Digital clutter is still clutter, and like a physical mess, it contributes to stress and has a negative impact on our productivity. If you’re regularly feeling overwhelmed by the amount of digital clutter in your life, try out these four essential tips to start cleaning up your digital life and free up your time to spend on the ‘right’ things.
Organise your libraries
With an increasing reliance on smartphone photography, it’s not uncommon for a photo library to turn into a pile of digital clutter. Photos are taken, uploaded to social media or stored in a library and subsequently forgotten. For devices linked to an online Cloud service, this can cause a lack of storage space or cause your photo library to only partially sync with your other devices.
To combat the excess of unwanted or outdated photos, start deleting photos that serve no purpose and archive any old photos you want to keep onto a portable storage device. When you are archiving your photos, organise a folder system beforehand. Try saving your photos into folders by location/event and year so you can access them at a later date. You can also transfer your photos to Cloud storage if you want to free space on your phone but retain the ability to access your photo library from multiple devices.
You can do the same thing for your music library. Organising your music library may be time consuming at first, but it means spending less time curating a tailored playlist every time you feel like listening to a specific artist, album or genre of music. Creating playlists based on situations, mood, genre or artist will enable you to locate albums and artists without wading through your entire music library.
Invest in storage
Storing files and folders on your desktop or computer hard drive doesn’t just create digital clutter, it can slow down your computer. Many tablets and laptops also come with limited storage space, making it an ordeal to keep your files and folders within your storage limits. You’ll also avoid a big headache when it’s time to upgrade to a new laptop or desktop computer.
If prefer to have everything backed up onto a physical device, then sort and store excess files onto an external hard drive. External hard drives range in physical and storage size from a small USB stick to a portable or desktop hard drive. USB sticks are not generally recommended as a permanent solution for backing up large volumes of files, but a portable or desktop hard drive is an ideal choice as a long-term solution.
Portable or desktop hard drives offer large storage capacity and password encryption to secure your data. Most portable and desktop hard drives connect via USB, but there are some newer models that allow you to wirelessly transfer files onto your hard drive. If you are looking to invest in an external hard drive to digitally declutter your laptop or computer, visit your local IT shop to discuss storage options to suit you.
Investing in Cloud storage can be a smart decision to keep your computer clutter-free and running smoothly. The brand and amount of Cloud storage you choose will depend on the devices you own and how much storage space you need. Most Cloud storage offers a limited amount of free quota that ranges from 2 to 20 gigabytes. Many Cloud storage options are linked to your device’s operating system, and it can be worth doing the research to find out what works best for you.
Unsubscribe to unnecessary emails
Does your personal inbox climb from 0 to 200 unread emails by the end of the week? Do most of your unread emails end up in straight into your trash?
One way to digitally declutter is to treat your inbox the same way as your physical mailbox – keep it clean and clear of junk. If an email is junk mail, unsubscribe to the mailing list before you hit the delete button to make sure you don’t get the same junk mail next week or next month.
Flicking through promotional emails is also a big time and space waster. Ask yourself, do I read these emails? If your answer is no, unsubscribe to any mailing lists you don’t read and eventually you will have an inbox that is much easier to manage and holds your interest.
The same applies to subscriptions. If you are subscribed to any RSS feeds, podcasts or social media notifications that clog up your inbox or notifications panel, then unsubscribe to any that you don’t regularly check.
Detox your social media
Digital decluttering doesn’t just apply to files and folders, but social media too. Although social media is great at keeping in touch with friends and family, Studies have shown that excessive social media can foster feelings of inadequacy and disconnection with real life. If you find yourself spending too much time on social media, perhaps a social media detox is the way to go.
While you don’t need to completely eliminate social media in your life, social media detoxing can minimise the amount of time you spend on scrolling on your social media feeds and free you up to spend valuable time on hobbies to keep you productive and mentally engaged.
You can start your social media detox by decluttering your friends list. Remove any friends who you don’t like, don’t speak to or don’t add any value to your social media time, especially if their posts are toxic or unnecessarily fill up your feed.
Another way to detox is to set a limit on the time you spend on social media or the platforms you use. Creating boundaries on the time you spend on social media and the number of platforms you use will automatically change your social media habits and ensure you use your social media time wisely.
Like physical clutter, digital clutter gets in the way of productivity and concentration when you are faced with endless files, emails, feeds and notifications. And just like wading through a cluttered desk, digital clutter creates extra work for our brain when trying to locate misplaced documents or buried tasks. While the idea of digitally decluttering may seem daunting and time consuming, the long-term benefit will increase your productivity and free up your time to spend on hobbies, important tasks and real-life connections that enrich your everyday life.