It’s time to book in a digital declutter. As much as our physical spaces need to be well maintained and clutter-free, so do our digital ones. This guide will help you to declutter your digital life so you can work more efficiently and get more done.
I’ll go through all areas of the tech world, from your phone, to how you store files. This guide is long, so click one of the areas below if you want to skip to a certain section. If not, you can start from the beginning.
Pick which areas of your digital life you want to declutter:
Areas to digitally declutter
To keep things simple, each of the following sections will have an introduction, bullet-point list of areas to declutter and a button to add each task to your Google calendar.
Digital declutter: Your phone
Our phones are perhaps one of the most well-used pieces of tech we own. This mini-computer in your pocket isn’t indestructible though, it needs to be well-maintained on the inside as well as the outside to keep it going strong.
The following tasks will vary depending on your phone type and how it stores files.
- Go through your apps. The likelihood is you have a bunch of apps on your phone taking up valuable storage space.
- Go through your files. Your phone will have its own way of storing files, but there are two things to consider. One, if your phone is lost or stolen, will you lose precious files and photos? Two, are there files in your phone taking up space and making you lose sight of the precious ones?
- Take this opportunity to go through all the file systems within your phone. Delete any unwanted items.
- For files you want to keep or store digitally, use the phone’s internal cloud storage system (usually Google Drive & Google Photos for Android or iCloud for Apple). Make sure to also go through this, your phone will likely back up your files to these cloud storage systems automatically, so there might be stuff there you don’t need.
- Optimise your battery usage. To keep your phone lasting as long as possible, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re using the least battery possible. The settings in your phone will allow you to optimise this and customise to your needs. To find and change all your settings, follow this guide by Android and this by Apple.
Add this digital declutter to your Google Calendar (please set your own date): https://calendar.google.com/calendar/phone
Digital declutter: Your computer
This may be a biggie depending on how well-used your computer is and how organised you are digitally. This section of the guide will take you through some steps to help you to organise and speed up your computer.
- Organise your files. Organising the files on your computer will probably be the biggest task of this digital declutter.
- Create a folder framework. Before you even start looking at your existing files, create a framework of folders to suit you. Your photos, important documents and anything else you store on your computer should all be placed in appropriately named folders. Create these folders before putting any files in them.
- Add your files. Now you’ve created the folders, you can add your files. Check each file as you go, can you delete any? Do you need to rename it?
- Back your files up. You’d hate to lose all your files if your computer died, so make sure to save them in a couple of different locations just in case.
- Remove unwanted apps or programs. If you’ve not done a digital declutter in a while, I can bet you have a bunch of programs you don’t use sitting on your computer. These not only take up space, but they could be running in the background without you knowing.
- Remove manually – to remove apps or programs manually, you need to make sure to uninstall and remove data properly.
- Remove with a cleaner – install a PC or Mac cleaner program to help you remove unwanted data and files and keep your computer as speedy and efficient as possible. CleanMyMac and CleanMyPC are just two examples.
- Update your computer. Now you’ve cleaned and backed up your computer, it’s time to do those updates you’ve been putting off. Updating your computer can increase performance, stability and improve the security of it too. This includes any of the software and programs you’ve downloaded and continue to use.
- Before updating, make sure to have your files backed up. Also, make sure to do a quick Google search for the update you’re about to do. It’s worth waiting for a week weeks after an update release to do the update. This is so that any bugs or problems can be highlighted and you can avoid any potential problems when updating yours.
Add this digital declutter to your Google Calendar (please set your own date): https://calendar.google.com/calendar/computer
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Declutter Your browser
It may be strange to have a whole section dedicated just to your browser, but it’s here for a reason. Depending on how you browse the internet, I can bet you have plenty of old bookmarks, open tabs and extensions messing up your experience.
So here’s how to digitally declutter your browser:
- Organise your open tabs. Most people keep tabs open on their computer to save articles to read later. Instead of keeping these tabs open, utilise a tool like Pocket and save your articles there instead.
- Organise your bookmarks. Just like the files on your computer, the bookmarks you’ve saved on your browser need some organising too.
- Create folders. For each area of your life/business, create some folders to contain important websites for you to refer to. Make sure these are simple and easy to use. When saving a new website, it should be able to fit into one of these folders.
- Delete unneeded bookmarks. This goes without saying, get rid of bookmarks you don’t need to look at. They are taking up space in your browser and your mind.
- Remove old extensions. Most browsers can come fitted with or have extensions added to them. These can be great tools to aid with productivity, but they can also slow down your browsing experience. Get rid of any you don’t need. Here are some handy guides to manage extensions for Chrome and Firefox.
Add this digital declutter to your Google Calendar (please set your own date): https://calendar.google.com/calendar/browser
Declutter Your Storage
I’ve touched on storage for each of the above sections, but when it comes to your cloud storage, it can become a dumping ground.
For the following, I’m going to presume you’re using something like Google Drive to organise your files in the cloud, but these techniques can work for almost any storage type.
- Gather all your storage devices in one place. This includes memory cards, hard drives, computers, devices etc.
- Pick your main file source. This will likely be your cloud storage platform like Google Drive.
- Organise your main file source. By organising your main file source first, you can apply that same formula to your other storage places.
- Create a folder framework. Just like the computer section, create a framework of folders you can use to store your files. If you’ve already set this up on your computer, then you can simply copy this same framework across.
- Organise your files. Place your files into these set folders, making sure to name your files appropriately so they can be found easily later.
- Sync your storage devices together. By syncing up all your storage devices, you can access all your files at the same time and only have to manage one storage system. If you use mostly Google products like Google Drive and an Android phone, then this should be easy. The same goes for Apple products.
- When it comes to storage spots that can’t be synced like memory cards. We advise you to remove files from these soon after use and place them in your cloud storage.
- Sync your passwords. These days a password manager is a must for anybody looking to streamline their digital life. Not only is it more secure, but it saves you holding onto files filled with passwords that could get lost or stolen. We recommend LastPass.
Add this digital declutter to your Google Calendar (please set your own date): https://calendar.google.com/calendar/storage
Digital declutter: Email
When it comes to email, everyone has a different way of using it. But if you’ve not done a digital declutter of your emails in a while, then I can bet it’s a bit of a mess and probably really overwhelming.
Here’s how you can digitally declutter your emails:
- Open/read/delete unread emails. Now’s the time. I bet you have some unopened emails in your inbox just sitting there. Now’s the time to deal with them.
- While doing this, if you spot any emails you don’t want to see in the future, unsubscribe from them right then and there. Make sure to do this on a regular basis, don’t just delete these emails.
- Organise your email folders. If you’ve already created folders for specific types of important emails, then it’s time to go through them and remove any emails you don’t actually need to keep. This might take a while but it will save you space.
- Create new email folders. Have emails that really need to be kept and referenced at a later date? Create folders for those and get sorting.
- Update your email signature. This one’s optional, but if your email signature is old, now might be the time to update it.
- Check if your email address has been compromised in a data breach.
- Websites like Have I Been Pwned can tell you if your email address and any other private information was leaked in a data breach. Although not a lot can be done about this, it acts as a warning to keep your passwords strong and your data secure.
Add this digital declutter to your Google Calendar (please set your own date): https://calendar.google.com/calendar/email
So there we have it, the ultimate guide to declutter your digital life. I’ve gone into detail for each of these with handy to-do lists and calendar links. Now it’s up to you. Go forth and digitally declutter.
Oh, and if there’s anything you’d like me to add to this guide, let me know in the comments.
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