Why the 5 day rule should apply to decluttering your digital work space

Clutter is nothing more than postponed decisions.
— Barbara Hemphill, Productive Environment Insititute

If you've ever been called a paper hoarder or if you can hide behind the pile of files on your desk -- the 5 day rule was invented for you. It's a simple rule of thumb meant to create order in your workspace. If you haven't looked at or touched a piece of paper on your desk for over 5 days it either needs to be filed or trashed. Otherwise it just adds to the overwhelming invasion of piling files.

As a self proclaimed post-it note queen, I can attest to the number of times I have had to frantically sift through papers and colored notes trying to find someone's contact information or the details of a conversation I had weeks prior, which is why I adopted the 5 day rule as my own. Generally, this rule applies to your physical workspace but, given the growth of digital communication and the pressure to go green with paperless correspondence, we've overloaded our virtual desktops just as badly as we have our desks. 

For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.
— Anonymous

In order to manage your virtual desktop clutter, apply the 5 day rule at the beginning of every week by reviewing the things that have gone unnoticed or un-opened. Start by creating categorized folders for all of your files. The categories can be determined by the function of your business it applies to or the priority level. Doing this weekly is a proactive approach to managing digital clutter rather than waiting until it has become a problem that leads to slow processor performance, low memory, or our worst fear-- a systematic crash.   

Don't limit the 5-day rule to just your virtual desktop. Try it with your email or your cloud drives and find out how just a small amount of time spent managing your files can make a big difference in the organization of your work and life.