When it comes to anything that I can touch with my hands, I am horrible at organizing. At least once a week, and sometimes twice, my husband has to call my cell phone so I can find it. However, when it comes to my computer, I am organized. Below is a list of things I have done to achieve electronic organization. Maybe some of them will work for you.

Finding files on your computer

Upgrade to Windows 7 (Unless you use Linux or a Mac, and then you're already ahead of the game.) Windows 7 does not seem to do a whole lot more than XP on the surface, but it does everything better behind the scenes. Since I upgraded to Windows 7, I haven't had as many emergency reboots or blue screens in the middle of the day. Besides stability, Windows 7 has a wonderful search engine and libraries.

Search

The Search feature in Windows 7 is much better than prior versions. It searches the file names, the tags, the file type, and the file contents. The search looks through your primary drives and other storage devices attached to your computer. Amazingly, the search is fast.

Libraries

Libraries are a wonderful way to keep multiple folders or directories held together in one spot. The folders and directories do not even need to be on the same physical device. As an example, by default you have a library called Music. By default, one folder is included in the Music library: "My Music." In addition to the My Music folder on my local hard drive, I have also added a folder on a network storage device. Thumb drives can be added too.

Synchronize

It's easy to double book appointments if the calendar on your phone (or paper book) is not in sync with your calendar on your computer or on your wall. Also, it is no fun if you're ready for an appointment, but you don't have the right phone number with you because your system isn't synced up.

Set up your calendars to synchronize

I use a Google calendar. (You can use another calendaring system, like Outlook. The key is to synchronize everything.) I can add an appointment to my iPhone and it is automatically updated in my Google calendar. Since the Google calendar is web based, I can access it on any computer. Once the set up was done, I haven't had to think about it since. Additionally, my husband's iPhone is set up to sync with the family calendar the same way. The kids' iPod is also set up this way.

I can check any phone or computer in the house and get the same calendar.

Set up your contacts to synchronize

Again, I use Google, but you can use Outlook or other products to make this work. I can add contacts either on the Google website (contacts are accessed through Gmail) or on my phone. I can view the contacts in either place and get the same information.

Clean up daily

If your work environment is cluttered, your brain is cluttered and you don't know where to start. So, at the end of each workday, I do a little cleaning.

Desktop

My browsers download everything to my desktop. My office products have a default save location as my desktop. At the end of the day, my desktop can look cluttered. Therefore, I make it a point to file everything away before turning off the machine. Most files are tossed in the recycle bin, but other files are stowed away safely in libraries.

Email

I like to see my inbox empty or only contain a handful of messages before I finish for the day. Throughout the day, I make a point of taking care of email right away. I do not stop other tasks to check email, because then I'd never get anything done, but when I check email, I try to take care of as much stuff as possible.

The great majority of email can be scanned and trashed (or archived.) If you don't need it again, get rid of it. Some emails I know I will want to reference later. So, I label those and then archive them. (Gmail uses labels, which is similar to Outlook's folders, but an email can have multiple labels.) Some emails will take a while to deal with, and those are the only emails that get to stay in my inbox for a bit.

Technology offers some great tools to keep organized, but it can be tricky to decide what is useful and what just bogs a person down. These tips, Windows 7, synchronization, and daily cleanup are what work for me. I hope these thoughts give you inspiration for your electronic organization.

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