How To Painlessly Organize ALL Your Digital Files

Ever get that feeling that you have too many digital files? Minimalism is not only useful for decluttering your physical surroundings, but it’s also important when you have a “digital life.” A cluttered desktop, overloaded hard drive (does anyone even still use this?) and multiple cloud services can make for a very confusing digital life.  

How do you keep track of it all?


Recently, I approached my incredible personal assistant, Quay Hayden, with the daunting task of organizing all of my digital files. And when I say all, I am referring to every file I’ve created since early 2007!


After I assigned the task, I got to thinking. Why should I have my assistant spending his valuable time organizing files I may never, ever use? What about those divorce documents even I don’t want to be reminded of? What about those novels I have always wanted to get back to editing but have not prioritized? It’s only been seven years, but there’s a lifetime of files in there.


The organizational divas will tell you that you must rename every file with a consistent naming formula. All folders must be uniformly named. All files should be backed up on a hard drive every 12th day of the month, with an extra hard drive backup stored at Grandpa Billy’s house just in case your house burns down. What the heck? Who has time for all this stuff--only the digital organizational divas charging their $150/rate to do it for you. I’m only half-joking.


After months of staring at this recurring task in my Asana productivity system, I decided to tackle it myself. I reassigned the task to me--I’m sure Quay was thanking the heavens--and decided on this approach.


  1. Create an All Old Files folder in Dropbox.


I readily admit that the organizational divas will give me an F for this non-best practice. I decided that anything I don’t want to see in the near future gets tossed into this folder. Simple as that!



  • Finder is my go-to search tool.



If there’s any file I need to find on my computer or in Dropbox, I just search for it in Finder. No more drilling through 15 sub-folders to find things. Just type in a few search terms, and wah-lah! No need to over-organize.



  • Evernote is my new Junk Drawer with a few good Cabinets.



If you’ve followed any of my old productivity posts, you’ll notice I praised Evernote and once used it as my productivity system. That was pre-Asana. I’m in love with my system in Asana now, and Evernote now is a catch-all for my web browsing and old notes.



  • Google Drive is my favorite client tool.



Any client work now is migrated over to Google Drive. I love being able to easily share documents, spreadsheets and slide presentations via Google Drive. It’s much simpler for clients to provide feedback there, and clients love it!



  • I don’t save ANYTHING on my computer hard drive.



Nada. Nothing. If it’s home-related → Dropbox. If it’s business-related → Google Drive. If it’s fun stuff from the interwebs → Evernote. That’s it!



  • If in doubt, delete.



Packrats won’t like this advice. Sure, you might lose a few files that you “needed” in the future. Ask yourself if it’s THAT important to keep them. If so, just move them to that All Old Files folder and be done with it.


This past Saturday, I finally became free of that digital clutter. Time for me to focus on an *uber secret program launch* for Mindi Zone Marketing. Stay tuned!




Your Turn: What method do you use to organize or clean out that digital clutter? I’m always searching for ways to streamline my own process.