This is an excerpt from Shift’s Blog “How to Organize Your Digital Life for 2021” by Simon Vreeswijk, originally published on January 19 2102

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A new year typically signals a fresh start. Whether it’s eating healthier or getting your finances in order, the first step is to set a goal. But you’ll then need to follow through with action.

One popular New Year’s resolution is to declutter various spaces. In recent years, the urge to clean has broadened from closets and drawers to include the digital devices we use every day. From your smartphones and tablets to your laptops and computers, chances are, it’s been a while since you’ve taken some time to get your desktops, mobile apps, and online accounts in order.

Yes, time is probably at a premium. But a few hours today could provide years of rewards. Here are some benefits you’ll get from organizing your digital life.

You’ll feel more in control. If most days have you overwhelmed and stressed, digital clutter could be one cause.
You’ll have fewer distractions. Instead of spotting a forgotten folder on your desktop while you’re looking for something else, you’ll stay focused on the task at hand.

You see only what’s important. When your devices are filled with clutter, it’s tough to home in on your current tasks and projects. Decluttering helps you minimize what you see when you log into your devices and apps so you can get straight to the point.

You get a full picture of what you have. Whether you’re cleaning up your inbox or deleting unused apps on your phone, the process forces you to take a full look at everything you have. In the future, when you need something, you’ll likely know exactly where to find it.
You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment. Simply cleaning up your devices will give you an incredible sense of accomplishment. You’ll feel as though you’re free to make a fresh start.

Clean Up Your File Folders

Your email accounts aren’t the only area where your devices can become bogged down over time. The folders on your computer need to be similarly organized.

The first rule to incorporate relates to your desktop and your Downloads folders. Make it a practice to never leave files in either place. Either delete them once you’re finished with them or move them to a file folder that clearly matches the category of the subject matter.

But before you can do all that, you’ll need to come up with a folder system that effectively categorizes your past, current, and future files. If you run a business and have multiple teams, you may have a folder for each team. If you’re in accounting or HR, you may choose to separate items by year, with subfolders in each year that relates to the categories you use. Whatever system you choose, make sure it’s flexible enough to give yourself room to adjust things in the years to come.

Use the Right Tools

Does it seem like this will take way too much time? The good news is, technology can make it easier. There’s no limit to the number of tools you can employ in decluttering your electronic devices. Here are a few we recommend.

Shift – Shift can pull all your apps into one easy-to-use desktop that lets you toggle between them. You can even set up multiple account logins that keep you from having to log out and in again.

Charli – If you’re looking for an all-in-one solution to manage everything in the background, Charli is a must-have tool. You can connect up all the apps you use and have Charli organize your file folder structures, keep your inbox in order, and tag important documents.

Unroll.me – Over time, email subscriptions can overwhelm your inbox. Unroll.me can pull all those subscriptions into a list that lets you easily unsubscribe from the ones you no longer want.

Typedesk – Automate your responses to emails, social media comments, app store comments, and more. Simply type your responses once and let the app do the rest.

Filevine – For legal teams, Filevine can help you keep all your casefiles and projects in one place.

Ready to get organized?
While you’re setting up your systems and decluttering your devices, consider an app that can bring everything together. Shift helps you consolidate all your favorite desktop apps in one handy location. You can then easily toggle between the apps you need each day. To learn more about how Shift can help you declutter your desktop, take the feature tour.

Read the full blog post here
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Looking for more tools to help you level up productivity and get organized? Related Article: Check out our recommendations for top productivity tools for SMBs in 2021.