Originally published on May 6, 2015 @ 9:32 pm

Estimated Reading TIme: 3 minutes

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I know what you're thinking… “Spring cleaning your computer? That doesn't sound fun at all.”

But it is.

Remember that show Friends and how excited Monica used to get for Spring Cleaning?

That's me.

I set up lists, plans, and my house gets a thorough cleaning, decluttering, and reorganizing. I love it. It makes me giddy every year. My kids will think I'm crazy, my husband already thinks I'm crazy. Hey, you might even call me crazy. Doesn't bother me one bit because my house gets clean and I'm happy. But never happier than when I get to apply my spring cleaning to my computer.

Throughout the year, I admit, I end up neglecting my poor iMac.This faithful companion has been with me for about 4 years. And I just love it.

It Deserves Spring Cleaning.

It really does make a difference. After all, I — I mean people — celebrate spring cleaning around their home for a number of reasons – all of which can be applied to a computer:

  1. Out with the old and organize the new
  2. Backup. Backup. Backup.
  3. Clean up.
  4. Protect against spiders viruses
  5. Make room for more stuff!

In fact, the more work you do as a freelance writer, the more books your write, the more documents and drafts you end up storing on your computer for no reason.

If you're like me, chances are you have stuff and musings everywhere. Notebooks over there, notes on your phone, a digital voice recorder with brainstorming ideas over here, Evernote is full, thumb drives are decorating your drawers. And 800 copies of 350 stories or half-stories spread across various flash drives, cloud drives, hard drives, and even burnt onto discs.

You, dear writer, will benefit the most from this tiny little ritual.

Spring Cleaning? Don't neglect your computer! blog title overlay

First, Clear off that Desktop. My desktop becomes a sort of net that catches everything. Especially when I'm roaming the Internet. “Ohh, I like that picture”, “Ah, I want to save that recipe”, “I bet I could sew something like this”…

It's endless, mindless, relentless files of things I found interesting once upon a time but never got around to actually doing anything about it.

Spring Cleaning Your Computer: Time to clear it out.

Sort, Pack, or Toss. That is to say, go through everything and choose what to do with it:

  1. Still need it or find it useful? Sort it into it's proper place
  2. Holds sentimental value that isn't necessarily useful but still a must have? Pack it into a storage disc or storage cloud
  3. Doesn't fit into either Number 1 or Number 2? Toss it into your trash / Recycle Bin.

Other catch-all culprits?

  • Documents Folder
  • Pictures Folder
  • Music Folder
  • Downloads Folder
  • Sticky Notes

Do the same for each of these: Sort, Pack, or Toss. All those graphics you've been creating in PicMonkey, get them sorted and moved so they can stop clogging up your computer.

Next, programs and applications!

Have you ever heard that saying… If you haven't worn it during the past year, you won't wear it again? I know – that's for clothing.

But it can totally work for your computer as well!

That old word processor that you used to use before you started using Scrivener or some other word processor?

That old photo editing software you used when you first set up your site but haven't touched since?

That video editing software you downloaded as part of a free trial but then decided not to buy?

The endless applications for accessories you don't use or maybe don't even own anymore? (Headphones, pen mouse, microphone, mouse pad… etc.)

If you really are unsure about getting rid of software, then you can always create a new file that holds all the registration information / serial numbers / etc so you can reinstall it later. Or, just keep it. Maybe sort it into an “unused” folder and see if, over the next year, you go in there to use anything.

If the answer is still no? Time to toss.

Third – Cyberspace: email mailboxes, contacts, bookmarks, cookies, temporary Internet files.

Unsubscribe from all those unnecessary newsletters and promotions lists that you got yourself onto, get rid of those bookmarks that you never use or are no longer valid links.

Sort, pack, or toss.

Now that you've finished, empty your recycle bin and delete the tossed stuff forever – you'll find everything runs so much more smoothly. And – even better – now you will be able to find those files that you do use more quickly and easily.

Celebrate with a new desktop wallpaper and a happy dance!

You paid good money for your computer, right? So you want to keep it running as strong as possible for as long as possible. Regular cleaning can help.

Did you enjoy this article? Here are some more posts on freelance writing you may like:

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What happens if you don't clean your computer?

The short answer: your computer will stop running very well. Junk files can slow down your computer's performance and make it harder for you to find the files you want when you want them.

How do you clean out your computer?

Sort, Pack, and Toss. Start with the folders you use as “catch alls” to download or save your files to. Sift through the files and determine which ones need to get sorted to a better place, which ones need to get stored in a backup drive, and which ones can be deleted for good. Also uninstall any unused programs and application.

How often should you clean your computer?

This is really going to depend on how frequently you use your computer and the type of activity you perform while on your computer. You should aim for a minimum of once or twice a year. If you notice lags in your computer's performance you can bump it up to 3 or 4 times per year.

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