4 Tips to Clear Digital Clutter.
You’ve cut down on the clutter in your home and can finally see to the back of your closet. Ahhh… But what about your digital clutter? With so much of our time spent with our beloved screens it’s important to be just as mindful with what’s deep in the “closets” of our electronic homes.
Here's 4 tips to help you clear the clutter in your digital life.
1. Clean Up Your Files.
If we’re going with the “home” metaphor here, your file finder is the basement or attic or maybe the storage locker you haven’t opened in years. You save everything in there just in case you might need it some day, and it’s so big that sometimes you feel like you have an infinite amount of space for this stuff. But neither the black hole of your attic nor your digital file storage is truly limitless. Productivityist has a great step-by-step guide for how to become a digital minimalist.
Not feeling up to a grand overhaul at the moment? Start with your desktop - remove all files and folders from your desktop and find a space for them somewhere else. Once they’re gone, update your background with something that makes you feel good - Design Love Fest shares beautiful free downloads to “dress your tech” almost every week. Moving forward, stop dragging things to your desktop and find a home for them right away. And at the end of the day, close all your windows and applications so your pretty background is the first thing you see the next morning, instead of a mess of open windows (and not the ones that lead to the great outdoors).
2. Clean Up Your Email.
Gmail does a pretty good job of automatically moving spam and promotional emails into seperate folders so you only see the things you absolutely need to, but you can do even more by unsubscribing from extra junk. Some mail services like Gmail give you the option to do this when they recognize the email is from a listserv, so you can just click “unsubscribe” right at the top without even scrolling to the bottom. A good rule to follow to live more simply? Unsubscribe from any emails that are trying to sell you things - this can have the added effect of helping you buy less! When I do buy something online, I unsubscribe to the very first “welcome!” email I get from the site - this ensures that I don’t even get a chance to start coveting their spring collection…
3. Clean Up Your Web Browser.
We are exposed to over 5,000 ads a day, most of these on digital sites. These ads are not just cluttering our minds, they are driving much of the consumerism that maintains the fast fashion industry and much of the overconsumption of our society. Each time you see that pair of shoes you looked up on a whim the other day, you feel more and more like this item is something you need. Kill these unhealthy reminders with Google Chrome extensions like AdBlock, which removes ads from websites you choose to visit, and one of our personal favorites: KillNewsFeed. It completely cures your Facebook scrolling addition while keeps all of the positive connections to friends. Do most of your web browsing on your SmartPhone? Always read articles in “Reader View”, which removes all distracting ads and links and lets you enjoy the actual content of what you’re reading.
4. Clean up your SmartPhone.
Our phones keep us connected to friends, family and the world at large, but just like your real life you should always be in control of when you are reachable and when you just want to be in the moment. Take a few minutes today to go through and delete any apps that you don’t use regularly or that you don’t absolutely need on your phone. For the apps you do keep, turn off unnecessary notifications to keep your screen and your mind clearer. Choosing when to check in about breaking news or instagram likes instead of getting that steady stream of reminders can feel absolutely liberating - trust us. Finally, the “Do not disturb” and “Airplane” modes are your friends - use these not just when you go to bed at night, but any time you’re wanting to be present throughout your day. This can help break the habit of pulling out your phone and scrolling whenever a craving hits or you hear that inevitable “ping.”
After you’ve done your digital purge, it can be helpful to apply the same process we recommend after a physical purge. Any time you’re looking to save or download something new, pause and ask yourself: is this necessary? Is this valuable? Will it bring me joy? If yes, put it in it’s right spot right away, keeping things organized. If not, let it go and reward yourself by spending a few moments gazing at your new, clear and serene desktop (or even better, out the window!).
Written by Natasha Brownlee.