I think most of us can relate to having way too many online accounts, a zillion passwords, way too many apps on our phones, etc. Why does this matter? Because it distracts us and in some cases wastes time or can even become a security issue. To me, digital clutter is similar to physical clutter and can totally derail efforts to be efficient and organized. Here are some things you can do to purge digital clutter:
1. Delete accounts that you never use. Not all accounts can be closed or deleted, unfortunately, but many can. I had a few unused email accounts and I closed them all. I don't like the idea of unused email accounts just floating around out there. Closing them was really easy... all I did was google how to close X account and that was that.
2. Delete apps on your phone that you don't use. My phone was running out of space so that helped nudge me in the right direction. Now that I have a new phone, I am more mindful of what apps I have on there and I feel calmer when I use my phone because the screen isn't cluttered up and I can find the app I am looking for very quickly.
3. Go through your photos and delete duplicates, blurry ones, etc. on your computer and/or phone. It took me a few evenings of concentrated effort, but I was happy once I deleted a couple thousand photos off my computer. Now it's easier to find the photos I like. I also now delete photos off my phone more regularly than I used to so crappy ones don't make it onto my computer and I can find a photo easier when I want to show someone it.
4. Get to inbox zero. I am bad for marking emails as "unread" so I can deal with them later. I do this at work and on my personal email account as well. At work I try to make sure that I get to inbox zero at least every month, and it always feels like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I try to clear my personal email every night.
5. Also regarding email, it's good to go through and purge emails every now and then. Not everyone likes to do this, but I always feel better (especially at work) if I delete transitory records. I can then find things a lot easier.
6. Put in the effort to make a filing system that works for you, and stick with it. At work you may have limited control over this, but you can certainly create a filing system in your personal email, computer, phone, etc. that makes life a lot easier. I put all my online shopping receipts in my "receipts" folder in my email and I can't tell you just how handy this has been.
7. Stop with the duplication. Do you have favorites bookmarked across different web browsers? Do you use a few different cloud services to do different things when one would suffice? Do you write notes to yourself in five different places and then forget where you saved them? Try to consolidate the services you use if you possibly can.
8. Unsubscribe from email lists that don't bring you any benefits.
9. Unfollow accounts that you're not that interested in or make you feel bad. This could be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. I'll admit that I used to follow a few celebrities and fashion bloggers on Instagram that gave me serious lifestyle envy. Following them did not make my life better in any way, it just made me waste time on petty jealousy.
10. Identify your biggest online time sucks and deal with them accordingly. It's a different way of looking at clutter, but I think it counts. I used to spend way too much time mindlessly browsing Facebook and was not pleased with myself. So, I now consciously log out so that to get back in I have to re-type my email and password. This deters me from constantly refreshing it when I am bored. I also set myself a challenge to only check it on my phone when I get a notification.
11. Re-think your notifications. These days, we're conditioned to immediately drop what we're doing when our phone beeps. I decluttered my notifications by having only incoming calls and texts make a sound because they're often time-sensitive. Other notifications are silent and I can only see them when I am looking at my phone. I turned off notifications for some apps altogether. I also took it a step further and set the do not disturb feature on my iPhone so that I am not woken up by my phone unless it's a call from a select few people who would only call me at that time if it were very important. I also ensure that only a phone call can interrupt me when I am doing something on my phone (I used to have texts pop right up on the screen so I would go to them right away). Now, I hear the sound so I know I have a text, but I can finish what I was doing instead of being interrupted and forced to read the text right away.
When you really think about it, our digital/online lives are a huge part of our reality and it's important to think about clutter in terms of what's on our screens as well.
You can read more of my articles on decluttering here.
How do you manage your digital clutter?
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