Has the following ever happened to you?
You open your Mac laptop to get some work done. On the screen, your desktop is totally cluttered. Files are stacked on top of each other, and multiple folders are old, mislabeled, or just plain empty.
You can’t find the file you need to work from, so you go to your email to download it again.
Things aren’t much better there.
The email you need is buried beneath promotions, updates from your bank, and messages from your mom. Did you accidentally delete it? Is it in another inbox?
You decide to email the person who sent you the file in the first place. Maybe they can resend it.
But when you go to your contacts, you have three different emails listed for the same person. Which one was it again?
By now, you’ve probably wasted 10 or 15 minutes of your precious time. The worst part is that all of this could have been avoided if you’d simply taken some basic organizational steps from the very beginning.
The Importance of Keeping Your Mac Organized
No matter what line of work you’re in — and even if you don’t currently work at a conventional job but are a stay-at-home-parent or full-time student — organization of your Mac is key to your success.
That’s because, for most people, their Mac is their main hub of information, connection, file storage, and communication. When it’s organized and clean, you can operate effectively and efficiently. When it’s disordered, however, you will be perpetually bogged down by distractions, misplaced files, forgotten tasks, and confusing data.
If you currently have a disordered Mac, do not despair. Here are some organizational tips to get you back on track and working more efficiently.
Tip #1 – Keep your desktop space as open as possible.
Here’s a good organizational rule to follow: as soon as something hits your desktop, whether it’s a PDF, photo, document, video, or Excel chart, put it where it needs to go right away. Either file it in the correct folder or keep it in a special area of your desktop that is designated for “in use” files.
Tip #2 – Create an organizational system for your desktop.
Speaking of storing files, make sure you have a functional folder system in place.
Doing this is easy. Simply take a look at your desktop and direct your attention to the upper left corner of the screen. This is where you’ll be starting.
Click on the first file you see. Do you need it? If not, delete it. If yes, what type of a folder could you put it in? If it’s a tax receipt, create a folder called “Tax Receipts,” and put it there. If it’s a family photo, put it in a folder called “Family Photos,” and put it there.
Do this until all of your random files have been filed away. From now on, follow Tip #1 and store your files according to your system immediately.
Tip #3 – Set aside five to 10 minutes a week for manual decluttering.
Every week, use just 10 minutes of your time to conduct a manual sweep of your desktop and main folders. Get rid of anything you don’t use or need anymore — and don’t forget to empty your trash! Take a moment to clear out your inbox as well.
Tip #4 – Invest in a free Mac cleaner to free up storage space.
Sometimes, you’ll forget to declutter manually. In this case, have a backup system in place. A free Mac cleaner automatically gets rid of extraneous files on a regular schedule that you set up. Good cleaners can also help you target useless “invisible” files that may be taking up an extraordinary amount of space.
Tip #5 – Streamline the apps you use most.
Make sure your most-used apps are actually useful. For instance, in the example we gave in the introduction, there were three email addresses listed for one person. Don’t allow this to be a normal occurrence for you. In this case, you would make it a point to figure out which email was current for that contact person and delete the others.
Other apps should be continually streamlined in the same way. If you are a photographer and use Photos a lot, make sure you have a handy organization system going. If you like to listen to calming music while you work, keep your playlists organized and easy to play on Spotify or Pandora. If you are in charge of updating social media for your company, arrange it so that you are always logged in to your social media accounts and never have to go hunting for passwords. Finally, stay on top of all software updates so that your apps are always working smoothly.
While it may seem like these small tips won’t make a difference in how you work and use your Mac, you’d be mistaken. By taking just a few simple steps toward better Mac organization now, you’ll help yourself prevent work burnout and recurring frustrations. You’ll also free up more time to do the things you really enjoy!