Time Well Spent//

Reducing Digital Clutter

Creating More Time and Space Online and IRL

Just because it's not taking up physical space doesn't mean digital clutter isn't clutter.

It’s probably pretty obvious that I care a lot about helping you get your clutter reduced and helping you find ways to organize your physical spaces and processes. One thing we often overlook, however, because it’s not obvious clutter, are our digital spaces.

Think about your email inboxes, or old messages hanging out in your social media accounts. I know some of you have a number up over 1,000 on your email app on your iPhone. While you’ve probably become adept at just ignoring it, it’s still clutter, and it’s likely wasting time you’re not even aware of.

Email

Okay, seriously. You’ve subscribed to like a thousand email lists. You’re getting coupons upon coupons and notices about sales and offers you have no interest in actually looking in to. Think about what stores you actually shop at, which blogs and websites you really enjoy reading, and unsubscribe from the rest (except this one, because, duh). The time you spend either scrolling past them or deleting them is a waste. Keep your inbox clean and only filled with what you want to see.

Emails you get from your boss, coworkers, clients, etc. should all be filed and organized based on topic and priority. Make use of folders and alerts so that you can easily access what you need when you need it. Once you’ve finished a task or answered a question and have no reason to go back to it, delete it.

Put a reminder in your calendar to go into your email folders every six months and delete anything you’ve saved but no longer actually need.

Social Media

So this one isn’t as obvious, but think about it. Take Instagram, for example. You’ve followed a zillion people but in reality you KNOW there are only a handful of regulars you actually want to see. How many are you mindlessly scrolling by wondering how you ever followed them in the first place? Just unfollow them. You’ll have social media feeds you actually want to see, and spend less time on social media in general.

Apps

Ugh. I hate this so much. You’re asked to download an app for one stupid thing and it lives on your phone until you get a new phone, or you’re trying to free up space, and you’re like, what was this for anyway? Do a periodic check to delete random apps. Same goes for games your kids downloaded on your phone and promptly forgot about.

eBooks

This is an area I’ll admit I’m about 50/50. While I love the eBook simplicity and ease (I just got back from vacation and there was no way I was lugging 7 books across five time zones), I also love the feel and smell of a real book. Plus, the analog version is a heck of a lot easier on the eyes when we’re all on screens as much as we are. But, we can start to accumulate even too many of these. They’re hanging out on your iPad or Kindle, and sometimes even your laptop (free eBooks start to pile up on your hard drive and you forget about them).

A good rule of thumb with books in general, is to lend them or donate them if you’re certain you’ll never want to read them or need to reference them again. Make some time to go through and delete the eBooks taking up digital space.

Digital Photos

Download them, save them, sort them, and delete what you don’t need. They’re taking up space, and there’s no way you need to keep 35 of the same shot of your kid putting cake in his hair.

You may not have the same feeling of satisfaction you get from cleaning out a closet or a pantry, but you’re going to feel pretty good about how much more quickly you navigate your digital spaces, and how much cleaner they feel. You’ll also start to notice your productivity go up once you stop having to “avoid” or sort through so much digital clutter.

Today’s Pairing

I personally find purging digital clutter a bit tedious. I love it in a weird way, but it can be time-consuming, and not nearly as fun as throwing things into a bin or a garbage bag. For a task such as this, we need a bold, heavy red. Something hearty that can take us through to the finish line. I recommend a good glass of Chianti.

Chianti says, “I’ve actually had Chianti before, and have heard of it beyond Silence of the Lambs” but also says, “I’d probably drink any wine strong enough to help me delete emails I’ve been hoarding since before texting was a thing because I thought he really loved me!!!

Let me know what you’ve still got hanging around your digital spheres that you should have let go of a long time ago, I’d love to hear your stories! Drop me a comment.

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