Daniel Futerman // Creative in Motion
Daniel Futerman // Creative in Motion

I work from my home office, set my own hours and do business with amazing clients worldwide. Love my job. I help businesses increase revenue & freelancers grow their business. Top rated motion graphics freelancer on Upwork.

Daniel Futerman // Creative in Motion

8 Ways to Digitally Declutter & Optimize Your Freelance Business

Daniel FutermanDaniel Futerman

Declutter & Optimize Your Freelance Business

Just like a clean physical workspace can help you focus and be more productive, so can a clean digital environment.

In this post, I’ll share 8 things I do every January to declutter and optimize my digital life.

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1. Clean desktop.

A clean desktop is the first step towards a clean digital workspace.

I don’t know about you, but by the end of the year, my desktop is a complete mess.

So the first thing I do is get rid of all the screenshots, unused shortcuts, random files, and empty folders that piled up over the course of the year.

The only things I keep are the essentials folders and shortcuts that I access on a daily or weekly basis (e.g. shortcuts to jobs in progress such as explainer videos or new products I’m working on).

2. Empty downloads folder.

If you’re anything like me, your downloads folder is packed full of items you no longer need. This doesn’t only make it a pain to find files when you need them, but it also eats up a big chunk of storage.

To stress my point – at this very moment, my downloads folder has 658 items and is taking up 8.5 GB of storage on my hard drive. And that’s even though I try to clean up my downloads folder once every couple of months.

I bet that 90% of those files are things I don’t need anymore, so now is the time to say goodbye.

3. Inbox Zero.

I aim to start the new year with zero emails in my inbox (aka; Inbox Zero). This means it’s time to reply to all snoozed emails, move emails from your inbox into archives folders or labels, and delete unneeded emails.

When it comes to maintaining an efficient and productive email environment, I do two things:

  1. Use filters and labels.
  2. Display unread emails first.

Read all about those two techniques in this post: 15 Hidden Gmail Tips & Tricks.

And when it comes to mobile email productivity, my go to app is Inbox by Gmail.

In fact, it completely replaced the Gmail app on my phone.

Inbox by Gmail revolutionized the way I interact with email on the go, and using it I’m able to reach inbox zero on a weekly basis.

4. Optimize cloud storage.

The ‘Cloud’ revolutionized the way we backup, share and store our files.

My two favorites cloud services are Dropbox and Google Drive – both which offer free plans, but like many of you – I pay for premium accounts in order to get more storage and access to pro features.

Since I pay for the storage I use in my Dropbox and Google Drive accounts, each year-end I do this:

5. Website optimization.

During the year I start writing many posts that never see the light of day.

So at the end of the year, I review all these draft posts and decide which are worth keeping and which need to go.

Then, I review the live pages on my site and do the following:

And finally, I use WP-Optimize (free plugin) to clean up my WordPress database so that it runs at maximum efficiency.

6. Unused apps.

Nowadays we use our mobile devices just as much as we use our laptops or desktop computers.

So at least once a year it’s a good idea to review the apps on your phone and delete the ones you don’t ever use.

This will not only make the apps you do use easier to find but will also speed up your phone.

Once you’re done with deleting apps, I recommend using a tool like Clean Master (Android) to clean up all the leftover files such as system cache, gallery junk and unneeded app junk (if you’re on iPhone check out this guide).

7. Fresh Start.

My computer is the most valuable tool in my business.

So something I try to do every year-end is physically clean the machine & format my entire computer (i.e. erase everything and install a fresh version of Windows). The only thing that may delay this important process is if I’m in the middle of a project.

Doing this allows me to ensure my system is in it’s most optimized state, and start the year when I know everything is working as it should.

Before I do this, I make sure to backup all my files both in the Cloud and on physical hard drives. I also make a list of all the software I have installed to make sure I don’t forget anything when I setup the new system.

Then, once all is up & running, I take my computer to the local electronics shop and physically clean the internal computer parts using an air compressor.

You’ll be amazed at how much dust piles up inside the computer during the year. It’s crazy.

And while at the shop, I also upgrade any outdated internal components.

Note #1: I use a PC (rather than Mac), which means I can open up the actual box and clean things inside. I wouldn’t do this if I had a Mac.

But since I work in the multimedia field that demands a constant increase in quality and visual requirements (i.e. moving from HD to 4K), using a PC allows me to upgrade my workstation with newer, stronger components – without replacing the entire computer.

Note #2: Since I format my computer, I don’t really need to clean up my desktop and downloads folder first. But doing so helps me make sure I’m not forgetting to backup anything important.

8. Monthly payments

$10 + $9.99 + $29 + $15…..

Recurring monthly costs adds up and can result in a significant chunk of money each month.

I mentioned paying for cloud services on a monthly basis, but that’s not the only service I pay for monthly.

My current monthly list includes things such as:

And annual subscriptions including:

The list goes on…

So at the end of each year, I make a list of all my subscriptions and evaluate which to keep and which to discontinue.

Summary

As we race through the fast pace of work and life, it’s hard to keep our digital life clean and tidy.

Things pile up, and our digital environment can get a little messy.

Plus, we may be paying for tools or services we don’t really need.

The end of the year (or the first week of the new year), is an excellent opportunity to schedule time to review, organize and optimize your digital space.

So my first call to action for your for 2017 is this:

Schedule time to declutter and optimize your digital life.

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Daniel Futerman // Creative in Motion. I work from my home office, set my own hours and do business with amazing clients worldwide. Love my job. I strive to help creatives like yourself reach the next milestone of their freelance career.

Comments 4
  • Dustin W. Stout
    Posted on

    Dustin W. Stout Dustin W. Stout

    Reply Author

    Great advice Daniel! I do the majority of these on a daily or weekly basis actually. I’m at #inboxzero every day. I clear my desktop of unnecessary files before the end of every day. I have never opened up my MacBook Pro though to clean it out–don’t want to void the warranty! lol


    • Daniel Futerman
      Posted on

      Daniel Futerman Daniel Futerman

      Reply Author

      Thanks a lot Dustin! Wow, doing these on a daily/weekly basis is impressive. I’d love to start each day with a clean desktop, but that would be quite a challenge. And yes, I wouldn’t open up a MacBook Pro either – not worth the risk + it probably doesn’t get as dusty as a heavy duty desktop computer with a bunch of fans and lot’s of room for dust to pile up 😉


  • Chris
    Posted on

    Chris Chris

    Reply Author

    Great tips Daniel. I think I’ve slipped on some of these good habits and digitally clutter free aspects in my life. I really need to get back on top of some of them (especially email!)


    • Daniel Futerman
      Posted on

      Daniel Futerman Daniel Futerman

      Reply Author

      Thanks Chris! I found myself with a downloads folder packed full of garbage, taking up 8.5GB of storage, so I guess you’re not the only one slipping on these habits 😉


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