How I Sustain a Clean PC Desktop

By Ron Pereira Updated on April 18th, 2013

Have you ever heard the stories of how the air conditioning repair man often has air conditioning problems at home?

Or how the plumber’s wife is constantly after him to fix the leak under the sink?

Well, I can relate.

You see, if I am being honest, I must confess to having many personal weaknesses as it relates to living the lean thinking life.

Messy Computer Desktop

One of the most annoying weaknesses I have long battled is a messy computer desktop.  You see, I will go through phases were I keep my computer’s desktop neat and tidy… then, in all my daily haste, I will save files to it… pictures I have “snagged” from the Internet to it, etc.  Then, eventually, I have a mess.  A big mess!

Junk Files Killing Me!

Well, I finally decided that enough was enough.  And after doing some hansei I realized that the primary root cause to my messy desktop problem was the junk file.

You see, many times I will download files to read once or look at once.  They aren’t worth filing into a folder… so I just drop them on my desktop.  These files are essentially junk.

The “delete” folder

So, to counter this problem I created a new folder called “delete” and placed it on my desktop.  Now, when I need to save a junk file or picture I save it to the delete folder. Click the image above to see a larger view of  the delete folder in action.

Then, at the end of the week I open the delete folder and clean it out.

Now,  I thought about saving these junk files directly to the Trash folder… but decided to create a bit of a “grave yard” before completely discarding the file.

So far it’s working like a dream.  I had a few hiccups the first few days… but it’s now becoming habit and I’m confident my desktop will remain clutter free for years to come.

What about you?

What do you think of this solution?  Do you do something similar?  If not, how do you keep your computer desktop clutter free?

  1. Jamie E.

    August 27, 2010 - 8:04 am

    Belvedere, a freeware program, is my key to a clear desktop (and organized computer overall). A few tips:

    1. I have a “To File” folder on my desktop that I drag things into when I want to file them, but don’t have immediate requirements for. Then I go through the To File folder every two weeks or so. But rather than move files once from the To File folder to other folders, I create Belvedere rules so that this is done automatically (with confirmation) in the future for files of similar names.
    2. I have Belvedere automatically move files on my desktop to “To File” that I haven’t opened for 2 weeks (it confirms first so that this is not done due to vacation, etc).
    3. I also have a “Favorites” folder which is where I put frequently accessed documents. If a file in my “Favorites” folder is not accessed for 2 weeks, I move it to the Desktop which then gets the same rule as above. This keeps my favorites from being polluted too.

    Overthinking? Maybe. It seems to be working though.

  2. Roger

    August 27, 2010 - 11:42 am

    I use a freeware program called “Fences”. With it I am able to create areas for my programs that I use, network places that I frequent, a temporary area, and an area for WIP. Once something is completed I move it off my desktop. When I save something new to the desktop I sort it to an area. it is 5S for the desktop.

  3. Simon Cunnane

    August 30, 2010 - 3:12 am

    I would echo Roger with regard to “Fences”. It is simply a fantastic little program.
    While a clutter-free desktop may look pretty, like anything Lean it has to reduce waste. If you have to click through “My Computer” and 3, 4 or 5 more clicks to locate a regularly used file, surely it is more efficient to have this file on your desktop but in a defined, clearly labelled section, which Fences provides.
    I have 4 main “Fences” which contain the files/programs I access daily or at least once per week.
    Anything outside of this is shared on the company network which recently went through a fairly nifty 5s process that everyone helped to organise and have really bought into.
    But from a personal point of view, Fences is my weapon of choice.


  4. MartiB

    August 30, 2010 - 9:11 am

    I have 2 folders on my desktop that help keep my computer in order. I have a folder called “Projects”, this folder contains links to all of my current projects. The other folder is called “5S” and in that goes everything that I’m not sure I’m ready to delete or file.
    Those 2 folders along with my MiniTab icon are in the center of my desktop, Apps go in the Quick Launch toolbar, the Recycle Bin on the left. I have a similar system with my email.
    It helps me stay organized, can find things quickly and my desktop only has 4 icons on it at the end the day. (and anything that needs to stay on my desktop for use the next day.)

  5. Dan Markovitz

    August 31, 2010 - 9:58 am

    Ron, it seems like you’re batch processing with this system. Would it make more sense to simply review whatever the file is when you download it, and then delete it when you’re done? By batching the deletion, you’re condemning yourself to reviewing all the images/files a second time — which seems like the waste of overprocessing.

    What do you think?

  6. Ron Pereira

    September 2, 2010 - 8:51 am

    Thanks for all the comments, folks. Keep them coming!

    Hi Dan – Your point is very valid… I guess the reason I do this is I treat the junk folder more like a 5S graveyard. I am almost certain I’ll never need it after it’s initial use… but still would like to be careful.

    Another reason is I’ll often snag a picture and want to email it to my business partners… and at least in my email program I can’t attach images that are in the trash folder. If there is a way to do this I’m definitely open to change. 😉

  7. Jamie E.

    September 18, 2010 - 8:41 am

    Can someone share with me how they are using Fences? First time hearing of the program and am a big fan of what I see. Are you dividing your fenced areas into current work projects, reference, something else?

    Very cool find. Thanks everyone!

  8. Simon Cunnane

    September 20, 2010 - 3:23 am

    Hi Jamie,

    If you send me your e-mail address, I’ll send an image of my desktop using Fences.


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