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26 – How to have a digital declutter

Every now and again you’ll probably find yourself declaring that you need a major declutter in your home or at least the need for some sort of “spring clean” as some might say. Without knowing we are all little guilty of allow bits and pieces to gather in our homes without even realising until it’s too late that they are causing clutter and stress. This can all too often be the same for our digital spaces too. If you work online a lot, perhaps using emails or dealing with lots of different documents or images etc, these can quickly add up and create digital clutter.

But just like how it feels good when we declutter our home space and we feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when everything looks good again, the same can be implied to your online space too. The reality is whether its in our homes or in our digital lives, clutter causes unnecessary stress and reduces are productivity, so here are some help tips on why and how to have a digital declutter.

What is a digital declutter?

Ultimately a digital declutter means auditing and clearing out all of your digital devices such as phones, laptops and computers to optimise them for easy usage and navigation and therefore optimise your performance and productivity when using them. A digital declutter will often involve organising and creating folders, deleting unused or unwanted documents, images, emails and apps, and optimising your digital space for better structure and less temptations.

A digital declutter will often help your device run quicker and much more smoothly too due to the increased space freed up from deleting unwanted items.

Why should you have a digital declutter?

There are many reasons why everyone should do a digital declutter now and again but if you work from home or work from your device all the time, these can be even more important.

Not only does a digital declutter help to free up space on your device and help it run more smoothly but it can help your productivity too. Being surrounded by clutter online can have the same effect as if we were surrounded by it in person. It can leave us feeling stressed and unproductive and it makes the things you need hard to find too. Whereas having a clean, even to navigate space means we can find things easier and are less tempted to stray off what you are doing if you can avoid unnecessary distractions.

How can you declutter your digital space?

  • Back up your device: Before you do anything, back up your device! The last thing you want to do is start deleting things only to later realise you have deleted things you need. By having a back up you restore these files, programs or images very quickly or easily. There are several ways you can do this such as using the Cloud, Google Drive or Drop Box or you could use an external hard drive too. You can usually set up your device to update/back up regularly so you will always have a relatively new back up option.
  • Clear your emails and organise them into files: Emails can be one of the quickest bits of clutter to build up, yet they are probably one of the things we are most likely to leave to build up too. Throughout a day or week, you can receive a lot of spam emails and keeping on top of these and deleting any thing unnecessary or “spam” will help you stay on top of the important emails. Having dedicated folders will help your inbox stay “clear” as well as making emails easier to find just make sure you clearly name each folder when you create them so that you know exactly what is in each one. You are better off having a few more specific folders than less, more generic ones that might contain a wide range of emails. Google offers a service that can automatically file your emails into certain folders based on the sender’s name or subject line, but this will only work on certain email accounts.
  • Delete unwanted apps: We are all guilty of spotting a good app on a social media platform, advert or hearing about it from a friend. But the reality is that most of the apps we download we end up rarely, if ever, using. This is especially true for apps like games, editing apps, or something you might have downloaded for a one time use such as when on holiday or to help with a specific job or trip. Deleting these apps will not only free up space on your device but it will remove any temptation to use them too. Whilst deleting the unused apps this can also be a good time to check out the permissions your remaining apps do have and adjust accordingly. You can also manage which ones start up when you start up your laptop etc so ones that are not needed regularly can be left in the background rather than loading up each time.
  • Organise files and images into folders: It can sometimes feel like inside of our devices if infinite space where documents, images and files go to disappear and die. One minute you are saving them, next they are missing and no matter how hard you search, they are never found. This is one of the main reasons why organising everything into files and folders is so important and can really declutter your whole computer. Have dedicated folders for all of your needs and the same thing can be said for images too. Think of the folders like an album, having them filed into events or dates and clearly labelled as so will help you access what you need quickly and easily. Whilst talking about organising files and images, when saving these folders try to only save the important things to your actual desktop. Opening your laptop to desktop full of folders, images and documents is distracting and looks messy and unclear.
  • Clear unused tabs and unwanted bookmarks: It may seem like such a little thing but leaving multiple tabs open can not only slow down your computer but the extra clutter on your screen can be distracting.  You may have also created shortcuts or bookmarked pages that were important or useful at the time but are now no longer needed or relevant, these can all be deleted too. They clog up your desktop and are completely irrelevant once you no longer need them. Plus, this will free up space for new shortcuts and bookmarks making them easier to find when you need them.

Keep on top of things

Once you have had a digital declutter things should feel much easier and smoother to use and navigate and ideally you will want to keep it this way. Staying on top of the clutter means that you can make the task a weekly/monthly task that will take a lot less time than doing it once a year for instance.

Simple things like sorting pictures into the existing folders you will have created, sorting emails once you have read them into relevant folders and unsubscribing from unwanted email newsletters, so they don’t clog your inbox. These are all simple tasks that can be completed as and when you need to and will ensure you don’t become overwhelmed with clutter again.

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