“The things you own end up owning you.” – Tyler Durden, Fight Club

Lately I have been on this minimalist, survivalist kick. Tackling one room at a time, I have sufficiently managed to wipe out all excess, unused clutter from my house. This amounted to two trips to Goodwill, trunk and backseat full each time, as well as many trips to the complex dumpster.

How does one end up acquiring so much clutter?

It’s easy to use items now and again, only to stash them away in an unseen place when finished. Sometimes you forget you owned it to begin with and lose the desire for the item over time, other times you go out and replace it with a new one.

However, once I forced myself to purge these undesired items, I found my home to feel more relaxed. When it is time to straighten up the house, I find a place for everything easily. Everything is much more organized, making cleaning time so much faster.

Additionally when I need to use a certain item, I can find it quickly as opposed to digging through a stash of junk. A recent survey reported that the average person spent 55 minutes a day just looking for items.

Now to the crucial ingredient…

This same principle of purging should be applied to computer files and programs. This is the last thing on my list because I have dreaded it, but I know the result will be worthwhile. If I clean, organize, delete, or backup all of the random folders on my computer, it will function much quicker. All of your files can be in a systematic order so that any file you think of can be pulled up in 5 seconds or less. As well, with unnecessary or duplicate files deleted or backed up on a separate disk (to be loaded only when needed), the computer will have more free space for faster downloading and web browsing or gaming.

For anyone who is willing, but unsure of how to begin such a project, I have researched and found a few useful tips from wikiHow:

How to Organize Your Computer

If you have many pictures, documents and other files, you should know that they can become very unorganized. If you follow the steps below you can create a well organized, powerful computer system. These instructions are for Windows users, but instructions on other operating systems should be similar.

  1. Make note of the most unorganized folders. Find the trouble spots so you know where to start. The most commonly abused areas in Windows are the Desktop and the main “My Documents” folder. Other common trouble spots are folders created by the computer users in the C:\ directory.
  2. Select and delete the files you do not need. The biggest problem with computer organization is the computer’s enormous capacity for files that you don’t need anymore. Reduce the clutter by deleting files that you are sure you do not need. See the tips for an easy way to remove multiple files.
  3. Pick a Spot to store everything There should be a main folder to keep everything organized. Use My Documents, because all the Microsoft programs want to save files there by default. A big appeal of the one folder for everything is that it makes backups even easier if every file you want is in one place. Don’t forget to backup these files that you have deemed important.
  4. Create a few new categories. Make about four rough categories and make folders with those names in your chosen folder. Some good examples are: Work, Personal, Friends, Family. You can organize by date, by people involved, by motivation, by weather, by file type, by Geographic location, or anything really, just make sure it makes sense to you and anyone using the computer.
  5. Create subcategories. Subcategories should be clear. Try to keep the folders on the “flat” side. That means don’t make so many sub-sub-sub-sub categories, or you won’t be able to find anything. Avoid making folders that are too specific. Clever naming is the key.
  6. Start Sorting Sort the files you want to keep into your new, cleverly named folders. Sometimes it’s easier to combine the sorting and subcategories step, but make sure you can still see the big picture.
  7. Organize your shortcuts Shortcuts are in three places in most Windows computers. They can be found on the desktop, in the start menu, and in the quick launch bar to the right of the start menu (if you have it enabled). You don’t need them in all three do you? Keep your most common shortcuts in the quick launch bar (like internet, my documents, word, and excel). Keep the icons you want to drop things onto on the desktop Keep every program shortcut in the start menu. To move the shortcuts, just drag and drop your icons where you want them. See tips for more details.
  8. The most important step When you make new files, make sure you put them in your new spiffy folders, and make sure they are worthy to keep.

Just follow these steps and you should be well on your way to a faster functioning computer (yes, even if it is a Dell).

And Remember: If all the work sorting and deleting files wear you down, just think to yourself…