Out of sight, out of mind. When the clutter in front of you isn’t physical, it’s easy to ignore. 

Scratch that. For some, even when it is physical, it’s easy to ignore. See: any episode of Hoarding: Buried Alive and/or fast rise in popularity among Marie Kondo’s life-changing tidying methods.

And when it comes to our digital spaces, people transfer their thresholds for organization accordingly. You’re either someone who opens their phone to a smattering of red notification circles. Or you’re someone who’s always at “inbox zero.”

Regardless of which camp you fall into, there’s no denying the benefit that comes from an organized digital workspace. It’s a long term game with productivity-filled results. Keep these tips in mind to achieve them.

Learn to Let Go

If you’ve ever watched a parent go through a memory box full of their children’s art and sports participation trophies, then you’ve probably heard every excuse in the book to counter letting go. The same thought process often translates to our work lives.

What if I need this one day?

I spent so much time on this—there’s no way I can throw it away.

It’s not taking up much space, so it doesn’t hurt to keep it.

Do yourself a favor and learn a thing or two about impermanence from the making (and destruction) of sand mandalas. You’d be surprised by how little you actually need.

Set aside an hour or two every month to check in with your files, photos, unused apps, and email subscriptions. Assess the amount of space they’re taking up on your harddrive and be real with yourself. Ask a new question: what can I make room for if I do get rid of this?

Set Up Email Folders, Sub-folders, Sub-sub-folders, Etc.

Maintaining inbox zero is less about an innate sensibility and more about building better work habits over time that stick. To do so, make use of the functionality already in front of you.

Create folders and sub-folders within your inbox for the sake of organizing communications. Choose a labeling system that makes sense to you to ensure it’s something you’ll actually use. Alternatively, if you find your inbox overwhelming, consider partnering with a CRM for the sake of added functionality and better streamlined efforts across teams.

Embrace the Backup (and Updates)

It doesn’t matter if you’re not in IT. You should know how to and actively participate in backing up your system with an external harddrive. Doing so protects your files in the event of a malfunction, while also preserving the life and speed of your computer.

Additionally, make software updates to your phone and computer regularly. And know when it’s time to upgrade the hardware itself.

Create a Filing System

Filing rooms from office spaces of old were organized with naming conventions for the sake of findability. While it may be easier to search through thousands of files nowadays with keywords and a click, it doesn’t hurt to apply similar filing principles to your digital workspace.

A unified system makes shared workspaces easier to work within for everyone involved. Just make sure to pick a process and follow it—allowing room for it to evolve as time goes on.