Even as a professional organizer, I still walk across the living room floor and step on Legos or a plastic dinosaur. I look forward to the day - in about 10 years maybe - when I’ll be able to cross the floor without the landmines.
Meanwhile, I’ve found 4 simple techniques that provide an oasis of adult sanity on my Mac. On a recent cross-country flight, I took control of my laptop. It feels as good as it sounds to have your computer cleaned up. Here you go:
Clear the Desktop
Take 10 minutes to clear your desktop. Close any open windows. Then, click the desktop to be sure you are in the Finder. Now, follow these steps:
1. Optimize your Preferences. From the Finder menu, choose Preferences. Clear the first three checkboxes in the General pane. You can access these items from the Go menu or the sidebar, so they don’t need to clutter your soon-to-be tranquil desktop.
2. Clear the Tags (unless you use them regularly). Unchecking the boxes of the colored tags will help eliminate digital clutter in your sidebar. (For more info on removing digital clutter, check out these quick tips.)
3. Clean up your Sidebar. Personally, I subscribe to the "less is more" philosophy. You can see that I’ve only got a few options checked. Close the Preferences.
4. Make a new folder on your desktop. (Choose “New Folder” from the File menu.) Name the folder “Inbox.'
5. Move each item on your desktop to an appropriate folder - perhaps your “Documents” folder - or a subfolder. Or, put it in the new “Inbox” folder. At the end of the 10 minutes, drag the new Inbox folder into the “Documents” folder.
Customize the Toolbar
Identify up to 3 files (or folders) that you often want to open. (e.g. school directory reference, a project plan, etc.) Add these items to your toolbar. But first, clear any unwanted items from the toolbar with these steps.
Open a Finder window. Press Command-N or choose”New Finder Window” from the File Menu.
Remove unnecessary items from the toolbar by Command-Dragging them off. (You are NOT deleting these items, just removing their buttons from the toolbar.) You can also select “View/Customize Toolbar."
To add frequently-visited places to the Toolbar, Command-drag them from their original place in the finder to the toolbar. To make sure you can actually read the name of the folder, in the “View/Customize Toolbar” menu item, select “Icon and Text” in the Show pull-down menu box in the lower left.
Put Active Projects in the Sidebar
It’s time to separate your ACTIVE projects from your Archived projects. put the folders for active projects in the Sidebar so you can find them instantly and save new files to them easily. (e.g. Your Holiday letter, Finances, a brochure you may be working on.) You may also want to put the PHOTOS app into your sidebar if you reference your pictures frequently. If you didn’t put these critical folders in the Toolbar, you can use the Sidebar instead. (This is good if you have more than just a few key folders to shortcut.)
Drag each important project folder to the Sidebar and drop it into the desired location. Notice that a horizontal line shows where the folder will go after you drop it. If you need, resize the width of the sidebar by dragging the vertical divider at its right.
When you save a file, use the Sidebar in the Save dialog to navigate to the correct folder quickly. To move an item to a specific folder on the Sidebar, drag it to the folder and drop it when the folder is highlighted.
Follow this clutter-busting process periodically, perhaps once a day (or once a week):
If a file is on your desktop, file it correctly or stick it in your Inbox folder for later review.
If an item in your Sidebar is no longer active, remove it.
If you have too many active projects, decide which ones aren’t front-burner active and move them off your Sidebar. You can still access them from within the Finder.
Do you have other tips for organizing your computer? Let me hear them!