As you reach the end of the year, you may have collated many different digital resources across various digital tools.
Now is an excellent time to get organised by devoting some time to tidying up these different tools, just like we would our physical working desk.
What is my digital desk?
Your digital desk refers to any digital tool you use to help you with productivity at home or work. Emails, reminders and file storage are examples of digital tools, and they can all benefit from being regularly tidied up.
We recommend having a thorough tidy-up at least once a year, but do not be daunted if this is your first time considering a tidy-up. All that means is you have more to gain from reorganising your digital desk.
How to tidy up
Our emails should be a place for keeping actions and references, and we use folders to keep them organised.
Suppose you have an inbox full of emails that require no action. They do not need to be in your inbox. They should be either archived or in a folder.
Archiving will not delete your emails. You can quickly find that email again with the search function or by going into the archive.
Emails we need to reference are stored in a relevant folder where we can easily access them. A tip for folders is to make them easy to create. New folders should be able to be added in under one minute.
As part of the tidy-up, I also review my folders and decide if I need to see them as part of the sidebar every day. I never delete any folders, but I move the folders I do not regularly use into another folder that I can keep minimised and out of my daily view.
Our to-do lists can either be our best friend or our worst enemy. They can be where productivity thrives or where it goes to die.
One way to become productive with your to-do list is to link outstanding tasks to open space in your calendar.
Although I recommend doing this more regularly than once a year, reviewing your open tasks and allocating them to your calendar makes it easier for you to commit to the time you need.
Scroll through your various task lists, cherry-pick those that have become more important or urgent, and get them into your calendar so you can deliver on them.
Remember to use clear verbs when writing tasks. E.g. instead of saying “sort new IT supplier”, write “make a list of potential IT suppliers and contact the most suitable for a quote.”
Tidying up your file storage is usually a job for more than one person, especially when trying to organise an entire organisation’s files.
At DSC, each of our root folders in Sharepoint (the file storage system we use) is managed by the appropriate department head, and they are responsible for making sure it is tidy. Our Marketing folder is looked after by the Head of Marketing, Finance by our Finance Director etc.
In the last week of the year, the department heads and their teams take the time to review their folders and tidy up any documents that are no longer needed. This can involve deleting files or adding new folders to make things more orderly.
Keeping things tidy
We recommend setting one day a year when you encourage people to focus on tidying up. We usually do this the week before Christmas when we have a little more time, but it is up to you when you do it.
Keeping a tidy inbox, to-do list, and file storage will only enhance your organisation’s capacity to be productive.
It starts with managers and leaders permitting their teams to tidy up and lead by example by tidying up their digital desks.