When it comes to decluttering, it doesn’t just stop at my closet…or my kitchen cabinets…or our garage (which may actually prove to be the death of me before it’s all said and done). All areas of our life need a little decluttering from time to time…yes, even our digital life, and this post will give you a glimpse in to my best tips for how to Declutter Your Digital Life! Are you ready to get started?
Declutter Your Digital Life: 6 Hardcore Tips
Let’s begin with our Computer Desktop: Not only does a full desktop slow down your computer, it can also make it difficult to find important files you have saved. As you begin the decluttering process, I would highly recommend streamlining your desktop space. File those pictures in your pictures folder. File those documents in your documents folder. Eliminate as many unnecessary icons as possible! How many icons do you have on your phone’s home screen? See if you can simplify your computer desktop in a similar way. Following through with this step will help jumpstart you in to the decluttering tasks we’re going to tackle together!
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E-mail – It has been said that there are two kinds of people in the world. Those who have 0 e-mail messages in their inbox and those who never delete a single e-mail…not ever. I wouldn’t say I’m at 0, but I definitely lean that direction. What are my best methods for keeping an organized inbox? Well, I have a few ideas:
- If at all possible, I try to avoid giving out my e-mail address. If an e-mail address is required on something, I will oftentimes provide a junk e-mail address that I have set up specifically for that purpose. I rarely check it – but it keeps lots of junk mail from coming to my primary e-mail address.
- I “unsubscribe” from pretty much anything that comes my way. When an uninteresting e-mail pops up in my inbox, I unsubscribe immediately. This may take a second to do (Locating the tiny “UNSUBSCRIBE” link at the bottom of an e-mail is usually the trickiest part!), but it keeps me from spending time in the future deleting…and deleting…and continuing to delete. Unsubscribing usually takes care of the problem on the spot and keeps me from continuing to receive e-mails that aren’t important to me.
- If your e-mail service allows you to create folders for e-mails that you need to archive, I would highly recommend doing so! You can make this look however you want, but having separate folders makes it easy for me to stay organized – especially when it comes to locating past e-mails that I need to reference! You could create a folder for each child – filing away important school communication, athletic information, etc. You could create a folder for each of the bills that you pay on a regular basis – This is especially helpful if you have gone paperless when it comes to your monthly bills. Think through what might work for you and take just a few minutes to create folders…I promise you will be glad you did! Oh yeah, and don’t forget to actually use the folders! As e-mails come in, respond and file. Respond and file as quickly as possible – This will save you lots of time down the road!
- Delete all unnecessary e-mails.
Check out this tip from Jillee at One Good Thing: Here’s a sweet trick….sweep away messages in groups!
In Gmail you can search things like from:facebookmail.com or from:groupon.com and once you’ve isolated that group of emails, you can archive, label, or delete all of those messages at once. THIS I am DEFINITELY going to do!
Photos/Videos – I have always loved taking pictures, and since the birth of our first child, you will rarely find me without a camera in hand. It is important to me that our photos stay organized, and this most definitely keeps me from getting overwhelmed. After years of not completely loving the way my photo files were organized, I came across this method, and my brain loves it! Since making the transition to this labeling system, I sleep much better at night; and it makes it much easier to attack special photo projects – like prints for framing, wall canvases, albums, etc.
One other quick thought here: Consistently upload/backup your phone pictures. Consistently file/backup/clear off your SD cards. Notice my emphasis not just on organization but also on backing up? Whether you are using a cloud service, an external storage device, etc. definitely be sure to stay on top of these little chores.
Documents – When it comes to organizing documents, I like to have main category folders with subfolders within them. For example: Homeschooling > Math > Multiplication > Multiplication Worksheet. You can add, delete, rearrange, and/or rename as needed, but carefully naming documents and filing them in well-organized folders makes it easy for me to find them when I need them! You may prefer to simply use the search feature to find the files that you need, but as a homeschooler and a blogger, this method has proven to be incredibly helpful!
Psst…when it comes to documents, photos, etc. delete anything and everything that you know for sure you don’t need! I make an effort to do this as I go along, and it feels good to declutter the files that I don’t need.
Social Media – *Specifically Facebook: We all have people on our friend list that do social media a little differently than we do. For those situations, the “hide” button and the “block” button are my favorite ways to declutter! Want a glimpse in to how I handle this? Check it out:
- If someone in my feed is repeatedly posting extremely inappropriate comments, photos, etc. I unfriend them. End of story.
- If someone is simply irritating – You know the ones….the insecure bodybuilders, the overly crunchy mamas, the selfie-obsessed college students, the lovers of drama… I hide them by simply selecting unfollow next to their name. I mean, c’mon…there is probably a reason I never stayed connected with this person in real life. I want my news feed to include things that I care about…pictures I actually want to see…updates that are important to me. If you are finding yourself frustrated with what is in your feed, take control over it. You have the power to determine what you see. *You can also click unlike/unfollow on pages that you have previously liked – pages that are no longer of interest to you – or pages you simply liked initially just to be nice.
- If someone is notorious for sending game invites, unwanted party invites, etc. I go in to my settings and block them from sending invites my way. I will also block specific game invites – just in case someone else is getting excited about playing that game, too. You may be in to the games, but that’s not something I want to spend my time doing.
- If a negative or especially controversial status is posted, I hide it…This way, I don’t have to see all of the follow-up comments…where experts are giving their opinions, arguing with one another, etc.
You can use this same approach when interacting on other social media outlets as well! Take control over your feeds. It will feel good to declutter and simplify…yes, even on your social media accounts.
Smartphone: Remember that simplified home screen I mentioned? Yes, keep it simple – Including only the apps you use everyday. I have a secondary home screen that I use for apps that I use often, but not every day, and that’s it. Psst…delete all of the apps you don’t use! I like to think of this as freeing up the space for more Instagram pictures!
When it comes to my smartphone, there are a couple of other things I do to keep my digital life as simple and clutter-free as possible:
- Most of the time, you will find my phone volume on “silent” and my social media notifications turned off. This keeps me from being distracted when I’m doing chores, homeschooling my littles, or enjoying family time with my crew.
- I do not use voicemail. You may think this is weird, but I was getting tired of checking my voicemail only to hear messages like, “Hey, it’s me. Call me when you can.” when I had already seen that I had missed a call from that individual…when they could have easily just shot me a quick text. So, I quit using voicemail, and it’s kind of nice not having to deal with checking it.
You may think it’s rude to unsubscribe from e-mails…or unfollow a friend on Facebook…or quit accepting voicemails, but listen…think through the areas of your digital life that feel cluttered to you and begin to brainstorm about ways you can take control over those spaces. These are some things that have worked for me, but as you think through how to declutter your digital life, you may find yourself considering some different ideas. The goal is to simply make progress!
Have you been inspired to try something new?
Are you looking to simplify in other areas of your life?