Decluttering can be like a breath of fresh air saving you time, money and sanity. Digital decluttering your devices is much the same. We’ve been focusing on understanding and removing clutter in our homes and here’s one more area that needs our attention.
By Danielle, Contributing Writer
Turning on your computer, smartphone, tablet or TV should not create mental chaos due to unnecessary or unorganized stuff. Digital clutter is harder to see but no less stressful and time-consuming. Reducing digital clutter may seem like a mountain too high to climb but it can be done and it will benefit you in many ways.
Digital clutter consumes the mind and wastes valuable time when you’re on your computer or mobile device. Digital clutter is the stuff that fills your inboxes, hard drives, thumb drives and computer.
You know you have it when your digital desktop is filled with files, your inbox is a wreck and you can’t find that document you saved three weeks ago because there are just too many places to look.
8 Key Areas For Digital Decluttering
The cost of clutter, is high, but you don’t have to pay the price. There are tons of digital spaces in our lives, more than I can mention here. Let’s look at 8 areas of digital clutter and how you can declutter them.
Having a good system of folders on your main storage space is a must. No matter if you use a cloud drive, external hard drive or your computer’s hard drive you must find a way to organize your digital documents that works for you. As you can see, I use Google Drive. I have a folder on my computer where I store things and they automatically sync to the cloud drive online. I have many folders but they keep me organized so when I need something I know where to go.
I also have folders inside folders. I think of the folders above like filing cabinet drawers. They’re big and broad. Then, I narrow things down from there as you can see in my ebooks folder below. I have folders by topic. About twice a year, I go through ebooks and give away or delete those no longer needed or relevant. Like physical clutter, you need to evaluate what you have and how important and necessary it really is.
2. Files and Digital Docs
Now that you have a set of folders, you need to weed through your digital documents. Just like decluttering physically, you must begin by evaluating the digital clutter you have, one item at a time. Some documents need to be kept but the reality is you don’t need every single file you’ve ever downloaded.
3. Mail Inbox(es)
How many messages are in your inbox? It’s so easy to get inundated with unnecessary and old e-mail. Set up folders in your inbox and move messages to folders accordingly. Many popular mail programs allow you to set up rules so incoming mail is sent directly to folders or files. Depending on your life you may have folders like:
4. Facebook: Friends and Fan Pages
Sure, I want you to like my Facebook page, and I know Erin appreciates that you like hers too, but how many do you like that aren’t necessary? How much stuff is in your Twitter and Instagram feeds that you really don’t care about? Fan page and “friends” on Facebook can clutter up the connection you want to have with pages and people you really want to stay connected with. If you have to ask yourself, “Wait … Karen who?” I suggest you don’t need to be “friends” with them.
Image by: Patryk Sobczak
5. Pictures and Videos
How many pictures of Fluffy in the windowsill do you really need? One or two, sure. Twelve, that’s a bit much. Same goes for the kiddos. Yes, I said it, and I’m preaching to the choir. When our son was little we took pictures constantly. I recently went on my external hard drive and deleted at least 200 pictures of him sleeping, smiling, and sitting in his bouncy chair. I kept several really memorable ones to use for scrapbooking, but the rest are in the digital dumpster. Evaluate your picture stash and eliminate similarly and duplicates, then see tip #2 to be sure the keepers are organized.
Go click on the Bookmarks or Favorites. What shape is it in? Go on … I’ll wait. Did you bookmark something about potty training four years ago and you child is now 5 years old? (True story). If you had a physical book in your hand with 200 bookmarks and sticky notes, would it really do you any good? Bookmarks should be kept relevant and organized in folders.
7. Digital Sticky Notes
Like bookmarks, your digital sticky notes are only good if they are relevant, up to date and organized. Both Mac and Windows users can enjoy the benefits of online stickies which is a great way to reduce paper clutter, but don’t let digital stickies clutter your desktop!
8. Online Organizers
Evernote, Onenote, Apple Notes and Google Keeps are great organizational resources especially if you don’t like paper clutter. There can be a tendency to keep tabs and sheets just for safe measure when all they do is clutter up your organizer. Delete unneeded sheets and tabs on a regular basis to keep your digital organizer/notebook neat and clutter free!
There are many ways digital clutter distracts us and keeps us unproductive. The key to managing digital clutter is to befriend the delete button on your computer. Evaluate your files, folders and content on a regular basis to ensure you aren’t consumed with digital clutter. Like physical decluttering digital decluttering will impact you in great ways.