My room may look clean but not my laptop. Sure, it’s not buried in heaps of clothes and laundry, but it definitely needs attention. Irrelevant data that is sitting on my desktop, pictures I don’t need, WeTransfer links that hold no importance to me are all a part of digital clutter. Not to forget my Gmail inbox! Here are 12 ways to declutter digitally and start fresh in 2017!
Why De-Clutter When It’s Going to Get Messy?
- It gives you a sense of control
- Organizing your space (and your life) has proven to increase efficiency and focus
- It’s another accomplishment of finishing 2016 with a bang and start the new year with a bang!
How Does It Usually Start?
Mostly a full desktop or low storage notification on my Gmail serve as prompts to get my shit in order. Before doing research on the topic, I opened an excel and starting creating a plan on how I was going to go about it only to realize that this was definitely not a day’s job and it’s going to last at least a month (yeah almost a month) to set things in order.
I realized it was time to clean the cobwebs from everywhere – emails, social media accounts, bank accounts, hard drives.
My Tasklist to Declutter Digitally
1. Make a list of all your email accounts: Start with listing down all your email accounts, try and remember all the email accounts you opened till date. There are accounts you forget but unfortunately, it exists in your friends’ address books. I found one like that and I decided to de-clutter it since I was planning to keep it. There are some which get deactivated on their own, and some which you might need to delete/shut down.
Once you have done this, start going through your emails. Delete all promos, subscription to e-commerce websites, class you never took and blogs you never end up reading. Also delete bills, transaction receipts and photos of your friend’s dog. Most importantly, unsubscribe from email lists. You can also use unroll.me, this automatically gets you off subscription and email lists.
2. Spend some time on social media accounts: Take a look at your Facebook Profile, along with settings for Friends: make lists of people you don’t to show your updates too. Facebook even has a page to show “friends you don’t interact with.” This gives you an idea of adding them to a list or just unfriend them altogether. I usually delete tweets if I don’t find them funny or if they’re too personal. Keep checking your Instagram feed: delete photos that don’t match your theme or are just too personal.
Re-check your security on all profiles, unfollow Pages or people you don’t benefit from. It’s also useful to delete irrelevant photos, make albums private and delete Tweets that weren’t too witty. Finally, delete all those unwanted social media accounts which just exist but are either forgotten or unused (for me it’s Snapchat and Periscope).
3. Delete selfies, mood photos, flatlays and archive family photos: You’re not the only one who takes 15 selfies and post 1 on Instagram. The point is to delete the 14 pictures you didn’t post and probably never will. Open your favorite playlist and get ticking on your Gallery: deleting the ones you don’t wanna keep. You will also find a lot of pictures from trips, moods you tried to capture, memes and GIFs you got via Whatsapp. If you have pets and/or children, chances are you have a lot more work to do. Don’t keep multiple photos and archive the ones you want to save or frame. I also believe in making folders chronologically (I got into this habit when my daughter was born).
If you want to make folders, you may want to start by getting all photos on one device. Transfer all pictures onto your personal laptop (from your phone, DSLR/ SLR, and GoPro) to one device hopefully on your personal laptop.
Sort these by dates, organize them into folders within “2016”
- Friends and Family
- Instagram (I heard of IFTTT that saves your Instagram uploads to OneDrive)
- Travel & Food
After doing the above, transfer these to iCloud/Google Drive or onto a hard drive. You can access the best of it whenever you want.
4. Re-organise Files and Folders: I usually organize my work laptop by my projects and usually have a messy desktop because all the files I want to access immediately keep going on it but not off it. And the personal laptop usually stores my pictures, write ups and my TV series which in my mind wouldn’t be too hard to organize.
If you already have folders organized, it should not take you more than 10 minutes per week to just move the stray files to the right folders. Make sure you keep a file of photo IDs, passport copy, and other useful data onto our Google Drive.
5. Clean Up Your Phone: Organise your apps by usage: the ones that you frequent the most (Instagram, Uber and Photos) should be on the home screen and the rest should be grouped into categories. Another way could be by doing this alphabetically or by color coding them based on usage. Delete the apps your friends told you about and that you never used: they take up space and data! On an iPhone, just check Settings – General Usage. For Androids, check Menu – Settings – SD card / phone storage.
6. Create Playlists on YouTube and SoundCloud-We’re still mourning the death of Winamp and haven’t been saving music ever since then. If you do, you simply backup your iTunes or keep adding to a “Songs” folder by year or sub-genre. You can also create lists of songs you listen to the most on SoundCloud (everything you like automatically becomes a playlist) and YouTube.
7. Keep a track of your Passwords– Being bloggers and living in the digital age has made this problem too real for both, me and Manavi. Too many accounts equal to too many passwords, and it has happened on many occasions that I have been locked out of important accounts because there is just too much to remember. While I currently use password protected excel to keep track of passwords (even making that is work!), I’ve heard great things about Dashlane, LastPass or 1password. Each of these password keepers enables users to store all their passwords in one location for easy access and maximum security.
8. Kill your tabs with the Tab Killer: It files them away for later without cluttering your bookmarks bar. Or condense them with OneTab. It makes a neat list that you can scroll through and delete with impunity. Prevent duplicate tabs with an extension that is, aptly, called Prevent Duplicate Tabs.
9. Add new contacts: I love collecting visiting cards, but how many of us actually look at them? If you’re not the one who keeps visiting cards, use Google Goggles or Evernote’s scanning feature to get all info straight into your phone. This is much easier and saves paper too.
10. Clean all your devices: Did you know how much bacteria can collect on your keyboard or your phone? A lot! Take off your pretty covers, laptop and tablet sleeves. Get a soft cloth to avoid scratches and dents (it usually comes with the gadgets), and get cleaning.
11. Say bye to non-functioning gadgets.Get rid of the old chargers, power banks and old AUX cables Do not mix these with the usual garbage but have a separate bin for all the e-waste.
12. Clean out your iCloud and hard drive: Take out a day and make sure you clean out your offline and online space to have gigabytes free of digital clutter.
A great tip that I read somewhere: Pledge to close all your tabs and completely shut down your computer and other devices every night. And that’s not all, here is an excel sheet that I created as a planner can be reused to reorder the digital clutter in your e-life: Decluttering your digital life.
We hope you found this post helpful! Don’t forget to share your tips and tricks to declutter digitally!