Digital Decluttering

March 20, 2024 by
Mark Nash

These days, our lives are tightly interconnected with the digital landscape, and it's not uncommon for that digital side to get filled with excessive amounts of data. Between emails, photos, documents, and apps, our devices store tons of information, and it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by it all. Thankfully, you are capable of decluttering and organizing your digital life, and you should. A clean and organized digital environment can help you improve your productivity and reduce stress.

Start with a digital inventory

The first step to getting organized is to figure out everything that needs to be organized. Take stock of all your devices, accounts, and digital files and compile them in a list or some method to ensure you don't forget anything.

Focus on your most-used digital spaces

You don't have to declutter everything at once. Start with whichever digital spaces you use the most, be it your email, cloud storage, social media, or anywhere you have a lot of data. The more you use a digital space, the more digital clutter can accumulate. Additionally, focus on your primary devices, like your smartphone, laptop, or tablet, as that will have the most immediate positive impact on your daily life.

Organize your files and folders

One of the best ways to declutter your digital space is to organize your files and folders. Create a systematic file organization structure using clear, intuitive folder names and categorize files logically. The use of color coding to quickly identify specific subjects can also make locating documents easier. Delete or archive any files that you don't need anymore so they don't take up digital or mental space. Also, it is always a good idea to back up your important data to a cloud service or an external drive to help protect yourself from data loss.

Clean up your email inbox

Your email inbox can be a source of stress and distraction if it's overflowing with unread or unwanted messages. There are several good steps you can take to declutter your email inbox. One of the best starting points is unsubscribing from newsletters or promotional emails you don't read or need. That step should be followed by archiving or deleting old or irrelevant emails sitting in your inbox. Once your inbox only has the items you care about, you can start organizing them using filters or labels to sort your emails by sender, subject, or priority.

Clean up your social media

Social media can be a great way to connect with others, but it can also be a source of digital clutter, especially if you have too many accounts or notifications. The first step to declutter your social media accounts is to delete any accounts you don't use or need. You can follow that up by unfollowing or muting any accounts you aren't interested in hearing from. Just like with your email, you should clear your message inboxes of spam and other unwanted messages. Additionally, you should delete or archive any posts or photos you don't want to keep up for others to see. Finally, double-check, and if needed, adjust your privacy and notification settings to suit your preferences.

Review your subscriptions

Another way to declutter your digital space is to review your active subscriptions to online services and determine the ones that you don't use or need anymore. Canceling any subscriptions you don't need anymore helps declutter both your digital life and your finances. These unneeded subscriptions frequently include items such as streaming services, membership sites, cloud services, or mobile apps.

Review and delete unused apps

Old apps can clutter your device and drain its resources. Review your apps and delete the ones you seldom use, ideally keeping only the ones you consider essential in order to optimize device performance. Old mobile apps can also pose a security risk, as they are more likely to be outdated and lack critical security updates. Update any apps that you're keeping to properly secure them.

Streamline notifications

After getting your apps in order, you can still do more to keep them from overwhelming your digital space, namely, modifying their notification settings. It can feel like you're not getting anything done because of constant interruptions from the dings of excessive notifications. By customizing notification settings for individual apps, you can allow only essential alerts and minimize distractions.

Practice regular maintenance

It is much easier to declutter your digital life when you regularly take time for cleanup instead of saving it all for one massive cleanup session. Schedule regular maintenance sessions to keep your digital life organized and clutter-free.