Digital clutter is no joke. While “clutter” might not be the word we would think to associate with our online life, it’s actually quite an accurate depiction. We let things pile up, we don’t clean house, and it begins to weigh on us and bring all kinds of unnecessary stress to our lives. I’m certainly no stranger to digital clutter, especially thanks to blogging! And I know I’m not alone here, either! Blogger or not, chances are you’ve got all kinds of digital clutter clogging up your life, and I want to help take care of that.
Clean Out Your Inbox
I had to start here because I think email clutter is the most common form of digital clutter, and it’s a serious problem for some! If you’re struggling with email clutter, you probably fall into one of two camps. If you’re in the first category, you’re probably scarily behind on reading your emails. It might be that you’re lazy about reading emails, or it might be that you just get a ton of emails and can’t keep up. If this is you, it’s time to find a system so you don’t have to see that number bubble above your email app telling you there are 250 unread emails! First of all, go through and unsubscribe from all those marketing emails you are constantly deleting without opening, or the ones for those companies who you’ve literally never purchased from, and probably never will. If you find you’re one of those people who just never care to go through their email inbox, chances are a lot of what you’re getting isn’t that important to you! Just deleting those will save a ton of time in the future! If you get too many emails to keep up with, write some canned responses to the emails you get frequently so you can just copy and paste.
The second group you might be in consists of people who read the emails but keep them all in their inbox, thinking they’ll need them at a later date. I did this for a long time (and still do sometimes), and I can tell you it gets out of hand very quickly. The first thing I did was respond to those emails I was procrastinating on responding to, or delete them if I could admit to myself I really wasn’t going to respond. Then I created a few folders for items that I really did want to keep in my email. Finally, I took the emails with actionable tasks in them and added them to my to-do list for a specific date (because having a deadline for your tasks is important).
Clean Out Your Phone
There’s nothing worse than getting that awful notification on your phone telling you that you’re officially out of space (or darn close to it!) I’ve gotten it a few times, and it’s not fun! There’s a moment of complete panic where you’re sure there’s nothing expendable on your phone, but you know you can’t take another picture until you delete something.
The good news is, I always find something (or many somethings) that I can delete from my phone, usually in the form of apps I downloaded and used maybe once. In addition to apps, you can delete photos. I guarantee there are photos on there you don’t need! If you do need them, upload them to a cloud storage so they aren’t taking up space on your phone.
Utilize Cloud Storage
Like I mentioned above, there’s no reason you need to be storing all of your photos right on your phone, and there’s no reason you need to be storing all of those files and photos on your desktop! If space is an issue for you, upload to cloud storage. I also recommend doing this with any important or sentimental files or photos that you would be really upset to lose. This way there’s always a backup!
I use cloud storage constantly. I have all of my blogging files saved on DropBox or Google Drive, that way I can access them from any computer, as well as my phone. I also utilize the free photo storage that comes with an Amazon Prime account.
Turn Off Notifications
You might not think that having notifications on your phone would create that much digital clutter, but consider how many times per day you’re interrupted from what you’re doing by a notification from your email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, text messages, etc. It’s a little absurd, right? I don’t need my weather app to send me a notification each time it starts raining – I think I can figure that out for myself!
First, decide if there are any apps you must get notifications from. If your work emails tend to be super time sensitive, go ahead and leave that one on. I recently finally turned off my email notifications! You can decide which the nonnegotiables are for you. Otherwise, I recommend turning off all notifications besides text messages and phone calls! Rarely is a Facebook message or post to your page so important that it must be addressed immediately.
Organize Your Folders
Regardless of whether you’re using cloud storage or the storage on your desktop or phone hard drive, make sure to do some organizing. Keep things in separate folders so you can separate the different parts of your life and quickly find anything you need. Depending on your job and whether or not you’re a blogger, you actually may not have many files saved on your personal computer. Most post-college friends I have basically use their personal computers for Netflix and social media, which makes this part super easy!
Delete, Delete, Delete
So this is the painful part (or the therapeutic part, depending on how positive a person you are.) I guarantee that in every single aspect of your digital life, there are things you can delete. Your email, your phone, your desktop, your cloud – they all have things you can purge! Delete your old text messages, delete your voicemails, delete social media friends if you have no idea why you were Facebook friends in the first place. You can also probably delete some of your music since it’s so easy to stream music for free these days! You have to be honest with yourself about what you need, and the just rip off the band-aid. Most of those files you probably won’t miss, because you probably haven’t touched them in ages.
Create a System
Now that we’ve put all that work into minimizing our digital clutter, it’s time to make sure it stays that way! By putting systems in place, we can make sure our digital life never gets quite that cluttered again. Some things that you can organize by creating systems for are your email inbox (and email folders), your hard drive or cloud storage, and your phone.
Is your life as full of digital clutter as mine? Let’s get to work!