10 Ways to Reduce Digital Clutter
In February, I took my website offline for what was supposed to be a weekend of sprucing up the home page. But as you can tell by the time stamp on my previous post, an entirely different layout and some shiny new graphics, that’s not exactly what happened. Now that I’m back, I want to share something else that I’ve been working on throughout the last month: de-cluttering my digital life!
In this day and age, your digital space is just as important as your living space, if not more. Unless you’re someone who thrives in clutter (tbh – that’s quite remarkable), those 250 unread emails spread across three email accounts and documents titled “asdfhjkl” can hinder your workflow and make life a little more difficult. Whether you’re looking to organize your files or clear up space on your devices, here are a few steps to help get you started:
Note: Please don't feel obligated to tackle all or even half of these steps in one sitting (it's bad for your eyes, anyway). Take your time and spread them across a few days or weeks if you have to.
1 | Delete old files.
Do you really need that paper you wrote for a GE course from over three years ago? I didn’t think so. Set aside some time to go through all of your files and folders and delete the ones that you no longer need. This includes old assignments, duplicate photos, and other items you’ve probably forgotten about. While you’re at it, purge those unwanted files on your Google Drive and Dropbox, too.
2 | Uninstall unused programs.
I probably can’t explain the function of at least 15 percent of the programs on my laptop without looking them up. It’s almost sad. To make things worse, some of these pre-installed programs slowed down my laptop during startup and ate away at my battery life. To help your computer run more smoothly, go through all the programs and uninstall the ones you don’t use. Just make sure your computer doesn’t require that program to function properly, though!
3 | Keep your desktop organized.
What’s the point of having a nice background if you can’t even see it? On top of that, having a screen filled with icons and shortcuts makes it difficult to find what you’re looking for. Keep all of the important things where you can see them and organize the shortcuts in a way that makes sense to you.
4 | Empty the recycling bin.
So, you removed all your unwanted programs, files, and folders. Great! But your job isn’t done. To permanently delete them from your computer, you’ll need to empty your recycling bin. Not only will that clear up more space, you’ll also prevent yourself from going back and restoring anything you think you might need.
5 | Simplify your filing system.
Now that you’re left with only the essential files, it’s time to sort them out. I hate to break it to you, but “New folder” and “New folder (1)” aren’t going to cut it. Put some effort into naming your folders and organizing their content. You'll thank yourself later.
6 | Organize bookmarks and favorites.
This part took me forever… mainly because I got distracted by the pages I forgot I bookmarked. Still, there were plenty of sites that I removed from my bookmarks manager, from out-of-stock products to DIY projects that I don’t have the time for. Go through and remove bookmarked pages you’re no longer interested in. Then, organize the remaining bookmarks into folders to make them easier to find later on.
7 | Tackle that inbox.
Or inboxes. This step might take a few days. Before purging on all the trivial and junk mail, I highly recommend setting up a few labels or folders for the important emails (work, finances, personal, etc.) if you haven’t done so already. Move the emails you want to keep into those folders and proceed to delete the ones you don’t need.
8 | Unsubscribe to unnecessary mailing lists.
I’m guilty of signing up for newsletters just to get the 10 percent discounts, only to never buy anything else from those stores ever again. Sorry, not sorry. Before I knew it, though, I was drowning in promotional emails. If you no longer want updates from certain companies or bloggers, unsubscribe to their newsletters. That’ll help reduce the number of unread emails in your inbox in the future.
9 | Clean social media feeds.
While I usually don't take things personally, I find offensive materials and online quarrels to be a waste of space on my social media newsfeeds, especially if I haven’t spoken to those people in years. This step might be hard for some but trust me, tidying up your social media feeds is like a breath of fresh air. And if you can't unfriend or unfollow the person, you can try to block their content from showing up.
10 | Don’t forget about your phone!
Your phone can only hold so much before getting that dreaded “Storage Almost Full” pop-up. Thankfully, you can repeat most of the steps above with your mobile devices. Delete apps you no longer need and duplicate photos from the times you wanted to get those perfect shots. Tend to those notifications, or better yet, turn off notifications for some of the less important apps.
We try our best to keep our workspace and living space clean, so why not give our digital space the same treatment? Whether we like it or not, a good portion of our day is spent in front of a screen. The least we can all do is make our workflow, as well as general browsing and mailing, clutter-free and hassle-free.