This is a guest post by Selena Narayanasamy, who blogs about social media, blogging, caffeine, and technology on her site, Esvienne. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.
When you’re surrounded with distractions, whether that’s screaming children or the clutter of a crowded desk, you’re inviting mental chaos. Even if you manage to focus on the task at hand, you will amplify the anxiety associated with it and diminish the overall quality of your work.
One of the best solutions is changing your offline clutter into digital mayhem.
While the new piles of information may seem chaotic in their own right, there is a major difference: digital mayhem can be controlled.
This guide provides a simple step-by-step process for moving from the physical into the virtual world.
Step One: Gather Your Materials
Here’s what you’ll need:
- A scanner.
- An external hard drive and online storage (preferably cloud storage).
- A trash can.
- One or more days dedicated to the task.
Additionally, the following items are optional but amazingly useful:
- Cloud storage space with search features and folder organization.
- A mobile phone with a camera and the ability to download the applications mentioned below.
- More cookies.
Now that you’ve got your supplies together, let’s get started.
Step Two: Organize
You will want to go through all of your major files and categorize each of them in one of three categories. Category one, absolute rubbish, which should be thrown away in the trash can mentioned above; category two, reference materials that aren’t strictly necessary but will be good to have around (put these in a pile); and category three, legally mandatory or tax-related materials.
At the end of this step, you should have two piles — your reference and mandatory materials.
Step Three: Prepare Your Tools
In the following steps, we’ll be converting the physical files to digital format. While a scanner alone is technically enough for this task, there are certain mobile phone applications that can simplify this process. The two most notable types of applications are business card to contact storage (such as SnapDat or MyCard), and image to PDF converters (such as ScanR).
Download these applications, make sure your tools are working, and eat some of the cookies mentioned in Step One.
Step Four: Scan or Snapshot
All of the items in your two piles will now need to be converted into digital format. Your mobile phone applications are best used on receipts, business cards, printed images, and reference materials where legibility isn’t absolutely vital.
Use your scanner for any legally mandatory materials (contracts, invoices, tax related items, and so forth). Following this, eat more cookies.
Step Five: Transfer the Files
You will need to transfer the files first from your phone to your computer, then from your computer to your different storage locations. You will want at least two iterations of these different resources. An external hard drive and cloud storage are usually going to be your best bets. If you absolutely can’t do these, a burnt DVD and FTP storage will do the trick.
When possible, create folders and labels to accompany your files. This will help in retrieving the items quickly in the future.
From this point forward, it’s just a matter of keeping up on your digital obsession. While still chaotic, this new formatting is easier to organize and search, and stays appropriately off your desk and off your mind.
Selena Narayanasamy loves everything that has to do with social media, blogging, caffeine, and technology. You can find her blogging ridiculously on her site, Esvienne, or get into her head by following her tweets @SelenaVidya.
Simple Productivity Blog takes no responsibility for the weight gain you might experience by following these instructions.
Photo by alancleaver_2000