There’s no denying that computer technology has become central to virtually every area of our existence. As a result, eliminating the clutter and organizing the desktop of your home or laptop computer is one of the most important things you can do to manage your family, and business if you work-at-home, life seamlessly. It is also simpler than you might imagine to establish a truly functional workspace. A place where you can work smarter and more creatively with just a handful of easy and quick tips that apply whether you operate with Windows or Mac OS.

Just imagine trying to prepare dinner for the kids with all the ingredients and utensils you need in disarray. A cluttered home office and particularly, a messy desktop, really is no different. For sure, if your PC screen is disorganized, your computer is going to run much more slowly because that’s what an overloaded screen of icons that looks like a checkered tablecloth will do. On top of that, study after study, including one by Inc. Magazine, proves that visual clutter tends to increase stress levels, leading to lower productivity and creativity.

Gretchen Rubin, author of the best seller The Happiness Project, backs those scientific studies up. “It’s a secret of adulthood,” Rubin says. “For most people outer order contributes to inner calm.”

Acknowledging that first step – the need for more harmony in every area of our personal and professional lives – is the hard part. Once we’ve done that, though, leveraging high tech and basic organizational skills easily makes that balance a reality.

Tips to setting up and managing a well-organized desktop include:

Limiting the number of main folders visible on screen

Make an effort to keep the amount of main folders to as few as you can manage, ideally no more than a dozen altogether. Then, create sub folders for each of these main folders that are logical and easy to access based on the way you work.

Remembering folder organization is based on individual preferences

Don’t forget that we’re all individuals both in the tasks we need to do and in our personalities. So these folders should be organized in a way that is unique to your particular business and work style. Also, remember that the way you work will evolve over time, so you’ll need to adapt your folder organization to those changes.

Setting up a single household folder on the desktop

Definitely consider this if you and/or other family members share your work computer. Then, within that main folder, set up a different sub folder for each member of the family that uses the desktop including kids. Each user can then decide on their sub folders and organize them any way they want. Whether or not other family members need access to your computer, don’t forget to create a main personal folder for yourself. This is your filing cabinet for all sub folders related to household tasks you personally manage, such as kids’ school records, home budget, house repairs, your personal calendar, etc.

Keeping your most frequently used programs in the on screen dock

By storing these on your screen you’ll always have immediate access to applications you use most as soon as your computer powers up. Store less-used apps in the applications folder on your hard drive so you’ll be able to find them when needed.

Editing applications stored on your desktop and hard drive

Periodically take time to review and delete unused applications. Also remove redundant programs. For example, you really only need the latest version of Microsoft Office loaded on your computer. Likewise, evaluate whether it makes sense to keep multiple software products installed that accomplish the same task.

With a little bit of effort to keep your desktop under control, you will immediately experience a greater sense of well-being in your work and home life.