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  • Oriana Skylar Mastro

Organizing Digital Content

It’s coming up on that time again – end of the month digital organization!


Don’t get the wrong idea. Just because our data doesn’t take up ‘space’ like your stuff doesn’t mean there are not benefits to getting things cleaned and organized. Every time you must slog through pages of unused apps, or take time to find a file, that’s time wasted. Also, I find that a lot of my good habits are fueled by electronics – my reading, running, yoga, keeping up with the news in my field, advancing my Chinese and Italian – I use stuff on my phone and computer for all of it. And if things are already set up nicely (podcasts downloaded, apple watch synced with new playlist) I’m more likely to achieve my goals.


So, what does end-of-month digital organization entail?


Pay the setup costs. Make a list of all your electronics. For me, that’s an iPad, kindle, apple watch, phone, laptop and two sets of wireless headphones. Add to your checklist to clean all these products thoroughly and charge them.


Then go through each and put together a list of the additional required tasks. So, for example, for my apple watch, I make sure all my playlists through apple music are organized and up to date – with any deleted that I no longer listen to. I then make sure those are linked with my apple watch for my morning runs.


For my phone, I make sure my contacts are up to date. This includes making notes about how I know people and exploring lists to mail chimp for my newsletter.


On my computer, this includes things like filing any out of place materials in my dropbox, catering photos and putting those in albums, submitting my work expenses through expensify, updating my website and tagging/filing websites I’ve saved on my pocket page.


Put it all together. I have a digital organization Evernote where I list which things need to be addressed weekly, monthly, and then deep dives. Deep dives happen once every 6-12 months. While monthly digital organization is about putting things in their proper place, you must create proper places to begin with. If your files, contacts, music, pictures, emails, kindle reading lists etc. aren’t already organized, then there’s nothing to maintain. My monthly list looks like this:

  • Expenses submitted through Expensify

  • Organize Apple photos (get photos from husband, add some to favorites)

  • Make notes in new apple contacts

  • Devonthink organization (next time clean out/org tags for cabinet); verify and repair databases

  • Organize music in apply music and download to apple watch

  • Check that website is up to date

  • Pocket

  • Organize apps and their content on phone

  • Kindle – sort books into correct kindle collection through amazon, and books currently reading downloaded

Produce Reminders. I create a reminder through Evernote for the last Friday of the month. I usually have to use small pockets of time all week to finish the digital organization requirements. Sometimes I’m flexible with the timing if I have a long trip or endless meeting where it would be an especially good time to do mindless digital admin.


Performance Notes. Not all attempts at the digital organization have been successful. I used to organize contacts into specific lists – by location and background of the individuals. It was extremely time-consuming and not particularly useful. There are a few categories that I do need – like knowing which contacts are media so I publicize my work – but it’s much quicker to just add ‘media’ to the notes of that contact and then I can find them searching. Ditto for some countries I travel to often where it might be useful to have a list of who is there to reengage with.


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