Contributed by Courtney Hime, ITAP Communicatin Consultant
In the weeks leading up to the end of the semester, midterms, papers, projects and deadlines can all stand in the way of a well-deserved rest. In the process of sifting through notes and research material, you are likely using your computer – and often for great lengths of time. If you find yourself glued to your laptop, you may be increasing your chances of suffering from information overload, which can cause stress, confusion and mental exhaustion.
Fortunately, there are some quick ways to prevent information overload and simplify your life.
First, learn to plan ahead and prioritize. To truly break away from your computer, a personal agenda or planner can help keep your life in order. If you do find that you prefer to keep everything digitally organized, online planners can also be very helpful. If you’re not already using your GroupWise Calendar to keep yourself organized, I suggest picking it up. Not only is it helpful for planning, but most faculty and staff use it to keep track of their days – making finding a time to meet as simple as opening up their calendar.
Second, do your best to eliminate distractions. The easiest way to stay focused on the task at hand is to disconnect from the Internet. If, however, you require the Internet for your work, all is not lost. For Firefox users, if you keep distracting tabs in your internet browser, delete them to avoid the temptation to surf the net.
Another easy way to free your mind and your computer of clutter is to organize your files. Back up any files you need to save but do not need to use, onto an external hard drive or jump disk. Do your best to minimize the number of files you view on a daily basis by storing them in folders organized by year, course or project. When naming files, use meaningful names or abbreviations that can easily be recognized later to avoid sifting through documents.
Purging your computer and e-mail inbox of unnecessary files is another simple way to destress. Delete and clean out any unnecessary files you may be saving on your computer, and empty your recycle bin frequently. If you find your inbox overflowing, sort through your e-mails and discard what you can. If you’re keeping attachments in your inbox, save them onto your computer. Organize your e-mail account much like your computer by creating folders and filing messages to keep track of your email by topic.
While I can’t guarantee the next few weeks will be devoid of stress, I can assure you that keeping your computer free of clutter will keep you more organized and less stressed than you would be otherwise.