11 simple steps to a digital declutter
Updated: Jul 8, 2021
Have you ever felt like you’ve wasted precious time because of the mess, the chaos? It’s time for a digital declutter – pick up, sort, and pack away.
I’m sure almost all of us have lost something, or not noticed when something has gone permanently missing because your car, bag, or room is in a mess; because there is simply too much around to see the must from the dust?
If you haven’t used something in over a year, maybe it’s time to pass it on? The same goes for our digital lives.
Living within a life of digital chaos we inadvertently open ourselves up to a loss, wasted time, and possibly even theft. If you’re familiar with the above, perhaps it’s time to “spring-clean”.
Here are our 11 tips to help you embrace a digital declutter:
1. Clean up your desktop
How many files do you have just sitting on your desktop? Those ones you saved there because it was easy at the time? Go ahead and file them. Whether that’s into appropriate folders on your computer, in the cloud, or in the trash, move those files somewhere else that makes sense and leave your desktop feeling clean and clutter-free.
2. Empty your inbox
There are two types of people when it comes to emails. Those who have hundreds or thousands of emails in their inbox at any given time, and those who read a new email, respond and immediately file it just to make it go away. If you’re the former, now’s the time to clean your inbox. There is no better feeling on a Friday afternoon to see an empty or relatively empty inbox ahead of the weekend.
As you’re doing this, take the time to unsubscribe from emails you don’t want or need anymore. If you find you get lots of emails from one company and you want to delete them, search for the company name within your inbox and do a bulk deletion at one time. Need a hand to unsubscribe? Check out unroll.me to make unsubscribing quick and easy.
3. Sort your bookmarks and Facebook saved posts
Having the ability to save bookmarks or posts is hugely beneficial – it means you can refer back to it, and not have to watch or read something immediately, allowing you to stay focused. The downside is that they can build up and then feel very overwhelming to sort through. So put aside some time, read the articles, take notes, watch the videos, and then get rid of the ones you don’t need! The ones you’re keeping? Again, file them in a way that makes sense to you – Facebook now has the ability to create folders in your saved posts. Google Keep is also a great platform for managing all your saved sites and posts.
4. Close the tabs
How many tabs do you have open on your Internet browser right now? Or how many windows? The answer is likely more than one. Close the ones you’re not using, read the ones you’ve kept open until you have some free time, and get those tabs down to a manageable amount that no longer feels overwhelming.
5. Back up in the cloud
Save space on your computer by using a cloud storage system like Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, or OneDrive (among others). These give you the ability to access your documents from any location with Internet access and provide you with the assurance that if anything happens to your computer, you won’t lose your files.
As a bonus, having your files in the cloud will make it heaps easier when you’re working with a Virtual Assistant or Vendor and you both need to access the same file – you’ll both always have access to the latest version.
6. Get rid of notifications
To be honest, how often do you pull out your phone the moment you get a notification? The best solution to that? Remove the notifications! You can still check your emails, Facebook, or any other apps, any time you like, you just don’t get notified when you have something new. This will help you to stay focused, and then you can take time out to check all your applications when you need a break or have completed a task. If you have notifications on your computer – do the same thing!
7. Empty your recycle bin
When was the last time you emptied your recycle bin on your computer? How many files are there currently in your recycle bin? It’s one of those functions that gets used often (delete!), but the next stage of permanent deletion from the device doesn’t often happen. So go and hit delete, and see how much space you get back!
8. Clear out your downloads folder
Similar to your recycle bin, the downloads folder is often used but rarely cleared. Go through and work out what you need and don’t need. If you’re keeping it – file it appropriately. If you’re getting rid of it – move it to the recycle bin. And then don’t forget to go back and empty your recycle bin again.
9. Minimise your device apps
Search through the apps on your phone or tablet and take a look at what you have on there. How many do you use regularly and what can go? The less you have on your phone or tablet, the less cluttered it will feel. At the very least, sort your apps into folders, so you don’t have to scroll through 10 pages of apps to find the one you’re looking for.
10. Rearrange your folders
Are you constantly searching for documents that you know you’ve filed somewhere but can’t work out where? Chances are your filing system needs an overhaul. Think about what makes sense to you and what works for you, and start again. It might be time-consuming to set up, but once it’s done you’ll feel much better for it and save a lot of time moving forward.
11. Simplify your social media
Facebook can take up far more time than it should, so remove yourself from groups you no longer care about or turn off the notifications, unlike pages that aren’t of interest, and even remove friends you’re no longer in contact with. If you saw someone walking down the street and wouldn’t say hi, chances are they shouldn’t be on your friends' list. Want to keep someone as a friend but don’t want them showing up in your newsfeed? Simply unfollow them instead. The same goes for Instagram, Twitter, and anything else you’re on. If you don’t want to see their stuff anymore, just unfollow them. Done. Now you know when you log in, you’ll be seeing more of the information you really care about.
It takes time to gain time, but overall you’ll be gaining so much more by having a streamlined and effective system that works for you. You’ll feel less cluttered and more minimalistic, allowing you freedom from the constraints of technology.
Declutter your digital life today!
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