When we think about clutter, we’re usually looking at our homes because “stuff” piled up everywhere is more noticeable than the mass of digital clutter we have on our phones, computer, and the internet. While digital clutter might not take up physical space in your home, decluttering your digital life can be just as freeing as decluttering the home.
Your Smartphone Apps
To start with, go through and delete any app you don’t use. Be honest here. Do you really play Angry Birds every day? And if you do, is this taking time away from the important things in your life?
Now that you only have apps you use on your phone, organize like apps into folders. For example, I have a folder for social media instead of having the nine (yes, nine—but I use them all) individual apps cluttering my screen.
Once you have your apps organized, put the apps and/or folders you use the most on your home screen, and move everything else to the second page. Just seeing fewer apps when you turn on phone can help you feel less stressed and overwhelmed. Some apps I like having on my home screen are my phone, messaging, camera, Evernote, and email because I use these every day, sometimes multiple times a day.
Going Forward: Before you download any new apps, ask yourself why you want to download them. Are they going to help you in some way? Will these apps replace any that you currently use? And if you download a new app and find you don’t use it, delete it—don’t let it take up space.
I know not everyone uses Pinterest, but it’s such a big project to declutter, I felt it deserved its own spot. The problem with Pinterest is we tend to save a bunch of pins and then never look at them again. How many pins do you have right now that you have never looked at except the one time you pinned them?
Odds are, you probably have several pins with either broken or corrupt links. That pin about the best way to freeze smoothies? It might not actually lead to the page it claims to. Have you checked? Or what’s more, do you still want to know the best way to freeze smoothies?
Or what about double pins? Do you need to have the same article about how to use Instagram pinned twice? Businesses may have reasons for pinning items more than one time, but for personal use, there isn’t any reason to do this.
So what do you do to declutter Pinterest?
- Go through each board and look at your pins. Delete the ones you don’t want any more or are never going to use.
- Retitle your boards so you know exactly what is on each one. It will make it so much easier for you to find a specific pin later on.
- If you have hundreds or thousands of pins, you aren’t going to be able to check the link to each one in a week, so don’t try. However, this week, you can take 5-10 minutes each day to click on the pins you feel are most useful to you and be sure they go the site they claim to.
Going Forward: Before you pin, check the link and ask yourself if you really want this saved. If the link checks out and you want the pin, pin it to the appropriate board.
Following on Social Media
Take each social media site you use one step at a time ( you don’t need to look at every site in one sitting). Look only at who you follow on these sites. (Don’t worry about followers or your content.) As you scroll through the people you follow, ask yourself why you follow them. Do you enjoy their posts? Or do you usually scroll pass what they have to say? Or do you not even remember following this person and have no idea why you ever did?
Then all you have to do is unfollow anyone you no longer wish to follow. (That’s pretty self-explanatory, right?)
Going Forward: Before you follow someone new, quickly check out their feed. Is this someone you want to follow? What are they offering? Advice, entertainment, news updates, or information on topics you care about? It’s okay to be selective about your follow on any social media platform, especially when you use social media for your personal life.
I’m not going to dive into all of email clutter—I could write a book on this; there have been books written about this. But I do want to talk to you about email subscriptions and why you need to declutter these pronto: They’re space hogs! Unless you want a specific subscription, say to a blogger’s newsletter or you love knowing when Staples is having a sell, all of those “junk-mail” emails coming into your inbox are taking space away from the important emails you need to respond to.
I used to just delete all these junk emails without ever opening them. Simple right? But still, what a waste of time. Stop doing this. Instead, at the bottom of each subscription email (in very tiny print, of course) you will see a link that says “Unsubscribe.” Click this.
If you want a simpler solution, Unroll.me will show you a list of all your subscriptions and from there, you can choose which ones to opt out of.
Going Forward: Think before you subscribe, and if you ever find yourself deleting emails from a source every single time they come into your inbox without ever looking at them, that’s a pretty good indicator that you need to unsubscribe.
Again, I could write a ridiculous amount of words on decluttering your computer filing system, so I’m just focusing on the desktop itself. When you turn on your computer, you do not want to be overwhelmed with the mass of programs, documents, and links piled on it. Much like a clutter phone home screen, a cluttered desktop can stress you out and make you feel overwhelmed. It’s hard to work like that, isn’t it?
Take an afternoon and look at every single file on your desktop. If it does not need to be there, delete it or move it. You should reserve your desktop for items you reach for on a daily basis like the Web or Word and Excel. Maybe you have a financial spreadsheet you fill out every day: that can be on your desktop too.
Once your desktop is cleared out and you only have your most important items there, quickly organize them with like items. For example, I have Word, Excel, and PowerPoint next to each other on my desktop.
Going Forward: Think before you save to the desktop. Is this something you need access to daily? If not, find the right folder and save it there instead.
"When you aren't tied to your devices or distracted by the unnecessary interruptions, you leave room for creative thinking and deep-level planning." -S. J. Scott
Tell me in the comments what your number one tip is for decluttering your digital life.