To live in our modern world is to live in the digital age. Organizing our lives with the amount of digital tools at our disposal is hardly a challenge – but it can become quite troublesome, even considerably inefficient.
It can be particularly frustrating because there are just so many aspects to it: management, security, storage, updates, and the list goes on. So we've come up with a short list of some of the most basic, yet important tips and tricks that you can use to organize your digital life.
Data management: Diligence is a (real) virtue
First rule of data management: classification. Not just classification mind you, but diligent classification. We all know how important each bit of data is, but diligence is something that we often forget to maintain in the long run.
Oftentimes, we find ourselves leaving one little MP3 file inside an audit folder, letting simple notes and short documents become cluttered, or even ignoring piling notifications and confirmation emails. Before you know it, it already becomes too cluttered to clean efficiently without wasting too much time.
ProTip: Instantly file all data where it should be - no matter how small, or how insignificant it may seem at the moment.
Redundancy is not (necessarily) security
Backup. This is perhaps the most important word in digital security. More than just prevention, it is generally far safer to simply copy the file and store it in as many different alternative locations as you can. We tend to feel like the more copies we have, the less chance we have of losing our data.
While that is true, digital security does come with many different meanings and context. Unauthorized access protection is just one part of it, and there is also the issue of storage security. Unless you are a RAID system fanatic, a typical user would only ever require a copy of a file in one or two alternative sources. So, to put it simply: secure your file access and your file access space. Less redundant files, less clutter, less management needed.
Consider usage priorities when choosing external HDDs
With hard drives, bigger is usually always better. Data transfer speed, read/write redundancy, and other specs are just as important. However, in terms of usage, performance considerations for external HDDs tend to be regarded as secondary.
Do you need them on the go? Do you need to constantly carry your entire database? Is it wirelessly accessible? Storage size won't matter if a fast access on-the-go hub is what you need. Read/write redundancy becomes moot if the drive is primarily used for archiving. Portability is useless if backup is the main objective.
Those are just the basics, but you get the idea. It’s best to consider what kind of storage you’ll actually need, how you’ll need it, and how often you’ll need it, then go from there.
Conceal your passwords in passwords
Saving a text file in a password-protected archive? That's certainly one way to do it. But more specifically, this tip is directed at coding your passwords in a way that only you can decipher.
If you have so many passwords that remembering them might become a challenging task (or risk), try coding them. Write them in clue words if you need to. You don't have to make it too complicated, you only need the code to relate to something that only you would know. We don't have to remind you not to use just one or two passwords for everything, right?
Use the right software for the right data archive
Need to organize e-statements, bills, receipts, and other similar stuff? Get the right software for the job, and save it in the right archive. While this is typically a no-brainer for most established businesses – independent freelancers, service specialists and even standard users often overlook the critical importance of using the right software in filing electronic documents.
We'll skip specific software recommendations here, since it should be specifically tailored to what you need. But do remember that for every kind of office paperwork out there, there is most likely already a software program that is specifically designed to do it digitally.
Notes as reminders
We all agree that there is nothing more basic than task notifications guiding your day at each organized step. You know what's even simpler than notifications? Notes! Taking notes and using them as reminders is perhaps an even more straightforward way of regularly organizing your digital assets.
Got a rather important email on the way to work? Keep it as a note, and include a simple instruction on what to do with the information. This might seem random and unnecessarily obtrusive to your schedule, but this plays right back into the "deal with things before they clutter" argument that we discussed earlier. Finished taking notes? Good!
Those tips should be able to cover most of the basic things that you need to do to organize your digital life. Feel free to modify these tips to suit the system that you use, or the type of organization and/or business that you are currently managing in order to become as organized as possible!