If anxiety kicks in at the thought of the mess on your desktop every time you open your computer, it means it’s time to stop everything you are doing and start a digital decluttering session. Our digital lives have become more complicated than ever before, with a plethora of interesting people to follow, businesses to keep an eye on, articles to read in your spare time, music to suit any taste, and eBooks to satisfy your literary appetite.
But, just as our homes require periodic deep cleaning, so do our digital lives. Having instant access to this huge amount of information might make us feel overwhelmed by everything that comes our way.
Just like the rest of us, unorganized folks, you’ve probably got a number of accounts you don’t use anymore, saved images and document scraps all over your computer, and an inbox full of emails you never read. We don’t always feel the need to clean up digital clutter because it doesn’t take up physical space. Nonetheless, it depletes our time and concentration, making it more difficult to browse for the stuff you need, concentrate on your work, and be innovative.
Cutting down digital distractions will assist you in regaining control of your digital life, especially if you adopt some healthy practices to keep clutter at bay. Don’t know what to begin with? Below is a list of tips to get you started.
Begin with all the files and folders lying around
If you didn’t clean your computer in a while, you’re likely to have a lot of outdated files and documents to delete. These items clog up your disk and make it difficult to find the stuff you actually need, so it’s time to get rid of them. And, no, no one needs to keep these old bank statements, downloaded and finished e-books, college essays, and tens of untitled text documents you didn’t even know exist.
The greatest thing you can do is begin looking through all of your files and folders to determine what must stay and what needs to go. It’ll take some time, it’s true, but you’ll be glad you did it once it’s finished. Make sure you’re not missing any folders and delete files without remorse.
Delete all files and folders you know you don’t need anymore. If you’re not sure whether some of these may be necessary for the future, create a separate folder for them, dump everything you are unsure of there, and let time decide. At the next declutter, which should happen every three months, you can revisit them and remove everything you have not used.
You can organize invoices, bills, or receipts in a PDF file if you want to have them all in the same place and reduce clutter. There are a number of applications available, such as this one here, that simplify editing, merging, and managing PDF documents, and many of these, like our example, are free to use. To make file organization even easier, you can convert documents to PDF and vice versa.
Do a thorough sweeping of your photos and videos
Smartphones nowadays are capable of capturing some stunning photos, so it’s no surprise that we’ve become accustomed to photographing nearly anything we find fascinating. This isn’t a bad thing, but it means we’ll end up with hundreds of images scattered over your digital environments – one of the most challenging types of digital clutter to tackle. Some are on your phone, some ended up on your computer, and more are sitting in an abandoned folder somewhere on the cloud, awaiting your attention.
If you want to keep your photos but want to free up space as well, the easiest way to do so is by exporting everything onto an external drive. However, don’t make the mistake of dumping everything there without proper organizing, or else you will end up in the same place.
When it comes to folder organization, you must devise a method that works for you and stick to it. Dates, events, and other criteria can be used to name folders. To clear up space and keep things in order, delete any photos and media files you don’t need, and keep an eye out for duplicates that should be eliminated as well.
Curate your email inbox as well
This is among the most difficult phases of your decluttering experience since email inboxes can quickly fill up. If you have hundreds of unopened emails, accept the likelihood that you will almost certainly never read them. To clean your inbox and start working on an organization plan, the best thing you can do is an archive or delete those emails. Screen everything quickly and see if there is anything of importance there, then remove the ones you don’t need.
Set some time apart to go through the newsletters and promotional emails you keep getting. This is where most of the clutter comes from, so it’s time to decide who deserves to get access to your inbox. We subscribe to plenty of brands and services we only need once and then never use again, but once you are on their contact list, you are probably going to keep receiving emails. Unsubscribe from any service, platform, or brand you don’t have any connection with anymore to keep your inbox free.
To avoid this situation happening again in the future, think about whether you truly need to get emails from a brand before subscribing to their newsletter or if these emails will just build up as they have in the past.
Spend some time on password management as well
The thing with digital clutter is that it does not only take up space, but it might jeopardize your privacy as well. You expose yourself to cyberattacks and data breaches if your accounts use the same password or if you use very generic passwords such as your name, birth date, or the name of your significant other. This is why you must handle each of these accounts individually, delete those you don’t use anymore, and set a new password for the remaining ones.
It’s not enough to simply avoid logging into those accounts you have not used in a while because your data is still there. If a hacker has access to your credentials and these passwords have been used for other accounts as well, you’re still vulnerable.