How Much Money Is Hiding On Your Hard Drive?

If you're like most people, your computer is probably a disorganized mess of digital files.

It's time to take stock of everything you purchased, downloaded or saved to your hard drive last year.

You might just be shocked to discover how much money is hiding in your files! ;-)

You may also be losing valuable time (and money!) if you feel overwhelmed every time you sit down to your computer. With multiple tabs & browsers open, files all over the place, and no real starting point or direction - just how productive are you?

Ideally, while you're reviewing your current file structure and going through your hard drive, you'll set up a system to avoid this "digital mess" in the future. Everything should have it's place!

I'll share how I organize my own files (and would love to hear how you do as well), and I'll explain the money hiding on your hard drive - so you can find it...

Rules & Systems For Organization

I have a rule of thumb about purchasing & downloading products: "Only buy what you need right now, to achieve the one thing you're working on right now. Period."

When I do purchase a guide or some other type of product, or even download something free, I make it a point to read it immediately - and implement as I study.

Most of us learn best hands-on, applying what we learn as we go.

It's totally pointless to read a how-to guide, and NOT implement what you're learning. That makes your purchase an expense… instead of an investment.

My rule is to get an ROI (Return on Investment) as quickly as possible! Even if it's a free guide I'm reading, I fully intend to get a return on the time invested.

That said, we're all guilty of buying things that end up collecting dust on our hard drive, that we either set aside for later - or get distracted and forget about altogether.

I'm sure you can relate... ;-)

It's Time To Do Some Digital Organizing!

You likely have a good number of reports, courses, products, etc that you have downloaded over the past year or so. I'm very "out of sight out of mind" myself, so I like to keep my priority work files in a very visible place.

I have a folder on my desktop for "Work" and inside that folder I have a folder for each niche or project I am working on. I also have a folder labeled "Study" for tutorials & guides. Inside each folder are more folders - by topic or file type.

Once you have a structure set up, you can place your files & downloads in the appropriate folders and keep things neatly organized from that point forward.

You also need a solid, secure Online Data Backup Service which regularly backs up your files and your file structure. Open that link in a new window to find out why. ;-)

Notes, Ideas & "Stacks"

I've been in business 16 years as of next month, and up until last year I was "hooked on paper." Yes, even with a computer in front of me all those years! Notebooks, legal pads, post-it notes, scraps of paper I wrote ideas on - you name it.

These ultimately became "stacks" on my desk and all around my home office. I'm sure if I do some digging I could find notes dating all the way back to 1997. LOL.

Ridiculous! :P

Then... in stepped Evernote. It's free, cross-compatible, and will sync across every device or computer you use. Perfect! I gathered all of my (current) notes and papers and put them all into Evernote - into neatly organized Notebooks, labeled by topic/project. If you haven't done this yet, I HIGHLY recommend it. It has improved my productivity and efficiency dramatically!

I also have a file in Evernote labeled "links" where I put links to every tab or page I don't need to complete the ONE thing I am working on at the moment. This minimizes the number of tabs and windows open on my computer, which greatly improves focus and minimizes that dreaded feeling of overwhelm.

Now my desk space is clear, my computer desktop is neat, and my browser is only showing me what I need to work on at any given time. Nice. :D

The Money Hiding On Your Hard Drive...

If you get organized and start running a more "minimalist" system, you'll experience increased productivity and start earning more money when you sit down to your computer to work. That's a straight up fact. It's working for me!

But in addition to that, you likely have tons of money-makers hiding on your hard drive. Once you start organizing all of those files, take note of everything you have. You likely have reports, guides, products, notes & ideas, PLR content, etc.

Prioritize those files according to what's most important to YOUR online business right now, and dig in. Choose a guide you downloaded and neglected... and READ it.

Be sure to implement what you learn every step of the way. That way you're getting the quickest possible return for the time invested.

For example, maybe you downloaded List Building For Bloggers last year, but did you read it? And if you did, did you implement all of the great advice Phil shared?

If you didn't, it was a wasted expense. If you did, then you should be seeing a very nice return already. ;-) Fortunately, you can turn any of your past "expenses" into very nice investments... just by applying what you learn.

One of the things I discovered while doing my own "digital organizing" is that I still had a lot of PLR Content on my hard drive that I purchased and hadn't used yet...

(Shame!)

PLR stands for Private Label Rights, and it's something I use quite a bit - along with other content creation resources. It's a bit controversial. There's a great discussion about it here on my blog in a post titled Should You Avoid PLR? If you haven't read that yet, check it out. I share live examples of how & where I use PLR Content, and tips for making the most of it.

If you have a lot of PLR on your hard drive like I do, I highly recommend Peggy Baron's guide on How to Re-Write PLR Content so that it's both Google and Kindle friendly. It even comes with a handy tip sheet for quick re-writes, and a bonus guide on creating opt-in incentives using PLR you've downloaded. Good stuff!

I'm using her guide myself to motivate me to make the most of my PLR investment (so it's not just an "expense" and collecting virtual dust). Working with an outline - implementing as I read - is much easier than thumbing through it all on my own!

NOW Is The Time

This is a great time to do some digital organizing and really make the most out of all the brilliant ideas you jotted down - and all of the products, tutorials and guides you downloaded over the last year.

Set aside some time and make it a point to turn all those ideas, downloads & expenses... into profitable investments. ;-)

Best,

p.s. I'd love to hear how you organize your files, or any "rules" you have in place to make the most of your downloads. Leave a comment below- let the discussion begin!

About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 17 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...more»

Discussion

  1. A very timely post... My computer was exactly the same, a complete mess! I have finally got organised for 2013 and beyond - using the same kind of file structure as you describe. I love your blog by the way and it has motivated me to start growing my IM blogs, so keep up the great work!
    John Gibb recently posted..Million Dollar Business Blogging – Create Blog LeverageMy Profile

  2. This computer I'm using now is nothing but a mess, I'm afraid I must confess. I've got to get down to organizing things or I'm definitely going to go loony! And you know I have a ton of PLR just sitting, being ignored. Oh good gravy, it's awful! I'm going to try to implement your simple system and see if I can get this poor machine cleaned up!
    Lisa Roberson recently posted..Lost My TallBoy Again…My Profile

  3. Oooh-weeee! You are on a hot topic for me Lynn :)

    Some of the PLR languishing on hard drives around the world are 'going bad' as we speak. The info contained inside is going 'out of date' because they're talking about things like software and social media strategies that change at the speed of light.

    It's so important to evaluate your PLR and create a plan to USE it.

  4. Evernote is such a help. I use it for everything (and am still just scratching the surface).
    Thanks for this post, like everyone else I am guilty of having a hard drive full so I better get busy organizing and using.
    Jim recently posted..Tai Chi For BalanceMy Profile

  5. Well written article Lynn . Really liked the way you have divided to be more organized at work and I am going to apply the same in my life too. Keep up the good work

  6. How about all the stuff lost due to crashes, Trojans or what have you. Sure a lot of it can be re downloaded. But still getting and using Evernote would be a big plus, as would backing up Evernote.
    Robert Nelson recently posted..Exercise, Is It Benefical?My Profile

  7. So where do you start if you KNOW that this is the case for you?
    Alyssa recently posted..What You Need to Create a WebsiteMy Profile

    • The best thing to do is to set up folders/directories like I described, organize what you already have, and then you have a place - and a system - for everything new you add or download. :D

  8. "Only buy what you need right now, to achieve the one thing you're working on right now. Period."

    It quite easy for us to justify purchases that don't bring us any closer to our goals. That's why I love that point you made there. I have taken a serious step at keeping things "tight". I have developed a simple plan of action. Everything else has to wait until that plan has been executed to the end -- Yes, NO purchases that are NOT geared towards ensuring the fulfillment of that simple plan.
    Chimezirim Odimba recently posted..How To Make $10k Every 90 Days — Smart Hard Work RequiredMy Profile

  9. OMG! I so needed to read this today. I'm sure there's plenty of money hidden on my hard drive. I keep saying I'm going to do better and I let it get cluttered again. Thanks for this post. I am going to look into evernote this week. I've heard a lot of people raving about it.
    DeAnna Troupe recently posted..What do you do when things seem to implode on youMy Profile

  10. Hi Lynn,

    I'm always on a quest for organizing! Thanks so much for the reminder. I do have Evernote downloaded. However, I need to start using it. lol

    I have a lot of PLR on CD's.

  11. How timely your post is. I have been thinking about how to reorganize my computer.

    I am one of those dust collecting plr hoarders. I have always organized my plr by the name of whomever I got it from. But when I go to find something for a project, I rarely can remember who I got the stuff from. So I need to find a way to organize my plr as to what the plr pertains too.

    I also need to do as Kelly says and just plain delete a bunch of stuff. :( I find it hard to delete things, because I always think someday I might need it. That day hasn't come yet. :)

    ~Mona
    Romona Burns recently posted..A Manual Install of WordPressMy Profile

  12. My Hard disk crashed twice during my college days, I can reload the other files but I lost my photos, I keep a back up off all important documents, I just store it in a disc. You have provided some good tips, thanks for sharing.

  13. Same confessions :( My hard drive is just so full that sometimes it becomes difficult for me to find my files in there. Its just that I am too last to organize this stuff, but off course after reading this well written post I am going to trash unwanted files out and organize it.
    Abhishek Bhan recently posted..So What’s Stopping You?My Profile

  14. Interesting post, and though I'm not sure I can say it's hidden money, I can say there's hidden value. A couple of weeks ago I realized I had written some things years ago that weren't anywhere online. I used some of that to boost up the content on one of my website, and my Adsense clicks jumped to the point where that income has increased by 40% already; freaky! And I have lots more; I tend to write a lot. :-)

  15. Yep that is the plan this year for sure! :)

    Thanks again for a wonderful post

  16. Nice post Lynn. What i do is i find evergreen content and club them together and just delete those old low quality content that created during the early days of IM and blogging.

    These selective evergreen content will be included in my current and future projects...

    Thanks
    Jay Venka
    Jay Venka recently posted..Facebook Increases Preview Image Size and Link Description Text: January 2013 Facebook updateMy Profile

  17. John Keyser says:

    Wow, now I know the source of that feeling of being lost in a sea of information! I've definitely been "overwhelmed" with all of the open tabs and downloads. The info I need is there, but I haven't been able to focus with so much in my face.
    I've recently discovered Ever note, and plan to use some of your suggestions there.

    Thanks so much for this timely post!
    John

  18. I counted all of the icons on my Mac having over 50 after clearing out 2011. It is time to come up with a system now or don't cry when I lose them.

  19. I started early on creating new folders for items I downloaded and then listing them in a binder. This way I know what I have and where they are. It has really helped to keep me organized!

  20. Lynne

    Great post.

    The one big area where I find it hard to control information is bookmarking tabs.

    You mention using Endnote. Can you elaborate on this please?

    Cheers

    Rosemary

  21. Bruno Babic says:

    Awesome post, Lynn. I like the way you keep things organized. I am especially glad that you've pointed out the importance of implementing anything immediately after we either purchased it or got it for free because most of us make the common mistake of buying stuff and then never use it in order to benefit from it.

    Thank you.
    Bruno Babic

  22. We all need to be reminded of this. Thank you, Lynn, for doing so.

    I'd like to add something about how I keep my files organized.

    I use a Windows-based computer. (I switched from a Mac in the early 1990s).

    Every once in awhile, it becomes necessary to reinstall the operating system. And if you've ever done that before, you'll know that it can be a royal pain. That's because Microsoft as in-conveniently scattered the files you want to save all over the place.

    So, I've figured out a way to defeat them.

    I have one folder. And in it I put everything else. Think of it as having one book in your house. The table of contents consists of the chapters - in this case, the broad categories of files that I have. In each of these large categories, are small ones. (If you nest your folders, then you'll know what I'm talking about.)

    When I need to back up my files, I simply grab that one file and put it onto my external drive. And then I'm free to reinstall Windows.

    So, make one folder for your stuff, and stop use the documents, videos, libraries, and everything else that Microsoft puts your files into.

    If you put it all in one place, then you'll know where to look for it.

  23. One thing I can never nderstand is how or why people get PLR and then don't use it. To me it would make sense to not buy the stuff until you had a use for it, then to get what you need and USE it . Of course, I only write it.....

  24. Great Article.
    When I switched to Mac I messed up all my file structure and didn't even know how to make folders :-)
    The system I used on my Windows machine and am going to do again is to organize downloads and notes by Person or Guru.
    So I have a file named Lynn Terry, Frank Kern, Jeff Walker etc. I remember what I learned from each person or bought so it is easy to retrieve.

    Important: Having a bunch of stuff on your desktop slows down your computer be it Mac or Windows. simple solution I have used is I created a folder called 1 VIP desktop files. Then whenever my desktop got full of not so important recent downloads, I drag it all to a that 1 vip desktop folder. the 1 puts the file at the top for Windows at least.

    I like your idea Lynn. I may try this new methodology of organization.

    Still getting used to Mac after 3 years :-)

    btw: comment luv seems to be broken. second blog this week I've seen the error message on.

  25. Salar Gilani says:

    A timely read, as i am starting to setup my website and learning the in's and out's of online marketing. Organizing basic platform (PC / Laptop) is core to focus.
    Thanks Lynn.

    Cheers

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