20 WAYS TO GET RID OF DIGITAL CLUTTER
In this post I’m sharing 20 ways to get rid of digital clutter. Learn how to minimise and manage your digital space so that files, photos, pictures and emails don’t build up without you noticing! Simple tips to help you save time, reduce clutter and distraction and be more productive.
DIGITAL CLUTTER AND WHY WE NEED TO DEAL WITH IT
I think that digital clutter is so deceptive! Paper clutter builds up and we can see the physical piles on our worktops, desks and tables. We’ve either got to do something about it by actioning, filing, shredding or throwing it or leave it to build up day by day. Junk mail, letters from the school, bills to pay, appointment reminders, lists, notes, child’s drawings – to name a few things that I sort through in my own home on a regular basis!
Clutter builds up in our computers, phones and electronic devices as fast, probably faster, than the paperwork on our tables. Yet, we can’t see this digital clutter or feel it in the same way. We don’t have to move it to tidy or clean. It doesn’t get in the way like piles of actual paperwork does so we ignore it or pretend it’s not there.
However, digital clutter (like any other form of clutter) distracts, confuses and complicates our physical, emotional and psychological space slowly but surely… creeping its way in without us really noticing!
Do you recognise any of the following?! …
- How many times have you looked for a document, photo or file on your computer or phone but couldn’t find it (at least without a fair bit of searching)?
- How many times have you lost an email, forgotten to action one or just not seen it in the first place?
- What does your desktop look like? Clear, calm, encouraging productivity and efficiency or chaotic, busy and confusing?
- How many times has your phone pinged, beeped or buzzed at you when you’re trying to play with the kids, cook dinner, read a book, chat with your partner, take a nap?
- How long do you spend on social media? Is it adding value to your life or are your feeds clogged up with random stuff that doesn’t interest you?
The digital world is full of information and opportunity. It’s also a world that can threaten to invade our own personal space if we don’t learn to keep it (and those buzzes and pings) at bay.
Your own world of home, family, friends, self-care, your time and your inner peace and calm is much more important.
It’s also frustrating when you can’t find what you’re looking for and wastes your precious time and energy.
If you’re struggling to manage and maintain your cluttered inbox and a phone full of photos, here are 20 ways to get rid of digital clutter. I hope they help!
20 WAYS TO GET RID OF DIGITAL CLUTTER
#1 Digital documents – Go through all your documents and files and delete any that you no longer need. If you have a lot of files, work through them by date order starting with the oldest. Be ruthless but sensible. Sort the files you’re keeping into a filing system with clear file names and folders to make it easier to find things if you need them.
#2 Aim for a clear desktop – Keep only the bare minimum (if any) of folders, shortcuts, files and icons saved on your desktop. A clear desktop is less distracting so you’ll be more focused and productive.
#3 Choose backgrounds and interfaces carefully – Go for inspirational, motivating or calm pictures for your desktop/phone backgrounds and opt for calm and clear colour schemes that help you navigate your way around your device effectively.
#4 Don’t be afraid to unsubscribe – Cancel subscriptions to newsletters and email lists that clog up your inbox with information that’s not important to you or distracts you. Usually there’s an ‘unsubscribe’ link at the bottom of the email so you can unsubscribe completely or you can sometimes edit your email preferences so you’re still in touch but not bombarded by every email.
#5 Downloads folder – This is probably taking up a lot of storage space on your computer, especially if you haven’t thought or known to check it out every now and then! Sort by date order and then go through it and keep/delete as necessary.
#6 Images – Go through the images on your computer and phone. Delete the fuzzy, random or duplicate ones and only keep the best. Save to an online cloud drive (like Google Drive or Drop Box) so they’re not taking up space on your computer. Organise them in folders by category/type/date so you can easily sort and find them at a later stage.
#7 Clear up your social media feeds – Delete, unfollow and defriend social media accounts that aren’t adding value to your life in some way. It will make your feeds easier to scroll through without being clogged up by random posts which cause you to miss something really important to you. Unlike pages and leave groups that don’t serve your interests.
#8 Notifications – Modify notification settings to minimise distractions. Perhaps start by turning off all notifications and only then individually turn on the ones that you really want.
#9 Your emails – Delete old emails that you no longer need, action the ones that need actioning or flag them up to deal with later. Set up folders for different areas of your life that require emails (school, kids, finances, holidays, friends, family etc). Archive old emails so that you still have them if you need them.
#10 Checking your emails – Check your inbox regularly so emails don’t build up. Allocate set times of the day to deal with your inbox (maybe once or twice a day) rather than being a slave to every notification that pops up!
#11 Your contacts – Keep your contacts up to date, delete old contacts you no longer need.
#12 Apps – Delete unwanted and unused apps on your phone. Move them around so that frequently used apps are on the home screen for easy access and put lesser-used apps in folders by category.
#13 Alerts, notifications, pings, reminders – Use your digital devices to make life easier and stop you forgetting things. Be mindful that, as helpful as these things can be, they can also cause distraction and interruption. Use them wisely!
#14 Updates and maintenance – Check for software updates and install them right away. Schedule virus scans and performance checks. Back up your devices. Uninstall unwanted programs to clear space and speed up the system.
#15 Tidy and clean – Tidy up trailing wires and loose cables. Dust off the hardware. Clean your desk space, screens, keyboards and surfaces regularly.
#16 Recycle bin – Empty the recycle bin regularly, perhaps weekly?
#17 Internet/browsers – Watch the number of tabs you have open at any one time and close them all at the end of the day. Clear cache and cookies to save space and speed up browsing. Regularly update your bookmarks.
#18 Take a break from social media – How long is up to you, it could be a day or a week or a month. See how it feels and what do you learn about yourself, your routines and your habits as a result?
#19 Establish a digital maintenance schedule – Every week or month, back up your phone and pc, delete unwanted photos, save the keepers to your storage (cloud or computer) and follow some of the steps in this list. Little and often is the key to keeping that clutter away!
#20 Unused devices – Consider selling, donating or recycling old, unused phones or other devices and hardware that’s lying around and which you no longer use. Maybe they could be helpful to someone else?
A NOTE ABOUT CLUTTER
Physical clutter for me equates to mental clutter. I feel stressed out, overwhelmed, distracted or preoccupied when I’ve got too much stuff filling my home, my diary and my To Do list.
I function better, feel calmer, think more clearly and can be more present when I have more space and ‘wiggle room’.
Having less clutter gives me more capacity to enjoy the best things in my life. The things that would otherwise be squeezed in between everything else I just have to do – pay the bills, feed my family, go to work.
Hence the reason why decluttering is such a wonderful tool to simplify one’s life and create a little bit of calm and peace that’s missing from so much of our busy lives.
A NOTE ABOUT DIGITAL DISTRACTION
This post is really about getting rid of your digital clutter but I wanted to take the opportunity to briefly mention digital distraction.
Having instant 24/7 access to the world through our phones and computers is both good and bad.
Good because we can keep up with family, friends and the world in general. We can both inform and be informed at the click of a button.
The downside is that we can get easily distracted. Our precious home and personal space can be invaded at any time by pings, buzzes, texts, emails and phone calls that demand our attention right now.
We fry our brains in front of the glaring screen and forget how to entertain ourselves as we become increasingly reliant on devices to do the entertaining for us.
We can fall foul of the comparison game by wondering why our own life isn’t as Instagram-perfect as the families and faces who appear on our daily feeds…
These are just a few of the trappings of the digital world but there are many more.
If you recognise any of these as problems for yourself, here are 5 quick tips to minimise digital distraction:
- Put your phone out of sight during family time
- Limit screen time to a set amount each day
- Check emails only at certain times
- Remove social media apps from your phone
- Tell friends and family to call you if they need you urgently and reply to other messages only when you have time