A clean computer gives you a clear mind and better focus, explains Rhonda Scharf

Think about your closet and imagine that instead of hanging up your clothes, you just open the door and throw it all in on the floor. You know that your black pants and red shirt are in there, and you will eventually find them if you sort through the pile when you need them.

Instead, imagine that same closet with the clothes hung up. It is so much easier to find things when you can see them. Take it a step further and imagine that you sort your clothes, so your shirts are with your shirts and your pants are with your pants. Let’s get really organized and imagine that you color batch your clothes so that all three black shirts are hung up together instead of randomly in the shirts section.

Your computer is the same. You will find everything on your computer using a folder or organization system. The search function is good if you have a system for naming and finding files. But imagine how much easier it would be if you invested a little time into creating a storage system that makes finding things faster and easier.

The thought of a closet like the first one I described would give me hives. Even thinking of my clothes in a pile (shirts with shirts and pants with pants in a pile) isn’t suitable for me. I want systems that take little time to implement but make me efficient and productive daily. Every second turns into minutes, and minutes turn into hours spent looking for things.

Not only do we need a filing system, but we also need to keep our computers clutter-free.

Is Your Desktop Cluttered?

A messy desktop filled with hundreds of files and disorganized folders will cause just as much stress as piles of paper on your desk. According to getmagical.com, over 66% of workers say they would be more productive in a less cluttered workspace, whilst officemax.com reports that 90% of Americans admit that disorganization at work negatively impacts their lives. When disorder occurs, productivity (77%), state of mind (65%), motivation (53%), and happiness (40%) are negatively affected.

On my phone, I keep all the photos of the grandkids; my husband, Warren, keeps apps he doesn’t use. Seriously, he has at least eight screens of apps, and he has no idea what most of them are for. Trying to find anything requires him to scroll through multiple screens of icons not set in any order nor batched in any recognizable fashion whatsoever. When I ask why he keeps them, he responds, “I might need them at some point.” He can go back to the App Store and get them if he needs them, but he is afraid to take them off his phone (I still can’t understand why!). People’s habits are hard to change. Are you making excuses as to why your computer is cluttered?

“A cluttered desktop can increase your cognitive load and reduce your cognitive processing.” ~ Dr Kristy Goodwin

Don’t Forget Your Phone

Both Warren and I are due for a mobile phone upgrade. Each time we are due for an iOS upgrade, we need to sort through photos, attachments, apps, and anything that takes space, as we are dangerously low on space. I know the bulk of my phone is filled with pictures of my five grandchildren. I’m unwilling to delete those photos, so my definition of clutter is anything that isn’t one of them!

I recently had to update the phone and get rid of things. It amazes me how much clutter is on my phone – things I don’t need but that end up staying on my phone as long as I have space. Once I started running out of space, I realized how cluttered my phone was. As annoying as it is to purge the things I don’t need regularly, I appreciate knowing I’m not carrying around a cluttered phone.

Tips for Keeping Organized

1. Use folders

Establish a filing system for your digital documents to ensure easy retrieval and storage. The most common is a folder system based on subject, client, photos, attachments, status, date, or task.

Creating folders is simple. Click the right mouse button anywhere on your screen and select ‘New Folder.’ Create folders and subfolders that stack logically.

2. Declutter

Regularly declutter your computer by date, duplication, and need. You can archive, zip, offload, or delete to get rid of files. Finding the files you need will be more efficient even if you have room to store the old ones. Just because you can keep everything doesn’t mean you should keep everything.

Think about looking for a file called 2024 Budget. There is more than one file with that in the title. You’ll find the Word file, PowerPoint presentation, PDF summary, and Excel spreadsheet at least. You may have different versions based on the save date. Wouldn’t it make sense to delete older versions so you can declutter and make your searches faster and easier?

Schedule regular decluttering dates on your calendar. This may be your Friday afternoon task or your first-of-the-month calendar reminder. If you store things in the cloud, your computer will also run faster.

3. Organize

Create logical naming conventions that pair well with your folder system. Be consistent. If you are using a shared file system (such as SharePoint), spend time as a team to agree on a naming convention that everyone understands. Just because it is logical to you doesn’t mean that it is logical to everyone who needs the file.

4. Delete

Delete icons you don’t use. Look at your desktop screen. If you have so many icons that you can’t see the photo in the background, you have too many. Seriously, how many icons do you need to see? Are you even using them? This is classic clutter, and you’ve likely ignored it until reading this. Start deleting! It makes your computer run much smoother, too.

You can also change your icon size. It may not seem like a big deal, but it can help prevent eye strain while making icons more distinguishable from one another.

5. Use your taskbar

Using the taskbar minimizes program icons cluttering up your workspace. You can pin commonly used programs here for easy access while keeping them off the central area of your desktop. Remove tools you don’t use often from the taskbar to keep things clean.

My first manager used to tell me, “A clean desk is a sign of a clean mind,” which naturally means that a cluttered desk (or desktop) is a sign of a cluttered mind!


We all know we are more efficient when we are organized. We work faster and smarter. We also know that it helps keep our brain from feeling overwhelmed. A clean computer gives you a clear mind and better focus. It also demonstrates to others your professionalism and your commitment to excellence.

Go ahead and organize your computer and reap the benefits of increased productivity, creativity, and job satisfaction. Use your extra time to enjoy life (and organize your physical desktop and closet, too!).

Rhonda Scharf, CSP, HoF, GSF is a Certified Speaking Professional, Hall of Fame, trainer and author based in Ottawa. She helps organizations feel motivated and educated through her interactive, realistic and fun training programs and keynote speeches. If ... (Read More)

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