The beginning of a new year always brings an energy of renewal – an energy that encourages most of us to take on new goals, adopt healthier habits and clear out their spaces. This January, after your home organization has been completed and 2019 paperwork has been properly filed, we encourage you to take a deep look at your digital environment.
Our digital spaces have become extremely cluttered through the years. We have all kinds of files stored on our computer “just in case.” Our email inboxes have thousands of unread messages. Our social media accounts have an endless stream of updates that we pause our own lives to scroll through them.
There is a high cost to all this digital mess. It complicates our lives, impairs our memory, reduces our productivity, and it causes more anxiety than you might realize. 2020 is a great time to streamline this aspect of our lives. Let’s start the year with the space to manifest our new intentions. These might take several days to weeks to complete but the mental clarity you get afterwards is worth it.
Here are some ways to declutter and simplify our digital spaces:
1. Clean out your camera roll.
Setting aside just 5 minutes a week can really keep your photos free from unnecessary photos. Tip: Your screenshots folder is a goldmine of photos you no longer need. While taking screenshots with your phone is a practical way to save info for future reference, this can quickly clutter your camera roll and take up valuable storage space.
2. Delete unused and redundant apps.
We know it's hard, but no one needs 20 photo-editing apps. Keep the ones you constantly use, and discard the rest. You can always re-download them later, should you need them in the future.
3. Edit your notification preferences.
There's nothing more stressful than being bombarded with notifications as soon as you wake up in the morning. Turn off notifications for apps you don't need to decrease distractions and improve your focus throughout the day.
4. Block texts from numbers that send you spam messages.
A lot of people receive more texts from strangers than their own friends and family. Filter and block spam texts and numbers by going to your phone settings. Good news for Android users: you can even block texts that contain specific words or phrases from coming in!
5. Unfollow and mute buttons are your best friend.
The great thing about social media is that we have the power to control the content we see on our feeds. The key here is mindful consumption, instead of mindless scrolling. If being on social media makes you tired, cranky, or stressed - it's time to hit the unfollow and mute buttons. If you can't unfriend somebody because they're your friend or relative, but their posts affect your mood negatively, the mute button is a great option.
6. Create a new account.
It might sound counterproductive, but creating a separate account for a hobby or interest that floods your main accounts can really help declutter your feed. (Ex. A shopping account where you can follow brands you love, or a home decor inspiration account)
7. ...Or delete an account.
If you’re feeling bold, we even suggest letting go of 1 or 2 social networks. You’ll be wonderfully surprised at how much mental space and time this will free up!
8. Be mindful about what you share.
Not all clutter comes from external sources - sometimes, it's an inside job. Before posting, ask yourself if what you're about to share adds value to yours or other people's lives, or if you're simply adding to the noise.
9. Clean out your desktop.
Just as it's hard to focus when your work desk is a mess, a clean computer desktop helps you focus better. Declutter your desktop by getting rid of app and file shortcuts. Segregate your files into a folder. If you're short on time, you can put them all in one "Sort" folder and segregate them later.
10. Clean out your Downloads folder.
The downloads folder is a hodgepodge of everything - PDFs of old plane tickets, random memes, and inspiration photos for your next home renovation. Go through all these files by date, delete the ones you no longer need, and sort the rest into their respective folders.
11. Implement a file naming system.
Begin implementing a file naming system to prevent the frustration that goes with being unable to find a specific document. Do you find it more helpful to organize your files by project or by year? Create a system that works for you and stick to it.
12. Empty your Trash/Recycle Bin.
Just because it's in the bin, doesn't mean it's gone.
Browser / Email
13. Unsubscribe from newsletters.
Many of us sign up for email newsletters, then feel overwhelmed with the volume we receive daily. Before we know it, we have hundreds of unread emails occupying our inbox and also our mental space. We recommend the website unroll.me to help unsubscribe from all those newsletters you never open.
14. Clean up your browser bookmarks, extensions, and plugins.
Same goes for your history, cache, and cookies. These slow down the efficiency of your browser, and therefore, slow down your productivity.
What other ways do you declutter your digital space? Know of any declutter hacks? Let us know in the comments below!