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The Temp Folder: How I keep my computer organized

Despite the valiant effort to clean out the recycling bin on my computer once a year, my computer usually goes unchecked and remains unorganized. I’ve developed a system known as the Temp Folder to help keep me sane and my computer organized.

Of course I had folders, but they typically were uselessly vague with titles such as “random” or a sequence of letters as the result of smashing my keyboard. I hit a point where I realized I actually have difficulties looking for files. With so many random folder titles that aren’t descriptive at all, locating files was a task in and of itself. I determined that I was actually wasting time trying to even open documents because I didn’t have a system in place. I have implemented an infrastructure for how I organize my folders, but in this post I am going to focus on one integral part of that structure: the Temp folder.

Just as I rarely emptied my recycling bin, my downloads folder was even worse. For myself, I rooted the problem of my digital organization to how I initially save things, and the downloads folder is easiest place to address first. To state simply, your downloads should always be empty. Always. I’m going to say it again—always empty.

Take a look in your downloads folder, it’s likely that you’ve accumulated a laundry pile of miscellaneous images, zipped folders, a variety of cat gifs and whatever else may be in there. You rarely open the downloads folder because immediately after downloading something you’re able to click “Show in Folder” and then carry on with your business from there. Even if your downloads folder isn’t messy I encourage you to keep reading this section to understand why you shouldn’t even use it at all. Since the downloads folder is seemingly incognito when you’re actually trying to find it, and it’s easiest to open the folder immediately following a download, the folder tends to pile up and doesn’t receive any attention or ever becomes organized. The question is, how can you stop using the downloads folder and what can be used in place of it that will actually help you to be more organized?

My answer: the Temp folder. I’ve replaced my downloads with a folder titled “000_TEMP” (referred to as the Temp folder) which sits at the top of my desktop. Problems with the downloads folder are rooted to the fact that it’s out of sight and therefore out of mind. I began the folder’s name with 000 so that it’s on top of all of the other folders on the desktop (when displayed in list format) making it easy to locate when I’m downloading something or even just rearranging files on my computer. Two more things, I added the Temp folder to my favorites which makes it even quicker to find, and I set the Temp folder to my default folder for downloads.

The Temp Folder: How I keep my computer organized

To avoid having the folder become just another pile of files I created a small rule for myself: At the end of every day the Temp folder must be empty. By checking the folder every night I’m able to determine what to keep and what to throw away. As I begin a new project I save most of my scans into the Temp folder along with initial working files so that they’re easy to access, but then whether to give them a new home at the end of the day or to keep them where they are if I’m going to continue working on that project the following day. What’s important to note is that, if I decide to keep it in the Temp folder for longer that I understand that it’s location isn’t permanent. Furthermore, I wait until the end of the day because taking the time to organize your folders during the early parts is a waste of brain power. Simple tasks are reserved for the end of the day when I don’t necessarily need to be using creative energy.

Since replacing my downloads folder with the Temp folder I no longer download images or files aimlessly, and I’m able to keep my computer organized. The Temp folder is aimed to be used as a tool—it enables you to work with greater ease and intention.