Keys to Organizing Your Digital Documents

Can you imagine the number of file cabinets you would need to store the documents, photos, video clips, music, web addresses, emails, web links, and other important information that is now stored on your homeschool's computer? A room full? A couple of rooms full? An entire house full of file cabinets?

Every day we're barraged with information from the time we wake up in the morning to the time we fall asleep. Your children share this same media overload with you. In fact, depending on their ages and digital prowess, they may actually be bombarded with many more messages each day than most adults you know.

To be the best homeschool parent, most of us try to stay up on homeschooling trends by reading blogs, joining Facebook groups, participating in homeschool forums, following others on Twitter, and generally tapping into the information stream (or should I say river) that surrounds us in the digital universe. This can be overwhelming, especially when there are so many messages flooding our inbox that are totally irrelevant to our world.

The challenge is learning to manage all of this information. Like removing your home of unwanted physical clutter, learning to filter these electronic messages requires one of the most important aspects of media literacy-keeping that which is relevant, and discarding that which is not. So how do you become a human filter, managing digital media to your advantage so it doesn't add to your homeschool day's stress level? The following are a few tips that may help:

1. Learn to love delete. While this key causes fear in the hearts of the meek, the delete key is your friend when it comes to uncluttering your digital life. Saving all the emails you receive is like saving every letter delivered by the U.S. Postal Service since you moved into your house. Trying to find that important piece of mail becomes impossible. Delete anything that you don't have a good reason for keeping and that you cannot find somewhere else if you need it.

2. Redefine important. There are some things you need to keep, but important is one of those words that can be a catch-all when it comes to digital files. As you work toward less clutter, redefine important. Develop a naming scheme and create folders that have short, specific names to reflect the contents. For instance, when you temprarily need files to complete a specific project, name the folder accordingly and delete the entire folder at the end of the project.

3. Handle every email as you read it. Either put it in an appropriate folder or delete it...yes, even the funny jokes. This simple tip can keep you sane and keep your inbox much cleaner. This is easier when you think back to the last time you went back to re-read an old email.

4. Store music, photos, and video clips in the cloud. With so many options available, there's no reason you can't find a storage site to suit your needs. Many of these Internet sites cost nothing to use and help you manage these large files in a hassle-free way. Using the cloud frees up space on your laptop and is accessible by clicking one link on your computer. Your children are probably doing this already. Why not you?

5. Save links on a social bookmarking site. Save articles you want to read or research you need to access later on one of the many social bookmarking sites on the web. Most are free, and each has specific benefits such as easy sharing or topic-based searching. Through the use of relevant tags and accurate file naming, you can quickly get your hands on the information you need. Don't forget to delete older "favorite" bookmarks when they are no longer important.

Now, take the risk and begin uncluttering your digital life. Next, teach your children how to do the same. What tips do you have for uncluttering the mass amount of digital information in your life? Please share them here so we can all become more organized and media literate in our homeschools. When you're done, feel free to delete.

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Comments(3 comments)

STEVE C 02/03/2011 07:26:32

For me it is the email where I get stuck. I save so many emails in my inbox that I get lost trying to find each one. On the other hand I save all my notes using bookmarking sites. I guess I need to learn to do it with all aspects of my digital world.

DONNA H 02/03/2011 10:04:15

I have folders for my e-mail. If I can\'t attend to them right away I file them for later when I do have time. I\'ve got one for coupons to print when I can hook up to my printer, one to print coupons if we\'re going out to eat, one to put educational e-mails in, etc. This has helped tremendously and it feels good to have all my e-mails read.

TAMMY F 02/03/2011 16:20:08

When shoveling out my inbox the first thing I do is click on the \"from\" heading to alphabetize the whole inbox. It\'s easier on the eyes to sort through. Then I can delete whole pages if neccessary. (totally neccessary if you get notices from fb or other sites that you don\'t always have to click on).

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