Resolve to Reduce Clutter in 2014

Resolve to Reduce Clutter in 2014
Jenny James Lee
January 7, 2014

Article by: Alexis Antracoli, Records Management Archivist

Ever have those days where you look at your desk and wonder how it became a giant stack of papers? Do you sometimes look at the overstuffed filing cabinets in your office and think it’s time to have a clean-up day? This happens to most of us, and when we’re dealing with the papers that covers our workspaces or can no longer fit in our overstocked filing cabinets we are reminded that we have to take the time to do something about it. The New Year is a good time to tackle these kinds of projects, but oftentimes we overlook another kind of de-cluttering, the digital kind.

Have you ever tried to find something on the office shared drive or your own personal file space and been overwhelmed by the proliferation of files and folders? Do you have so many drafts of a report that you are having trouble finding which one is the most recent or relevant? The New Year is a good time to think about organizing shared drives, personal network drives, and to review what you are keeping on CDs, DVDs, and external hard drives. This is also a great time to get on top of your email and make sure you are keeping only what is truly necessary for your work. You may also want to take some time to rethink filing structures and file naming conventions to help make it easier to find what you do keep. Putting in a bit of extra work to de-clutter your digital space can help make 2014 a more productive and efficient year.

As always, you want to make sure that you delete in accordance with Drexel University’s Records Management Policy. All of the digital files you keep on shared drives, personal network space, and external media should be unofficial records. Remember, only electronic records stored in centrally managed University systems can be considered official records. All other official records should be kept in paper.

Here are five resources you can use to help you in your digital de-cluttering efforts:

  1. Drexel University Archives’ email management resources and the Libraries' Take Control of Your Inbox! workshop are great resources for managing email overload.
  2. This great PCMag article on creating better file names.
  3. If you have sensitive or confidential information you need to delete, use a tool like Heidi Eraser or Secure Delete on your Mac to make sure the files are completely deleted.
  4. Contact DocuVault if you need to have external media destroyed.
  5. Use a free directory analysis tool like WinDirStat or Disk Inventory X to see what you actually are keeping on your hard drive. This can make it easier to figure out where files, how old they are, are and what probably needs to be deleted.

As always, I am here to help you with your digital de-cluttering. If you would like a personal or departmental consultation, please drop me a line at or call me at 215-895-6472 to set up an appointment.