Select Page

My files, organized: before and after photos

It’s the end of March, which means it’s also the end of Project Simplify. Seriously, how did that happen? Fastest March ever, it seems.

In my household we’re busy sorting and decluttering because we’re getting ready to move. This also means we’re making some Ikea purchases and not necessarily reorganizing into “after” picture bliss.

So while my home isn’t completely decluttered (Is it ever? Not really…), it’s good enough for now. We honestly don’t have much stuff—our house is just small. I like looking around and confidently saying we value everything we have. I look forward to moving into a home that works better for us, so that we can truly enjoy those blessings.

Because of all this… I decided to declutter something different.

My computer files

Sure, I pared down some books and a few ill-fitting coats, but most of my focus this week was on the trusty ol’ laptop.

This is a screenshot of my desktop. I normally like to have it completely empty, but I’ve been working on a few design projects, and my default is to dump quick files there while I’m working. It needed decluttering.

There. That’s better.

It’s been a looooong time since I cleaned up my files. I’ve had art, notes, and writing drafts from the early stages of this blog. Really.

I decluttered my largest file, labeled SLM, oddly enough. It took all of Ocean’s Twelve.

Gone are the really old buttons, logos, and headers. I wasn’t holding on to them for sentimental reasons; I simply haven’t taken the time to go through them.

I also needed to sort through my current book project files. Notice how many chapter ones there are? Yeah…. My actual book doesn’t have four chapter ones. Nor does chapter one have a part two. Time to cull.

Sigh… much better. Now I can keep writing sanely.

I unearthed over 5 gigs of storage, and I’m still not done. Nice.

Your turn

Ten participants in this week’s Project Simplify will win a signed copy of my first book, Organized Simplicity! I’d love for you to pass it on to someone you think would enjoy it—or if you haven’t read it yet, keep it for yourself.

Head here to share your photos and to see everyone else’s!

I can’t wait to see what you’ve done this week! What hotspot did you work on?

Reading Time:

2 minutes





  1. Michelle @ Getting Through the Day

    We are going to be putting in about 40 hours of driving time while in the U.S. next month, and my goal for the road trips is to organize my computer files and pictures. It’s something I’ve been putting off, but the longer I’ve put it off, the more out of control it has gotten! I know you feel good to have accomplished that!

    I did our master bedroom this week which included a dreaded cabinet that caught a little bit of everything small including any little piece of paper, picture, 1st lost tooth, etc. that I had from our 4 kids. It feels great to have it organized!

    • Hillary

      This is the best idea! I was just lamenting over the state of my desktop (and laptop in general), but we are going on a six hour car ride on Thursday and dh likes to drive the whole time. I’m definitely going to make this my plan!

  2. Heather

    Wow! I really should be going through my computer files and organizing everything. I should also be going through my paper files…but I am now beyond the point where I can just shred the stuff I don’t need…I am about ready for a bonfire! Perhaps when it is a little less dry outside, I will see about getting a little fire going for all of my excess paper.

  3. Jocelyn

    I shared my copy of your book with a friend, but I’ve found myself wanting to look through it again. I’d love to win another copy — thanks!

  4. Susanna K.

    I like your modern take on spring cleaning. We just replaced our old computer, so it would be a good time for me to do this, too.

  5. Chase Christy

    Five things I’ve learned the hard way on this subject:

    1. Recreating your filing system as your computer usage evolves over time is necessary. If you don’t go with it, you will just have a crazy mess on your hands.

    2. Don’t go fifteen folder levels deep with files you use often. It can be a GINORMOUS pain clicking through all of those levels. A good filename can make all the difference. Use a naming convention like 10-13-2011 Fam Video

    3. Operating systems will try to organize your media files on you. When you create a new home video, slideshow, or photo, make sure you specify where it is going on the front end. There is nothing worse than having trouble finding something special to us….very frustrating.

    4. Use Evernote for notes on little projects – not “notes”, not word or pages. Evernote is a cloud-based, virtual notebook system. Best part…it’s free to get started ( Say you want to have some organization to your notes on homemade cleaners. Just set up a notebook. Then use the free iPhone and iPad apps to upload notes, voice memos, videos, pictures right to that specific notebook. All text in pictures or notes is keyword searchable ten minutes after upload.

    5. Back up everything as often as you can, and keep your back up drive in pristine condition away from your computer. I recently lost thousands of dollars of music because I was not diligent. Thank goodness they weren’t my irreplaceable pictures.

    • Bernice @ The Stressed Mom

      I love using Evernote. It helps keep my computer cleaner and my bookmarks! I need to get even better at organizing the notes I save, but I love it because I can use my droid phone, my Kindle Fire, or my laptop.

  6. Steph

    We recently moved and didn’t have internet access for a while so it was a great opportunity to organize all of our computer files. Now I need to organize the zillions of pictures on my computer. It might take another few weeks without internet access…

    • jenny

      I tackled my photos/videos a few months ago. I started with a folder for the year and then one for each month. It’s been very easy to find things and made transferring photos to an external hard drive easier for me. Good luck- it’s a huge project, but you’ll feel so much better after you’ve done it. Make sure you have a back up plan, too, for your digital files. I have an external hard drive connected to Time Machine with my iMac and I also use an external server called CrashPlan.

  7. Archer

    This is probably my most disorganized area ever! Thanks for the motivation and inspiration.

  8. Jenn @ The Purposeful Mom

    This is such inspiration for me…I’ve got files on my current laptop and tons of files saved on a jump-drive from my old college laptop. I’m pretty sure I could watch Ocean’s Eleven AND Twelve and not have it all done 😛

    I decluttered my bathroom closet this week–tons of old toiletries, beauty products, and medicines as well as a pile of towels that got donated to the Humane Society. Thank you for hosting Project Simplify, BTW. I’ve really enjoyed the motivation 🙂

  9. Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm

    I also did computer files this week! And I cleaned through the bins on our desk. Amazing how much better it feels to work in this space now.

  10. Jennie

    I did this not too long ago. I have 5 or 6 little flash drives plus one large external hard drive that had tons of duplicate files and things I hadn’t looked at in years!

    It didn’t even take that long! And now I have a bunch of empty flashes if I need them, and all the files I do need in the right place. It was nice to declutter something intangible and still get the same light feeling.

  11. Pistolette

    This is a great idea, but I’m more overwhelmed by cleaning up my computer files than any closet in the house. It’s probably because there are multiple places to put computer files and I get freaked out trying to decide where they should go.

    • Sarah B R

      If you have a PC, put all your documents in the My documents folder using subfolders if need be. I think the key is to name your doc the right way befrore saving it. After that, all you do is open the my docs and just search for any keyword to find your file… I put PDFs, word docs, etc there
      My photos and videos go in My Pictures folder then folder for the year, then the month, then occasion if that applies (2012- march- sarah’s birthday for example). I don’t rename most photos unless it’s smthing very specific happening in it. I do rename all my videos as it’s hard to figure out what it is just looking at the thumbnail.
      Last, if you think you may search a file in different places, just put the actual file in one spot and drag shortcuts to the other spots.
      Hope this helps

  12. Mackenzie

    What a great idea, to clean up your computer files! I need to do this 🙂

  13. Constance Dewhurst

    Hello, I have been reading your book, organized simplicity, and I just want you to know that it is wonderful. It has seriously motivated me. I also blog and am trying to revamp my whole blog, but I was just talking about how I was doing some weeding out and organizing in my own house and mentioned your site and book in my post. I love your site and your book.


  14. Sleeping Mom

    I’ve been working on our bookshelves this week, going through my two-year-old’s books and seeing what has been chewed up and organizing the rest!

  15. Heart and Haven

    I didn’t get as much done this week as I had hoped. Something about a 2 week old newborn, in addition to 2 preschoolers at home have taken up much of my time.

    I will be finishing up my linen closet and panty, which I previously started, hopefully today! And a trip to Goodwill for misc. items I’m letting go of is on the agenda for today as well 🙂

    I’m sad about Project Simplify ending though…it always inspires me to tackle something with organization, knowing others are organizing a similiar space. I also love seeing the before & after pics too!

  16. Lynda

    Thank you for the visual walk-through of your computer organization. It really helps to see how someone else is doing it. Now I feel more confident about labeling and combining folders on my computer. (There must be some kind of mental block for those of us not born with the organizing gene. lol)

  17. Rachel @ Common to Moms

    Wow… I have never ever ever attempted to organize or consolidate computer files. It might seem even more overwhelming than decluttering our actual house! I feel like in this age in technology we should have courses in middle school and high school to teach organization methods for computers! haha! 🙂 this is such a good idea though- how much more simple would my life be if I didn’t have to search through a bazillion files to find what I want? This is definitely inspiring!

  18. Miranda

    Off topic but the cutesy family photo ever!!!

    Happy Friday :).

    • Miranda

      And by that I mean cutest. Autocorrect!

      • Tsh

        Aw… thanks!

  19. Jamie

    Wow. I needed to find your blog. As far as decluttering my laptop — about the best I’ve done is clearing off the screensaver so I can see my cute children. I am working on the children’s rooms. How do we accumulate so much? I’ll keep checking in.

  20. Julia

    I’m working on decluttering my house room by room this spring. Started with the office, now need to finish the rest of the house.

  21. melissa

    We were having problems with my laptop, so my husband suggested I move all my desktop files to our server. I did that last night, and my laptop crashed today! Perfect timing, and I’m glad I got everything moved over in time. 🙂 I came across duplicates of files and was able to get more organized than I thought. It’s not anything that anyone else can see…but I feel better. 🙂

  22. Melinda T

    I can’t believe how fast the month went by! I’m still decluttering and my laptop is definitely get worked on too! Amazing to see how much junk I have on there! Thanks for sharing and inspiring!

  23. Sarah B R

    Hi. I did this recently because our computer crashed and i reinstalled files. I have a pretty good working system.

    Did you announce who won the neatdesk?

  24. jenny

    Although I did not participate this year in Project Simplify (just not the year for it)…I did make a commitment to myself to finish up a project I started LAST YEAR during your decluttering project. I had 4 boxes of “wedding mementos” stored in my attic – I brought them to our basement last March (2011) and there they sat for the past year. I finally went through it all and kept a few special keepsakes. Sentimental paper clutter is always my downfall, but I’m happy to report that I finally finished this!

  25. Becky

    As I sit reading your blog, I am in the midst of tackling a portion of this ginormous project. I have three externals that I have collected over time that I am transferring over to a brand new external with mega storage. Although I realize that there are duplicates and I will need to cull those files and press that scary DELETE button, it will be so nice to have them all in one central location and begin the process of reorganization. First steps, I will put things in year order and then push forward with this!! Thank you for the inspiration!!!

  26. christie

    Tsh, I obviously need your book. I want to declutter my computer files but FIRST, please tell me what system/software you are using in your screen shots. I want my files to look exactly like yours especially the preview screen. I am guessing you are using a mac. Can you or any of your readers advise me on what would be similar for a pc? thanks for your wonderful post.

  27. Denni Dattilio

    I really need to do this with all of my teaching files on my work computer. I tend to park everything on the desktop & then dump it all on the hard drive when the desktop gets too full.

  28. Wendy J

    Looks great! I need to do that. Just wanted to say thanks for this month. It has been a great kickoff to getting things simplified and in a better place.

  29. Jess

    I just decluttered my desktop at work, too! Its amazing how much easier it is to breathe when you aren’t looking at a million files sitting there. I was getting to the point I was saving it to the desktop for “easy” finding, and then I’d at least a minute searching for the icon on the desktop!

    I use SpringPad for keeping my bookmarks, notes and files organized. With the Chrome extension, I can even copy snippets (like a paragraph from your blog) and send it right into my Organizing or Keeping Simple file. Love love love it. 🙂

  30. RHome410 @ Friday is Pizza, Monday is Soup

    Oh, no… I hadn’t even thought about the computer! But I finally have my project from this week ready to share… And I’m also ready for a nap! Thanks for all this motivation.

Join thousands of readers
& get Tsh’s free weekly email called
5 Quick Things,

where she shares stuff she either created herself or loved from others. (It can be read in under a minute, pinky-swear.)

It's part of Tsh's popular newsletter called Books & Crannies, where she shares thoughts about the intersection of stories & travel, work & play, faith & questions, and more.