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Clutter Busting Your Digital Life

Many of us start off the new year with a resolution to get our house in order. Often, we fail to recognize that our digital life requires the same level of purging and ongoing maintenance.

Photo by Andras Vas on Unsplash
Photo by Andras Vas on Unsplash

I am slightly obsessed with home organizing. I’ve studied and implemented many of the strategies and tips from well-known experts like Marie Kondo, Francine Jay, Amanda Sullivan, and Brooks Palmer. In fact, this article is inspired by Palmer, who invented the concept of clutter busting.

“Clutter busting involves actively breaking through barriers and letting go of the unnecessary clutter that crowds your life.”

Brooks Palmer

Many of us start off the new year with a resolution to get our house in order, whether it is sorting through our closets and donating old clothes or cleaning out expired food from the pantry. Often, we fail to recognize that our digital life requires the same level of purging and ongoing maintenance.

While our digital life consumes much less physical space, it can take up a lot more mental space. You may not even realize all of the energy that is stored in your electronic devices until you start to let it go.  

Here are a few tips on where to begin:

Examine Your Social Media Presence

Social media has both positive and negative aspects, and for me the negative simply outweighed the positive. Even though I was only a casual user of social media, I realized that I was losing time that could be spent on more beneficial pursuits. So, I decided to delete my Facebook and Twitter accounts.

I hesitated at first, wondering how I would stay in touch with my friends and keep up to date with all of the cute baby pics. But I can honestly say that I have no regrets about deleting my accounts. In fact, I have not thought twice about it.

Even if you are not ready to delete your social media accounts altogether, you might consider purging your friends list and deleting old photos and posts that no longer reflect who you are today. And try to find ways to limit your social media use to a certain amount of time per day. Maybe someday you’ll be ready to take the next step and shut it down once and for all.

Deactivate Outdated Digital Projects

There is an interesting term in home organizing called “aspirational clutter.” In your digital life, this may include ideas or projects that you started but never finished. Yet, there is always the hope that you might go back to them someday.

I started a writing a blog back in 2010. At first, I was blogging all the time, but as time went on, I found that I was writing less often. My blog became something that I felt pressured to do, instead of something I loved doing. After shutting down my blog, I felt liberated. Coincidentally, within a few months of shutting down my blog, I discovered Thrive Global – and I have been happily writing here ever since.

Take a minute to assess your unfinished digital projects and think about whether there is a real possibility that you will ever pick them up again. Whether you had aspirations to start an online business or become a nationally recognized blogger, give yourself permission to let that idea go. It might create some space for something even better.

Purge Your Email Archives

Emails are a major source of digital clutter. I used to store all of my personal emails in my inbox, until it started to become unwieldy. I had emails from my friends and family dating back to 2008. A few years ago, I wanted to streamline my inbox, so I created a folder for each person and moved all of the old emails over to my archives. That approach left me with a very manageable inbox, but I knew that I would have to deal with my digital clutter eventually.

Recently, I have taken on the task of going through each of the folders and reading through the emails. I have been deleting most of them, which makes me wonder why I held onto them so long in the first place! When I come across a message I want to keep, I move it into an archive folder that is only for emails with sentimental value.

Unlike my other digital clutter busting projects, which have been relatively easy, this project has been more challenging. It can be emotionally exhausting to revisit certain times in my life. But that is exactly why I need to do it. By deleting all of those emails from my computer I am also processing and letting go of their contents once and for all.

Ultimately, that is one of the biggest benefits of clutter busting your digital life. It can help you release negative energy from the past and create space to be who you are, right here in the present moment.

“Clutter busting helps restore clarity and insight. When you clutter bust, you find yourself.”

Brooks Palmer
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