Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Slow Computer? Clean Up Your Files for Fall in 3 Hours

Over the long weekend, I planned on and happily did reserve some time to do a little computer clean-up in preparation for fall activities. How much time? I took care of what I needed in about 3 hours. That may sound like a lot, but considering I hadn't been doing a daily upkeep and some projects had accumulated, it really wasn't bad at all, and I felt about 10 pounds lighter at the end of it all. Hopefully, my Apple iBook G4 felt that way too! If you're in a time crunch, you can also break this up into an hour each day.

Here's an overview on how I got my computer in shape for the fall season lineup:


I use G-Mail, and fortunately had kept up fairly well with my inbox, but I still had some e-mails from the spring I had never gotten to (mostly webinars, resources, general interest items, etc.) I reviewed one e-mail that interested me the most,  and used it for an upcoming blog post on public relations tools. Using gmail's label feature, I moved the rest into a new folder, "webinars to view" and I plan on getting to them one at a time when I can fit it in, since there is no time urgency, and since I like to incorporate them with my blog posts and e-newsletter topics. Speaking of labels, I also reviewed the folders/labels I had already set up, and sorted through the 1-2 that had over 50 items in them, and deleted those that were out of date. The rest fortunately were minimal, and I can get to over time. I also really like the filters feature, and I set up some additional ones, including a filter for new Twitter followers, as I do like to review new followers and check out their websites, but prefer to do a bunch together rather then get interrupted on e-mail.
(Time: 30 minutes)

Note: as of this writing, G-mail's Priority Inbox had just launched. I haven't tried it yet, but the video link is quite charming, see below:

PDF Resources and Downloads
Are you like me, downloading a lot and maybe not getting to it right away? I have a folder I always keep on my desktop so I can easily store downloads such as e-books, reports, and other online resources. Fortunately, I have a great Lacie Hard Drive (1 terrabyte) which I purchased about a year ago and it works great. I sorted through the PDFs, which were taking up about 80 mb, and kept about half of them on my desktop and moved half over to the Lacie. I renamed my folder from "Summer Reading/Resources," to Fall. I also deleted ones that I had read and saved, or others that had been replaced by more current information, or version 2, so to speak.
(Time: 30 minutes)

Organizing Bookmarks and Saving on Evernote

My home page on Evernote. I find it a great place for long-term storage, in addition to Scribd and Boxnet.

Once upon a time, I had really organized bookmarks. And then when I upgrade Firefox to its latest version, they all disappeared! Not good. So then I started over again, and now I have things nicely organized again, and in light of what happened last time, I am researching Firefox Add-Ons that preserve your bookmarks. I am finding there are tons of programs out there, some of which even convert them to an Excel file. I am trying one out now appropriately called "Keep My Bookmarks," and I'll post an update when I restart Firefox. In terms of bookmark categories, typical ones that I use are as follows: blog, twitter, facebook, videos, my profiles, events, new programs to try, fun and recreation, SEO, etc. By they way, by organizing bookmarks, that really means saving web pages I want to come back to in the folders I have made, deleting duplicate URLS or sites I don't need or use anymore, and also double referencing some sites I might want in 2 places.

Here comes the Evernote part of the storage equation. I discovered Evernote last year, probably like many of you. I have about 40 folders stored on Evernote now. While I do like the program, I find it most useful to store more permanent files, such as photos I want to hang onto, published article clips, and other general resources. Evernote's searchable database is awesome, and has saved me more then once in trying to find files, even if they only keyword I can think of is: bagel. Not kidding. Evernote also has a new content feature called "Trunk,"  (get it? elephant? trunk?), with specialized products and articles on given topic areas, that launched in July. I tried the one on writing and found it useful and also super quick to upload and add to my account.
(Time: 1 hour)

General File Upkeep
I went into my Applications folder and found...a whole lot of programs I had forgotten all about! Kind of like reacquainting yourself with your closet, or rather, the back of your closet. I was able to delete at least 5 programs that I had experimented with and chose not to use, and picked up another 80 or so mb's right then and there. I also found some photo files that I moved over to my "Pictures" main directory, and I also deleted a bunch of duplicates. Then, I went into my Word documents and also was able to delete about 30 files I no longer needed.
(Time: 30 minutes)

Desktop Folders,, Scribd
One of the key reorganizing tasks I had in mind concerned my desktop. I had a lot of different files for my writing, but they weren't always at my fingertips. I had so many categories, that I made folders for all the different areas, including kinds of writing, as follows:
blog post ideas, guest blog posts, interviews, published article clips, article ideas, contests, fiction, favorite get the idea. I made a master folder called "Writing" which now happily houses them all, thank goodness. And just for safekeeping, I'm a big believe in Cloud Storage, so I have accounts set up on and Scribd, where I keep backups of articles and other resources I want to share.
(Time: 30 minutes)

Total: 3 hours -  I told you so!

In an upcoming post, I'll discuss photo file storage since I don't have room in this post and I want to do a little more research. If anyone has any great file storage and organizing tips, post them in the comments here and we can all share notes on how organized we are, or will be soon!


Lisbeth Tanz said...

Hi Carrie - great post! In fact, I liked it so much that I've used it in a blog post on Savvy Freelance Writers today. Don't worry, it refers my readers to your site!

Now - to actually DO what you suggest. :)

Hope all is well,


Unknown said...

Thanks Liz, glad you enjoyed it and thanks for posting to your readers, I hope they find it useful! Maybe we can get a group discussion going over on our Facebook pages on handy tools for reorganizing...

Unknown said...

This was a great post and thanks go to Lis for also posting a link to it. Thanks for the valuable info.

Kristin Pendleton

Unknown said...

Thanks Kristin, glad you enjoyed it, let me know if you find any other useful computer tips!

Unknown said...

Great post. I do not do this enough. I set up evernote and google docs and then forgot I put documents in them. I searched for days for a file and finally found it in one of those. I definitely need a better system. If you look at my flash drive or hard drive you would think I was organized but I am not consistent about where I put things. I have blog suggestions and blog research in 3 different places.

I found your blog via Lisbeth Tanz

Unknown said...

Thanks for your comment, Julia. Yes, it can be a challenge to organize everything, but I'm thinking if I stay with the Bookmarks and the Evernote, once a season should do it. Plus the hard drive back-up is key, particularly if doing videos, they can really eat up memory! I notice my computer is running faster now that I did all this, good luck with yours!