2022 is upon us and as we say goodbye to 2021 I also had to say goodbye to my time at university. However, in the last 6 months, I’ve started some new exciting projects (such as an Etsy shop!). All these changes have made me realise I need to get my digital life in order. So today I want to share how I have organised my laptop.
I know this post is going up at the beginning of a new year and though this is always a good time to go through files and make changes. Realistically, you don’t need to wait till the new year to reorganise your laptop. It can be better if you stay on top of these things and reorganise before your laptop becomes an uncontrollable mess. No, I’m not talking from experience /s.
How I Organised My Laptop For 2022
File management is one of those little things which does help in the long term. I try to keep on top of file management but 2021 was a busy year and I’ve become a bit lax when it comes to saving files in the right place.
So I want to take you through my process for reorganising my files. The first step was first to break all my files down into the main categories. So for this, I would organise everything based on what project they are associated with. For example client work and personal projects. The personal projects can be further broken down into categories such as my blog, design and other projects.
From there I organise the files further based on the date. Creating a hierarchy so all work is placed into folders based on year, and then further organised based on month and day. As we’re at the end of 2021 I’ll also take this opportunity to create new 2022 folders. I’ll also make sure all files and folders have accurate file names.
If you’re anything like me this can also be a good time to go through your top-level folders. My documents folder tends to become a catch-all for everything I’m not sure where to store. It can be a good idea to go through these files and organise or delete them as appropriate. If you have a number of the same type of file, scans for example. You might want to create a whole new folder just for those files.
It’s always a good idea to backup your computer every so often. The exact frequency depends on you and how dependent you are on your files. I took the opportunity to backup all my important files while reorganising the rest of my computer. However because I work freelance and all my work is saved on my laptop I should be doing this more often.
Also, remember that keeping multiple backups is preferable to just one. I back up everything to an external hard drive but I also have a Google Drive where I have important files saved. Cloud backup doesn’t work so well with Photoshop/ Illustrator files as they can get large very quickly. But I have everything related to my blog saved to a Google Drive as well as a hard disk backup.
While creating backups of files it’s also a good time to delete files you don’t need anymore. I have a 500GB hard disk in my laptop. This felt like a lot when I first got the laptop but Adobe files can get big quick. I’m happy some raw files if I have a backup saved somewhere else. This can also be a good time to delete any duplicate files or anything else you don’t need any longer.
Remove unused applications
The end of the year is a good time to go through all the applications installed on your laptop and assess what you need. While I was in university it was common for me to have 5+ Adobe programs open at the same time. Now that I’ve graduated there are some programs I don’t need any more.
The exact programs you choose to delete can depend on multiple factors. If there is something you use rarely but is easy to re-download you may want to uninstall till it is needed. This also has the bonus of freeing up space on your laptop. Alternatively, if there is a program you use rarely but takes up very little space it can be easier just leaving it be.
My desktop can get quite chaotic as I don’t organise any of the files stored in this area. As a designer, I tend to take a lot of screenshots for reference. All these files are also saved to the desktop and after a while can clog up the space on my desktop.
One of the first things I did to get this folder under control was change the default location that any screenshots are saved. This is quite a simple process on macOS. You just have to press Command + Shift + 5, then click options and choose alternate folder or Other Location. In my case, I created a new Screenshots folder within my documents so any images are automatically saved to this location.
This year I decided to create a custom wallpaper to help me organise the folders on my desktop. I deleted most of the files on my desktop and replaced them with shortcuts to the folders I use most often. I’d love to claim this as an original idea but I saw this from a person on YouTube who had a similar set-up. I now have containers on my desktop which organise these shortcuts.
I will admit though that part of the reason I decided to create this type of wallpaper was out of sheer laziness. The shortcuts save me from having to browse to that specific folder. A few of the example wallpapers I looked at also had a small monthly calendar on them. I loved this idea, though I also created a version without this as there is a chance I forget to change the wallpaper each month.
If you like the idea of using an organisational wallpaper I have these files available for download, you just need to click the download link below and it should be saved to your computer. The images are saved as .jpeg files so should work no matter if you’re using Windows or Mac. Just remember to change the wallpaper each month if you’re using the calendar version!
Notion Organisational System
I’ve gone through a love/ hate relationship with Notion this year. I was a little late to the bandwagon and only started using it after I had graduated from university. I’m planning on writing a full blog post about Notion at some point. However I’m still in the process of setting up my workspace.
I’ve started using Notion to store information related to projects I’ve set up in 2021. Many of these pieces of information came from files I would previously have saved to my Google Drive. The way Notion is set up allows me to save and link these documents together, making them easier to find. I’ve found it particularly useful for organising client invoices and various bits of financial information.
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I have to admit I did find Notion tricky to use at first, it didn’t quite work the way I wanted it to. This is part of the reason why it has taken me so long to write about it. But the database feature is particularly powerful. I’ve recently used it to set up a task manager which helps me see an overview of my month and all projects I’m working on. I know that up to this point I’ve been fully on the Bullet Journal bandwagon. But I will admit some things just work better in a digital space.
And thats how I organised my laptop for the new year. I know the title of this post implies that this is something you should do at the beginning of a new year but realistically, this is something you can do at any point. If you’ve just started a new job, or you’re heading to college/ university it can be extremely useful to use a similar process and get yourself organised in advance. It will save so many headaches in the long run.
Thanks for reading!