Friday, February 8, 2013

Tackling a virtual mess

Last January I admitted that my computer is severely disorganized. I decided I would tackle it after my exams, and so I could start the new semester with a freshly organized working area (I use the computer as a notebook, and do not print any notes unless necessary, so most of my studying is done with the laptop. That's why it was so messy... or so I want to believe.)

And then?

Then I tried. As you know if you read my January evaluation, trying wasn't quite enough. I found myself easily overwhelmed just by thinking I should start working on it. And when I did, I was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of files so out of place. Where to start? And, most importantly, how to start?

So I developed a system. Amazingly (and even though my results do not reflect it), a system that worked. I am willing to bet it would work for everybody. Why? Because it is simple. Easy. It doesn't require a careful pre-planning of which folders to create, where do they go, are they really needed... You can stop halfway through it and resume when you feel like it without any problem.

The cons? It is a bit tedious if you, like I, have let the mess get too big. But that's my fault, not the system's!

Are you like me and now you want to know how to do it?

  1. Open the folder you want to organize.
  2. Forget about the folders for a while and go to the first file there. Does it need to be there?
    1. If the answer is no, drag and drop to the desktop.
    2. If the answer is yes, can it go in a sub-folder?
      1. If not, leave it there.
      2. If yes, drag and drop to the sub-folder. If the one that you need doesn't exist yet, create it first.
  3. Repeat #2 until there are no more files to go through.
  4. On with the folders. Just act as if they were files. Drag and drop. Or leave them there.
  5. And then choose one of the sub-folders and start again! (once you reach a point where there are no more sub-folders nor need for them, go back until you find one you haven't tackled yet).

Really. That's it. Just two yes/no questions, so evident that I had never thought of them before.

A little example:
That's where I started.

That's my Documents folder. I had already organized the random files there into all those folders. I decided to not go in order, to save my sanity, and opened the Studies folder.

You could scroll down for a while, in there!

Time to repeat the process. Nearly all the files went into the UO folder, which is the one for the courses I am taking now, so it makes sense. All the others were mostly organized in previous attempts.

Ah, that's better!

When it was done (why is it that there's always a lone file that does not belong into any sub-folder and just sits there?), I opened the UO folder and started sorting. 
Now, I forgot to take screenshots of that process (or maybe you can say I opted for not showing it so I would not bore you with too many pictures of folders and files). You can see, though, that in there I have a folder for each subject, plus one for important things (like enrollment fees bills) and one named Old. There go all the subjects I have already passed, so I don't have lots of folders I don't need hanging around when I am trying to save a file in its proper place.

The end!

That's how it ended: two folders for my current subjects and the Old and important things ones. There is no need to add further levels, so this branch of my folder tree ended there.

Now I just have to go and organize all the others, but what about you? Do you also feel overwhelmed by organizing "virtual" messes?

Oath's mom


  1. Yes, I can relate to this! I keep thinking I need organize my pictures into areas that make more sense. I can come up with some pretty creative names so recent files are at the top but then of course, I find I can't remember what I named the folder! I do this in my documents folder as well.

    1. Thanks for your comment Jean :)

      My pictures are an even bigger mess! And now, with the kid, I am taking 10 times more photos than before... it's a recipe for disaster!

  2. This is great! Well done on getting it organized. I am always trying to clean off my desktop but most of my files are just hidden mess now. I am sort of obsessive about my email inbox; I try to archive anything that doesn't need to be responded to and then keep emails to a minimum in my inbox. My husband does not understand this!

    1. Ah, the email inbox..! I try to ignore it because there's so much work to do there I'm still not ready for it. One day I'll get to it, though.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Becca!


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