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In your home and life, a tidy, uncluttered space breathes fresh energy into everything. In the same way, a more satisfying, fresh, and efficient experience results from an uncluttered computer. Don’t underestimate the importance of a digital declutter project.
The advantages far outweigh the time commitment that is required to declutter your digital life, and given that February 8th is officially designated Clean Out Your Computer Day, you know you are not alone in needing to get this done!
To keep your digital clutter to a minimum, and make using your gadgets, and the Internet in general, more productive, efficient and even fun, try attacking these areas of digital clutter to minimize and organize your desktop – and more.
You remove the mail from your mailbox every day. Apply the same principle to your email inbox. If you can answer an email in less than two minutes, do it right away. If it will take longer, move it into a “work in progress” folder to be addressed when you have more time.
Speaking of inbox clutter as a part of your digital declutter unsubscribe from newsletters / advertisements that no longer add value to your life. Don’t just delete them, unsubscribe. It should take only a few seconds by clicking the “Unsubscribe” link on the bottom of the email.
Nobody needs more than two e-mail accounts (work/personal). One is even better. Consolidating email accounts is relatively easy – here’s how to do it for Gmail – if you are concerned about missing out on certain messages.
Files and Software
Files and software are a major source of clutter on a computer, and, in many cases for no reason. Cloud access is more readily available than ever before – and in many cases free – and you don’t even need a big program like Microsoft Office installed on your machine if you make use of a utility like Microsoft Office 360 or Google Docs.
If you do prefer to keep documents on your physical hard drive at least make sure that you really do need them. You could probably delete half of those documents and never regret it. If you don’t want to delete them completely, consider moving them into an archive folder, so they don’t clutter your most-used document folders anymore. Or, better still, send them to the cloud.
Old and Unused Software/Programs/Apps
Uninstalling is different from deleting a shortcut. Uninstalling programs frees up space on hard drive—simply deleting shortcuts doesn’t. Once you have done that, clean away any remaining traces – and your computer in general, with a cleanup utility. You’ll find a great list of some of the best ones here.
Remove as many icons from your desktop as possible. It is the equivalent of working at a cluttered desk. A clean desktop clears your workspace and allows you to concentrate on the task at hand.
Appreciate the simple beauty of a minimalist background. A background that does not clutter your eyes or mind will improve your productivity and attention span far more than you think. Apple do a great job with their default backgrounds for Mac, but if you dig you can find some similar ones for a Windows based PC too.
The same is true of your Internet start page.
How many times have you hopped on-line just to get a small piece of information only to be sidetracked by political news, sports scores, or celebrity gossip? Probably countless times, as you have an Internet start page that displays it all.
Embrace minimalism here too. Either set your homepage to the very simple Google.com page or make use of a browser app like Momentum. The latter is a great idea as you can add bookmarks and even a simple to-do list to it as well.
Delete bookmarks that are no longer needed and it will be easier and more efficient to find those that you do need. It is as simple as Right-Click > Delete when hovering over each one, no matter which browser you use. For the remaining bookmarks, use a folder system for quicker navigation.
Declutter Social Media
Social media has become a way of life for many of us. While Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other tools help us stay connected and can be very entertaining, an over-reliance on them can lead to anxiety, distraction, and a feeling of overwhelm that can sometimes become paralyzing.
Here are a few tips to strike a balance in how you use social media:
Take a break from your social media
Take a social media “fast” or break: If you feel bad after using social media, try a social media fast — going offline for a period of time, even if just a day or two — or significantly limiting how much time you spend on social media.
Notice changes during your fast: While you’re off social media, notice how you feel. Are you thinking differently? Are you reading more? Focusing better? What do you like about being off of social media, and what do you miss?
Reorganize your social media
Based on your “fast” experience, reorganize your social media so you’re using it in ways that feel better and help make the most of your digital declutter plan.
Use as few social media apps as possible: It takes a lot of brain space to check and be active on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, and more all in the same day.
Pick one or two and then resolve to only check the others (if you really have to) once a week.
Use lists: You can create lists based on subject areas or groups of friends for Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date on certain subjects or people without having to scroll through an unwieldy feed. On Instagram, you can “mute” seeing stories from certain people, check who you interact with most and least, and create a close friends list for sharing your stories.
Reduce who you follow or are friends with
“Hide,” unfollow, or even unfriend people on social media.
Bookmark specific pages
If you mainly use Facebook to stay in the loop about upcoming events, or a few professional groups, bookmark those pages and go to them directly, to avoid the feed.
“Eradicate” your feed
You can also avoid getting sucked into Facebook’s feed by blocking it with the News Feed Eradicator plugin for Chrome or Mozilla, which replaces it with an inspiring quote.
Here are more ways to moderate your social media use going forward:
- Remove social media apps from your phone: It’s easier to avoid mindless scrolling if you don’t have social media apps on your phone.
- Schedule time to go on social media: If you want or need to use social media, schedule time to use it. This flips on its head the way we usually use these tools, to fill unscheduled time. This method helps you set limits for yourself.
- Mute notifications: Silencing the dings on your device will help you avoid getting sucked into a digital vortex.
- Engage more, like less: ‘Liking” is a shallow and passive interaction. Instead, try to engage with genuinely interesting content. Commenting on posts where you actually have something to say is a more active way to use social media.
Speaking of your phone it is likely that it needs a good declutter too. Here is an article I wrote that will help you accomplish that task.
Need help decluttering and/or organizing any aspect of your home, business or day to day life? We can help. Contact us here or call 832-271-7608 to discuss what we can do for you.