A Guide to Digital Reorganization

Over the past month or so, I was determined to conquer my entire digital mess once and for all. I am happy to say that I have succeeded. If you are looking to reorganize your digital life here are some tips that outline the process. (By all means, feel free to customize this to your own liking, this is just how I did it).

1. Make a list for everything that needs to be organized

This is just to take stock of everything that you would like to organize, and I would really recommend looking into all of your devices as well as your cloud storage accounts, and thinking about what aspects of them you would like to organize(files, apps, settings, etc). Here is what my list looked like: 

  • Laptop → local files, apps, settings 

  • Phone → apps, settings 

  • iPad → apps, settings 

  • Google Drive → files 

  • OneDrive → files 

  • Dropbox → files  

Once you have made your list you can create a plan for when to work on each aspect of your reorganization. I would recommend starting with whatever has the most clutter on it(for me it was my laptop as it had the most files). In terms of how long you want to spend on each part, I think something like your laptop would require 2-3 days whereas your phone might only take an hour or so. 

2. Create a filing structure 

Start by creating folders that encompass major categories of your life (ex: School, Work, Personal, etc). You can create subfolders as needed, based on date, media type or another category within each of these folders. 

3. Local file organization 

This is probably the hardest part of the process but go through each of the things in your list that have file organizations associated with them and locally organize your files into your created file structure(remember to delete files that you don’t want to save anymore). For example, if your 3 main folders are School, Work, Personal, you would create each of these 3 folders on your laptop and organize everything on your laptop into them. Then you would go into your Google Drive account and repeat the process and so on and so forth. 

4. Consolidate everything into master folders. 

Once all of your files are locally organized, it’s time to create master folders. I would recommend downloading everything onto your computer and organizing everything so that you only have one folder for each of your life categories.

Note: You can also do this directly on your cloud storage service and skip the next step. 

5. Choose a cloud storage service and upload your files onto it. 

This is essential to back up your files. In terms of pricing, Google Drive has the most amount of free storage (15 GB). You also have access to more storage through UW on both Google Drive and OneDrive which you can find out more about here. But the actual service doesn’t matter that much, just make sure to download the desktop app so that your files are automatically synced. 

6. Reorganize apps 

This step is pretty simple, the best way that I have found for doing this is to take all of your apps out of their folders, delete anything that you don’t use anymore, and organize their location on your device. You can also use this time to download any apps that you have been meaning to add to your device. 

7. Optimize your settings 

This part is kind of tricky because it’s hard to tell what settings need to be optimized, but here are some suggestions on where to start. 

  • Notifications

  • Dark/Light Mode 

  • Shortcuts 

  • The location where your files are downloaded 

  • The location where your files are opened 

8. Remember to use your system!

This is the only way to maintain the organization of your digital life and will save you from having to do a massive de-clutter again :) I hope this gave you some ideas on how to organize your digital life. I have included some videos below that helped me a lot during my own reorganization so feel free to check them out for more inspiration as well :). 

Caitlin’s Corner:


Matt D’Avella:

Thomas Frank: