Before we continue exploring the endless world of digital organization, I want to recap what we’ve looked at so far by reviewing the “Do One Thing” tasks that are at the end of every Tidy Tuesday blog post. These give you small action items that you can take immediately from each post.
I’m hopeful that these focused, bite-size ideas help to get you thinking about your own situation in a way that motivates progress. No matter how much digital mess you might have to deal with, you can always make progress by doing one small thing. Then another. And another.
Without further delay, here’s everything we’ve covered so far:
- #1: Do one thing. Prove to yourself that you can take at least one step.
The post that started us off, the introduction to Tidy Bytes as a website, a platform, and a general resource for all things concerning digital organization. It’s time to tame your data! If you’re reading this, you already know that your digital situation can be improved. Doing one thing—anything—to move in the right direction is the best way to start your journey.
- #2: Make a list of at least three devices or services that have your data on them.
From the post introducing the IFO method (Identify-Filter-Organize), this task focuses on chasing down your data so you can determine where to start. Sometimes it’s not as easy or obvious as you might think!
- #3: Answer two questions to create your own list identifying what and where your data is.
Once you’ve decided to move forward, you need to know what needs to be organized. This task helps you figure out what you have and where it’s stored (the “Identify” step of the IFO method), and then you can use that information to decide where to start.
- #4: Choose one small set of your data and filter it to delete whatever doesn’t qualify.
After you identify your data, the “Filter” step of the IFO method helps you eliminate as much as possible early, before you start organizing anything in earnest. Remember, organizing what you’re just going to get rid of later is usually a waste of time.
- #5: Choose one small set of data and move it to a structured permanent location.
The final “Organize” step of the IFO method often takes the most time overall, but it’s not as difficult as you might think—just time-consuming. This task helps give you that first small win of getting a bit of your data into a final organized spot.
- #6: Begin forming a single habit to address one specific area of your digital mess.
Habits are the best key to being able to work through a large, time-consuming organization process. Training yourself to perform little tasks that reward you with small wins frequently will keep you coming back for more.
- #7: Identify a small portion of your data as being files that you can manage directly.
Data isn’t always stored in a way that makes it easy to work with directly. This task helps you learn to identify differences in things like documents on your computer vs. a note on your smartphone. The article also provides a good primer on how data is stored generally.
- #8: Identify one place you’re using a cloud service and consider whether local would be better.
The debate over whether or not to use cloud services will probably continue forever, but whatever choice you make should be informed and intentional. This task encourages you to evaluate the pros and cons of one specific area of your digital life.
- #9: Begin one habit specific to better management of new incoming data.
Looking at habits again, this task focuses on how to address the firehose of incoming new data. The article also discusses how to begin working through a huge backlog of old data with small tasks that you can do repeatedly.
- #10: Take one step towards setting up a reliable backup system for your data.
Almost regardless of whether you’ve organized your data, backing it up provides peace of mind and some “digital insurance” in case something goes wrong. If you don’t already have something like this in place, this task helps you move in the right direction.
- #11: Choose and implement one new habit for improving the security of your data.
Like backups, good security practices help keep your data safe—just in a different way. This task encourages you to begin thinking regularly about keeping your data safe in a variety of different ways.
- #12: Use your routine, paper notes, or tech to start or improve a habit for data organization.
After all those posts about specific kinds of habits, this task focuses on what’s involved in really establishing any kind of habit in the first place, and how to leverage things already in your life to make it happen.
- #13: Take 10 minutes to implement at least one solution to an overwhelming email inbox.
If you struggle with email like the rest of us, this post provides a variety (7, in fact) of ways to make progress with that extremely common problem. There’s even a link to a tool that I’ve used personally to clean email even faster—literally thousands of emails gone in a matter of minutes, without worrying that I deleted the wrong things!
- #14: Choose one digital organization task to postpone to allow making progress elsewhere.
This week’s topic highlights that delaying certain tasks can allow you to get through other important ones first, and ultimately make those delayed tasks emotionally easier to complete when you get back to them. This works especially if you’re in a tug-of-war between cleanliness and nostalgia.
- #15: Find one specific chunk of email that you can search out and delete all at once.
Revisiting the topic of email, this task encourages you to make a visible dent in your email with searching and filtering tools that are most likely built into the email client you’re already using.
- #16: If you have multiple email accounts, choose how you might centralize them in one spot.
For the 75% (or more) of us that have more than one email account, this post explores how you can streamline your workflow and avoid unnecessary distractions by bringing all your accounts under one digital roof.
- #17: Consider whether you have any data that you would literally want to outlive you.
While most of our data isn’t terribly important—even if we do want to keep it—some things might be worth keeping not just for a while, but for as long as possible, even beyond our own lifespans. It turns out there are ways to do this, both on your own and by paying someone else.
We’ve covered quite a bit so far: tons of high-level digital organization ideas and tricks, plus a few specific topics. We have plenty more to get to, of course. But if you haven’t seen everything above yet, dive into whatever looks interesting.
As always, happy data taming!