Urgent, Important, Archived

With September approaching, I wanted to start from a clean state and declutter my digital space, which had accumulated a lot of junk since the beginning of the year.

If you are reading this blog, you certainly are spending 4+ hours a day in front of a computer and may be in the same situation that I was: 800+ files in your Downloads folder, too many folders on your Desktop, and way too many emails in your inbox.

So, I started to clean the mess, one bit after another, and quickly noticed a pattern.

There are a few discoveries that have a big impact on your life, and I think that this one is one of these, as it saved me so much mental energy.

Here is the pattern I discovered. Everything can be classified as either: Urgent, Important, or Archived.

Urgent means that it should be handled quickly. Important means that I regularly need it, or I may need it in urgency and thus should be easily accessible. Archived means that I have no immediate or planned use of it, but I should still be able to find it somewhere in the future.

With that in mind, decluttering your digital space becomes a lot easier. You no longer need to spend 10+ seconds thinking about where each file needs to go.

What I didn’t anticipate is that this system can be applied for almost anything!

Emails: There is no need to have a complex system with folders and filters. You have your inbox for urgent emails, the favorites/starred for important emails, and everything else goes to Archive.

Files: Urgent files, such as an invoice that needs to be uploaded to my accounting software, go into a folder named inbox in my Home directory. I use a tag (see the picture below) to be able to instantly find important files, such as a copy of my ID card. And Archived files, such as pictures, all go into a unique folder.

macOS tags

And it also works for stuff in the physical world!

For example, the electricity bill is urgent until paid and then archived.

My clothes are important, as I use them every day, and thus should be easy to access.

So, the next time you need to clean up your digital or physical space, think about this mental model. It may save you a lot of time instead of overthinking where each thing needs to go.

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Tags: productivity, minimalism

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