Let’s play word association. Ready?
The word is “Clutter.” Quick: What comes to mind?
Maybe it’s that closet you don’t go into anymore, or the corner of your office with the stacks of paper piled randomly. Or maybe those overhead cabinets you open only with one hand out to protect your face. Am I close?
You may be less inclined to associate “Clutter” with your digital world — your files, folders, hard drives, emails. In fact, you might even consider these the opposite of clutter. After all, if they’re digital they’re not piling up on your desk. So how can they be clutter?
At this point, you might be asking “is there even such a thing as digital clutter? You bet there is! And for a busy professional like you, digital clutter can be just as harmful to your productivity as all the other stuff piling up in your office.
You likely spend most of your workday using digital office tools — to share files, exchange emails and send text messages on your mobile phone. Each of these activities contributes to digital clutter. Rather than becoming overwhelmed by this clutter, here are three suggestions for a “Digital Spring Cleaning”:
1. Get organized with cloud storage
“Which version of the doc has that change I just made? Did I update the one on my flash drive, or the version on my laptop? Or was it the version I just emailed myself?” Sound familiar?
There are many reasons to start using a cloud storage service like Dropbox, if you’re not already doing so. One great reason is that it’ll help you with document control, so you don’t have to keep asking yourself whether the most current version of your sales presentation is v2.ac or v2.5 or v2_ac_Mar30. This also helps you cut down on the digital clutter that arises from maintaining all of those files.
With Dropbox’s free service, you’ll get several Gigs of cloud storage. Then you simply install your Dropbox account on all of your devices — say, your desktop, laptop and tablet. This way, each time you update that presentation and save it to Dropbox, it’ll be accessible on all of your devices. Instant document control.
Another great and cost-effective way to leverage the cloud is with online backup, like our own KeepItSafe® cloud service. According to an article by ZDNet, using a cloud backup can ensure your important documents are always accessible. Computers go down at your office? Power outage? Break-in? No problem. With your cloud backup system, you can access all of your files (including emails) within minutes.
One added benefit: a recent study from Capita IT Services found organizations that use cloud computing save on average more than 15 percent on IT spending.
2. Move your paper-based processes to the cloud
One business process that often generates paperwork is faxing. Paper faxes create more clutter and more work, with the need for filing and organizing.
But with the right online fax service, such as world leader eFax®, you can eliminate both the physical and digital clutter of dealing with those antiquated faxes. That’s because eFax can eliminate paper entirely — by letting you receive faxes as email attachments, then edit and even sign those faxes electronically, and finally send them back, by email or online, through eFax. No printing, no scanning — not even to sign your name.
So that takes care of physical clutter — no paper generated. But how does online faxing remove digital clutter?
A service like eFax also indexes and archives all of your sent and received fax documents, and makes those files easily retrievable online. So you won’t need to worry about keeping track of your digital faxes — or generate clutter keeping them stored locally. They’re always there for you, in the cloud.
3. Clear the productivity-sapping clutter from your mobile phone
On any given day, you probably spend more time looking at your mobile than at any other single screen. So don’t waste your time hunting through a zillion apps to find the one you need for business.
If you’ve given a mobile app a try and it’s not delivering, delete it. You deserve better than to have to sift screens full of icons on your mobile phone because it’s loaded with apps that have already failed you and your business.
Another way to clear the clutter on your mobile: use a virtual phone solution like eVoice. In addition to a virtual 800 number and professionally recorded greetings, eVoice even transcribes your voicemails and emails them to you — another easy way to forward messages to your team and clear them from your phone!
Remember: digital clutter is still clutter, every bit as disruptive as the physical stuff. Happy cleaning!