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Another year, another set of promises - right?

Well, you’re not the only one.

According to research by YouGov, around a fifth of Britons planned on making New Year’s Resolutions in 2021. That’s a lot of good intentions.

But if the stats from previous years tell us anything, it’s that sticking to these slippery promises is no easy feat. Only 7% of survey participants stuck to all their promises in 2019, while 19% kept some but not all of their resolutions. However, 8% of participants failed to keep any resolutions at all, says Discover Happy Habits.
Maybe the problem is we’re dreaming too big.

So forget “getting gains” at the gym and ditch the dating apps, there’s one resolution that’s much easier to achieve: a cleanse of your digital assets.

So here are five easy ways to give your desktop a digital detox this year.

#1. See what you’re dealing with

When you’re faced with a hundred icons staring back at you from your desktop, it’s hard to see the wood for the trees.

Well, it might sound obvious but it’s a good idea to start by changing the view. This can transform what was once a graphical gauntlet into something much more digestible. Essentially, a list view shows you exactly what you’re dealing with before starting the digital declutter.

So if you’re using Windows, just press Ctrl+Shift+0+8 keys. And to revert, right-click on the desktop and select Medium icons view.

And for Mac users, click the Finder icon in the Dock to open a Finder window. Then select the folder you want to change and click a View button: Icon, List, Column or Gallery. Choose View > Show View Options and then set the options you want.

Then it’s time to get tidying. And, usually, there’s one main offender…

#2. Merge and manage your MarTech

In our research ‘The Great Suppression’, we reported 86% of marketers reviewed their MarTech stack once a year.

But a good spring clean once a year isn’t so bad, right?

Well, with MarTech moving at such a swift pace - there are 8,000+ solutions at the time of writing - it might be a good idea to review these a little more regularly.

We know how it goes: a stakeholder pushes to implement that “best new tool” but before you know it, you’ve got a backlog of apps that are all vying to do similar jobs.

So, see what works together and then scrap the rest.

#3. Stack with Macs and fence your Windows

Apple’s OS comes complete with a handy desktop tidier called Stacks. This feature “cleans” desktops by creating virtual piles of pics, documents, videos and other file types.

So, to enable Stacks just press Ctrl+click on the desktop to bring up the Finder menu and select Use Stacks. If you want to collate your icons by something else instead of file type, e.g. tags or last modified date, select View and Show View Options. Then select your sorting method from the drop-down menu next to Stack By. Files and folders will now automatically sort themselves into piles, starting in the top right corner of your screen. Tidy.

But Windows users shouldn’t feel left out - they’ve got some good options too; the best of which is probably Fences

The intuitive plugin lets you group shortcuts and files into buckets - similar to app shortcuts on a phone. It then hides or displays these buckets as and when they’re needed, making for a much cleaner desktop. Try a free trial of the app or, if you don’t mind losing a few of its newer features, download the older version for free. Sure, there’s fewer bells and whistles but it definitely does the job.

#4. Sort your settings

OK, this is a simple one. But because it’s so obvious, it’s easily overlooked.

Most desktop pile-ups are the result of having to download files in a hurry. However, taking a moment to find a different destination for your files can save you a ton of admin time in the long run.

In fact, you can make a couple of tweaks to your browser settings and the job’s taken care of for you.

In Google Chrome, open the program menu by clicking the three dots in the top right corner. Then choose Settings > Advanced > Downloads and click Change next to Location.

For Safari, go to Preferences > General and make your choice from the File download location menu.

And if Firefox is your thing, open the program menu by clicking the three lines at the top. Then, open Settings > General and change where you save files to under Downloads.

But sometimes you just need a bit more support. So in that instance…

#5. Give digital asset management a go

A Digital Asset Management System (DAM) like Dash can centralise all your assets - taking the burden off of desktops and drives. The good thing is, it supports all file types; images, videos, audio and docs - any size, no drama.

And instead of manually trying to name and structure your files in some kind of consistent fashion, a good DAM system can add common metadata to multiple assets at once. It will also spot and alert you of any duplicates - often a painstaking process when rifling through files on the desktop.

So why not try a free trial of Dash and see for yourself? If a tidier desktop’s your resolution this year, there’s no better way to give yourself a headstart than this.

5 (actual) scientific tips for sticking to resolutions

Believe it or not, there’s actually a science to sticking to New Year’s resolutions.

According to Katy Milkman, Professor of operations, information, and decisions at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, it’s all about ‘temptation bundling.

This is where you pair pleasurable indulgences with behaviours that provide delayed rewards. According to Milkman and as reported in The Science Times, there are five ways you can do it:

  1. Reinforce good habits - Milkman’s New Year’s resolution was to stay off of her phone at dinner time. And what happened if she responded to the buzz of a notification? Well, her husband would donate to a charity she hates. Savage.

  2. Follow this framework - try a goal-setting plan like WOOP; this stands for Wish, Outcome, Obstacles and Plan. Imagine the positive outcomes that could emerge from achieving your goals and then identify the obstacles in your way - that way you can make a solid plan.

  3. Reframe the narrative - as reported by CNN, a study published in the open-access journal PLOS One revealed that framing your resolution positively could increase the likelihood of success. It showed that resolvers with "approach" goals were 12% more likely to succeed than those with goals centred around avoiding something. So try "I want to organise my desktop" instead of "I want to stop being disorganised" - easy.

  4. Start small - don’t try and change everything at once - it’s too intimidating. That’s why starting small with something like your desktop is achievable and can lead to habits that’ll actually stick.

  5. Piggybacking - this is where you stack an activity you’d like to start after a routine habit. British scientists tested this approach in a study to see if they could get more people to floss. One group was told to floss before brushing and the other afterwards. Eight months later, those who trained to floss after brushing had a stronger habit than the other group. So if you’ve tasked yourself with tidying your desktop, why not bolt it on the back of your weekly email cleanse? Simple.

Just don’t beat yourself up if it all goes pear-shaped. There’s always next year, eh?

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