The New Year is here, and many people are taking this opportunity to declutter, organize, and simplify their lives. While cleaning out your closets and garage may be some of the first tasks you think of tackling, there’s another project that can have a major impact on your life.
Completing a full digital declutter can help you become more productive, minimize overwhelm, and speed up your devices and machines. Here's a look at some of the benefits of decluttering your digital life and a few simple steps you can take right now.
You may not realize how much your digital clutter affects you until you take control of it. With less clutter in your way, you’ll be able to find the data and files you need quickly, so you can spend less time searching and more time working.
When you complete your digital declutter, you may feel some mental relief and find that you can focus more easily. As you organize and declutter your digital information, you'll also notice that your devices run faster, and it's easier to protect yourself from hackers.
To make sure your computer functions at its peak, it’s important to keep up with your maintenance and give it a thorough digital cleaning every once in a while. Start with these five tips.
Every app on your computer, mobile phone, and other digital devices takes up storage space and creates work for your operating system. Your computer needs to sort through files, create shortcuts, and install app updates as you work. Each app also has the potential to become a target for data-mining companies and hackers, so the fewer you have to maintain, the better off you are.
Take the time to go through all of the apps on your devices and uninstall anything you’re no longer using. If you need the app later, you can always re-install it at that time.
If you’re running Windows 10, start this process by going to “Settings” and then clicking on “System” and “Storage.” From here, you can see which folders are taking up the most space, then sort through them and delete large files you don’t need anymore. This will clear up memory and operating space.
You can also get rid of pre-installed programs and other programs you no longer use by going to “Settings,” clicking on “Apps and Features,” and then deleting any apps you no longer use.
One easy way to clean up unnecessary apps and files is to run a diagnostics and cleaning program. For example, CCleaner, available for both Windows and macOS, can clean up files, update your drivers, optimize your device’s performance, and more. Paid programs, such as System Mechanic for Windows and CleanMyMac X for macOS, can also help you quickly navigate the cleanup process.
If you’re not tech-savvy or don't have the time, you could skip this step and hire a digital decluttering expert to help you clean up your computer’s files.
We spend a lot of time using web browsers; without regular maintenance, they can quickly turn into a cluttered mess. The following steps will help you clean up your browser so it can function as it should.
Regularly cleaning up your cache, cookies, and history can protect your privacy and remove unnecessary information. Here’s a look at the process for a few of the most popular browsers.
Bookmarks and shortcuts are great for quickly accessing the apps, files, and websites you need, but when they’re not maintained, they can eventually cause more harm than good. If you have hundreds or even thousands of bookmarks to sort through, now is the perfect time to declutter and make them more manageable.
Deleting a bunch of bookmarks can be stressful, so start the process by creating a backup of everything you've saved. This way, if you delete something you need later, you'll be able to easily access it.
Each browser has a slightly different export method:
Once you’ve exported the bookmarks, save them someplace safe. Next, delete bookmarks you don’t need using your browser’s bookmarks manager. Do this by right-clicking on a bookmark and clicking “Delete.” You can delete multiple bookmarks at once by holding down the “Ctrl” key as you left-click on them. If you need to save a lot of bookmarks and would like a more organized system than what's built into your browser, you may also consider using a third-party bookmark management tool.
If you’re like many people, you may have tons of documents and shortcuts saved on your computer’s desktop. When there's too much to sort through and no organized system, this can quickly turn chaotic.
Start cleaning up your desktop by moving all loose documents into your “My Documents” folder and filing them into a system of subfolders. Then, create shortcuts on your desktop leading only to the folders and files you frequently use. Once a week or once a month, review your desktop, file any loose documents, and delete any shortcuts you don’t need.
Cloud storage is an easy and convenient way to back up your digital files. Still, just like your physical computer, it can quickly become overwhelming if you don’t take the time to organize and maintain your cloud storage.
Creating a folder system can help you keep your files organized. As you’re arranging your documents, take the time to purge items you don’t need. Adding a folder titled “Old” or “Archive” can also allow you to temporarily store files before deleting them. If you don’t need them after a specified period of time, you can feel more confident about purging them.
Your email inbox is another digital space that can quickly become overwhelming. One easy and satisfying step you can take is to start unsubscribing from any email subscriptions that are no longer interesting or valuable. You can either do this manually as messages come in or use a tool that helps you bulk unsubscribe. Some popular examples include Unroll.me, LeaveMeAlone.app, and SaneBox.com.
Next, complete the following steps to simplify and declutter your email inbox.
Gmail users can take advantage of the system’s “Priority Inbox,” which creates a separate space for emails that are considered important. This allows you to focus on the items that need your immediate attention without getting distracted by sales, newsletters, and other messages that are better left for a later time.
Many email systems allow you to set up filters for incoming emails. This option allows you to have certain emails skip your inbox altogether and automatically go to a designated folder. Then, you can sort through each folder when the time is right. Not only will this keep you organized, but it can also limit inbox distractions.
It’s common to use your inbox to store emails that need follow-up. However, instead of letting these messages clog up your inbox, try scheduling follow-up actions on your calendar or using a task management tool to organize your to-do list. Some options, such as Trello, have integrations that allow you to move email messages from your inbox to a task list with a click of a button.
Planning and executing a digital declutter can be overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time. If it feels like too much for you, consider using a professional decluttering service. An expert can help guide you through the initial purge and work with you to set up a system you can easily maintain. Take a look at some of the highly skilled experts on Fiverr right now!