can of air and take the casing off to get the dust out of the inner works. (Check YouTube if you’ve never done that before.) Use a screen cloth to clean the spots and smudges off.
  • If you share your computer, make sure to use a disinfectant wipe on all the parts people touch, breathe, cough, or sneeze on.
  • Do you take your laptop on the road? Don’t forget to clean out your go bag. (So that’s where that receipt is! 🙄)

Keeping my virtual desktop clean helps me realize that my cup is at least half-full! It also makes it easier and more efficient to get things done in less time, leaving me more time for what makes me happy, like spending time with family and friends.

What tips and tricks do you have to keep your virtual desktop and workspace clean? Optimism is a powerful tool, friends! How can I encourage you today?