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Many of us are facing a new clutter trap.
In the not-so-distant past, working in the office typically provided us access to a printer, making it quick and easy to print notes, meeting agendas, contracts, and more. Many of these documents landed permanently on our desks.
After being thrust into work-from-home, another clutter trap emerged. The cluttered computer desktop replaced our cluttered physical desktop.
Most of us don't have a printer at home, and many companies are not inclined to provide a printer (and all the necessary supplies) for every employee. As a result, we had to figure out alternative ways to manage our documents, usually parking them on our computer desktops for easy access.
Unfortunately, these files aren't leaving our computer desktops, just like the paper didn't leave our physical desktops. And the new hybrid work environment has amplified the effect of both! We've resumed using the printer when we're in the office, and we're still saving those documents to our computer desktop for use while we're at home.
But the reality is this, as much as a cluttered desk causes distraction, so does a cluttered computer desktop.
Staring at a sea of icons all day numbs the mind to the screen's contents and causes peripheral distraction. While many of us are confident we know where things are, the unintended consequences are still very real.
In an article for Psychology Today, author Nir Eyal states, "A cluttered computer doesn't just look ugly, it's also expensive. For one, there are cognitive costs. A study by researchers at Princeton University found people performed poorly on cognitive tasks when objects in their field of vision were in disarray as opposed to neatly arranged. The same effect applies to digital environments according to a study published in the academic journal, Behaviour & Information Technology. Unsurprisingly, our brains have a tougher time finding things when they are positioned in a disorganized manner."
The good news? The same guidelines that help us manage paper also apply to managing files on the computer desktop. It all comes down to decisions.
The File-Act-Toss System™ from Productive Environment Institute reduces the decision-making process to its most basic level. There are only three decisions to make about any piece of information. File it. Act on it. Or, toss it.
File: If you've finished working with a file but must keep it for future reference, ensure it has a meaningful filename so you can search for it later and move it to your drive or a designated shared server. The goal is to get it off your desktop.
Act: If a file is in use with an active project, keep it with other files relating to the same project. Perhaps create a digital folder for the project, and keep all related files in there. When the entire project is complete, relocate the project folder to your drive or a designated shared server. Again, the goal is to get the folder off your desktop.
Toss: Delete a file when you have finished working with it, and it serves no future purpose.
To maintain control of your physical desk and your computer desktop, schedule time on your calendar at an interval that works for you (e.g., daily, weekly, bi-weekly), and regularly use The File-Act-Toss System™.
If you’d like help working through the File Act Toss System™, or setting up other productivity systems to make your workday more efficient, complete a Productive Environment scorecard now at www.newpathpro.com/scorecard.