Are you planning on doing spring cleaning soon? Spring cleaning digital files for your small business, that is. It’s easy for us to neglect this area in our personal life, who cares if my password hasn’t been changed in years and my contact list is so outdated it has my previous career’s coworkers in it. But, in your business, it does matter. It helps with productivity, finding things easier, referencing things easier. The bottom line is that it saves you money and time.
Below are spring cleaning digital files tasks to help you and your business: I broke the tasks into 4 segments.
Four Sections to Review When Spring Cleaning Digital Files
- Clear Old Contacts. Go through your contacts digital book and add and remove contacts that are pertinent for right now. Remove people you haven’t heard from in years or don’t correspond with.
- Clear Old Email Folders. If you save emails or files in folders, go through the folders and delete any folders you haven’t used to streamline your folders. If there are like types, create a main folder and have the individual folders as subfolders under the main folders. For example, if you have individual social media folders because you receive emails from the social media site on your stats/insights, Create a main folder called, “Social Media Sites” and then move all the other folders under the “Social Media Sites” folder.
- Create Rules to automatically sort your email. This will automatically
- Unsubscribe to any newsletters you don’t want. This one should be done more often but sometimes we forget.
- Delete recurring appointments that do not apply anymore. As you may know but worth repeating, when deleting, you need to make sure you delete the series and not just the current appointment.
- Create new recurring appointments that you haven’t added yet. This could be tasks that are easy to remember but take some time to do, like check email, write a weekly newsletter, write a weekly blog post, etc…
Many small business companies store files in the cloud for convenience purposes. Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, and Microsoft OneDrive would love for you to store EVERYTHING in the cloud but is it really necessary? Keeping only the files that are needed on the go works great for most small business owners. With this in mind, go through the following tasks for cloud-based storage.
- Change passwords on your hosted website.
- Modify passwords on your most recent cloud-base storage files.
- Change passwords on social media accounts.
- Review your cloud-based files and delete unused files.
There are many more steps when it comes to Cloud-based spring cleaning which I plan on sharing more in depth in a future post. The list above will have you busy for a while. =)
And now the computer/server files. As small business owners, we have some files we reference all the time and other files we used once and never looked at again. Here are the task todos for your computer files.
- Delete desktop icons you don’t use. It can be distracting, like a desk filled with papers, clear the area on your desktop and keep only the files you often use on it.
- Go through all folders and file structures on your computer and any files on your shared in-house servers. Check the system and see if where people (or you) are saving the files still are appropriate to help you retrieve the files.
- Clear browser data: these spring cleaning tasks can be done more than once a year. Caution: this may delete your saved cookies from the bank and other places.
- Review photos and delete duplicates: If you have lots of photos, deleting duplicate photo files is an easy way to make space fast.
- Check to make sure you are getting all your antivirus and malware software. This tasks should be set up automatically when it is installed. But, just in case it is not, it is good to check.
- After deleting the files, the files need to be deleted from the recycling bin. But if you are deleting files on a server, they may or may not be permanently deleted. It depends on the manufacturer. Check your manufacturer to see if you need to take an extra step.
I know this is a lot of tasks to do when cleaning digital files, but to keep your small business healthy, it needs to be done. Here are some times throughout the day to knock out this list. Remember: you don’t have to do this list all in one sitting to be effective in your spring cleaning tasks. Break it down into smaller chunks – an hour max. Schedule one per day and work your way through the tasks.
Time of day to work on spring cleaning tasks:
- Before you start your day in the morning
- At the end of the day
- While watching TV at night
Here are free printables you can save. Enjoy and please share this post to remind other small business owners that they too should be cleaning digital files.
I also created a digital files calendar to help track and manage all these tasks.
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Well, there you have it. Spring cleaning digital files made easy. I hope you enjoyed this quite lengthy post. Remember to pace yourself, and you will be able to get through all the tasks.
Now it’s your turn; what do you do regularly to spring clean your digital files? Please leave a comment below.
Lisa Swanson says
I am definitely one that does not save everything! Like you mentioned, i find it very distracting to have a cluttered desktop & I’m always cleaning out my email. A few things I have not done are getting rid of duplicate photos and cleaning up my contact list. Time to get to work!
joan potter says
Sabrina, I’m not sure why you posted this for the whole viewing public. You could have just pulled me aside and said, “Joan, you are an E-mail hoarder and you need to change your ways.” After all, I’m sure I’m the WORST out there about this! You’re starting to sway me, however!
Katarina Andersson says
These are things one should do, but I almost never get round to doing them. So this article was a good push…
This is fabulous advice. I need to spring clean my house and my electronics. Cleaning up my email would save me countless hours. I love the info graphic and the worksheet. Can’t wait to use them
Very useful information. I do some of these tasks, but not all of them. I appreciate the printout cheat sheet too.
Jackie Harder says
I. Freaking. Love. This. Will be saving and dealing with these issues moving forward. And I’m gonna share, too.
Joyce Hansen says
I’ve been good about cleaning out my inbox, but new passwords I definitely need to add to the list. I love that you put everything in a graphic format. So, easy to understand and see what I still need to do. Thanks for all your time and effort in putting this together.
Joan M Harrington says
Wow what an awesome post full of excellent tips to “spring clean” your digital files! Thanks Sabrina for sharing as I need to do a few of them this week!
Jane Gramlich says
My downfall is definitely my main gmail account. I’ve been struggling to tame it for months. I’vegotten some good tips here. Now the key is to schedule some blocks of time on my calendar to get it done!
Oh, I ssoooo need to do this! Thanks for the printable, that’s speaking my language!
Janet Barclay says
Fabulous checklist! I’ll be sharing this for sure.
I have already started to delete email newsletters that I no longer am interested in. It has helped me realize that it is ok when people unsubscribe to mine. I plan to work on my calendar next so thanks for the tips.
Carol Rundle says
Wow, Sabrina, this is such valuable information, thank you! As a very organized person myself, I sometimes forget about my computer. Good reminder!
Melanie Banayat says
OH Yes! This article came at such a great time. You have motivated me to schedule this on my work calendar. It’s time. Thank you! Thank you!
Rachel Lavern says
Hi Sabrina, Thanks for this. Good job! I have all of this covered (started mid-March)…except things related to The Cloud which I refuse to use.
Kristen Wilson says
I think I am pretty good on all this… I usually achieve my emails/outlook every month and even back them up every 2 weeks, this is a recurring event. I usually unsubscribe when I get the emails for a little bit and haven’t done a thing… and folders, they go to a terminated client folder.. and everything is backed up on the cloud. done deal
It’s so easy to overlook digital spring cleaning but just as important as cleaning your house. Digital clutter can lead to massive confusion and time wasting as you’re searching for things. Your tips for digital spring cleaning are great, thanks for sharing.
Beverley Golden says
This is great Sabrina, and I’m happy to say that I am constantly unsubscribing from newsletters. I find I get way too many emails daily and in an effort to streamline, that is my first action almost daily. I also have clean my mac on my macbook, so also regularly clear out old files and clean things it detects that I now longer need. Desktop clearing frequently also. The main area that takes up space, is downloads and this post reminded me to use the program I bought that literally does just that. Eliminates duplicate files and downloads. Time to go through old files and folders now and I will free up more space. Appreciate your tips and ease of following too!
Roslyn Tanner Evans says
I so needed to read this. My organizational skills are absolutely in need of polish. I am always putting paper & digital into folders but then cant remember what I called it.
I like the categories you outlined & think I will tackle it.
Thank you so much for helping me see my way clear.
Oh yes, I do need to do some of the spring cleaning you suggested. Doing gives me instant gratification too, just like cleaning the house. Thanks for the great list and ideas to organize.
Susan Mary Malone says
This is great, Sabrina! You’ve motivated me before to start spring cleaning my files, but this truly helps to break it down. I love the calendar! Setting that up today!
Meghan Monaghan says
I need your organized way of thinking! LOVE this list, very helpful. Terrific pointer about setting up rules in Gmail. I’m the person who has 6,000 emails in my Inbox, but I have improved at using my calendar and removing myself from too many email newsletters. Next on my list is organizing my computer files in addition to my office! 😉 Love the chart.