Easy Ways to Deal with Digital Clutter

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Alright, so you've embraced minimalism. You've spent time decluttering your physical possessions and focusing on what things you want to allow in your life.

So now what? What's the next step?

Well, there are lots of possible next steps, but today we'll take a look at digital clutter.

It can be difficult to even think of digital clutter as an issue. It doesn't take up any space like our physical possessions do, so you can't see it piling up when you walk into your home.

It's easy to overlook. But dealing with your digital clutter can be just as important as dealing with the physical clutter.

How often do we sit down at the computer to get work done but end up completely distracted. We can't find the file we're looking for, or something on the internet catches our eye and we spend our time surfing instead of working.

Digital clutter can be very distracting.

So how do we do it, then? How do we rid ourselves of the digital clutter when it is so often overlooked?

Here are some simple ways to remove the distractions and start cutting down on the clutter.

Unsubscribe to unwanted emails

This may seem incredibly obvious, but how often do we actually unsubscribe to email we don't want?

Even I'm guilty of just scrolling past unwanted junk email and thinking "I'll deal with it later."

Be intentional when you check your email. Set aside time and sort through what's new in your inbox. If there's something you don't want, instead of just deleting it, scroll all the way to the bottom and find the unsubscribe link.

It'll be tedious now, but you'll thank yourself later.

And all those blogs you subscribe to? All the email newsletters that you think "Oh, I'll get back to this and read it later" but then never do? Unsubscribe.

If you don't make the effort to read something within a few days of receiving it, you probably aren't going to. Go through your subscriptions and decide which ones you'd really like to make an effort to read. Keep those.

And then set aside time each week to actually read them.

Purge your internet bookmarks

For this one, you can follow the same rules you did when you unsubscribed to the blog emails.

Do you have dozens are articles bookmarked to read later? Be realistic with yourself. Are you really going to read them later?

Go through everything you have bookmarked. If something catches your eye again, go read it right then and then you can delete it. If they no longer interest you, delete them.

I am guilty of bookmarking websites I visit often. When I open my web browser, I'm greeted by a list of every website I could possibly want to look at. It is so easy to just open 4 or 5 tabs all at once and then flip frantically between them trying to do several things at once.

It's not very efficient.

If I'm trying to get my blog work done, I don't need to be distracted by Facebook or see Pinterest begging to be opened in a new tab.

It's OK to keep a few.

I cut down on mine this week but keep a few essentials that are good resources for work. No more distracting social media related sites.

A good rule of thumb would be, if you can remember the web address without the bookmark, you can probably get rid of it. 

Turn off phone notifications

I'm not sure phone notifications really count as clutter, but they are a distraction. And I tend to say clutter can be anything that distracts you from living the life you want.

I turned off all notifications on my phone except for calls and text messages.

No badge icons show up on my home screen telling me to check facebook or pinterest or any of those. It drove me crazy at first, but it is a relief to be able to check the time on my phone and not see a long list of things that may or may not need my attention.

I also added quiet hours to my phone, which I highly recommend you do.

My cell phone is also my alarm clock so it sits by my bed all night. There were so many times I would wake up from an almost-sleep because a text message lit up my phone. And it was always something that could wait until morning.

So now, between the hours of 8:30pm and 8:30am, I'm not alerted to messages, phone calls, nothing.

Well, unless it's an emergency. I have a few contacts that can call and those will come through at any time.

Remove games and unused apps

If you're not using them, they're taking up space you could use for something else. Get rid of them.

If they're games, chances are they're distracting you from more important things. Get rid of them.

If you don't have something you can do to procrastinate, you'll be more likely to get your work done. Or you'll end up finding more productive ways to procrastinate.

Yes, there is such a thing as productive procrastinating.

(I happen to be an expert)

As a rule, I don't download games onto my phone or tablet. I am notorious for procrastinating and wasting a lot of time doing nothing. Having games right at my fingertips would only make it worse. It's easiest to not even have the temptation.

Removing games and unused apps from your phone will, obviously, clear up more space on your phone, but it'll also help you spend less time on your phone. Which gives you more time to spend doing the things you love or spending time with the people around you.

Removed unused icons from desktop

Don't underestimate the power of a clean desktop.

The same way a messy room can cause an increase in stress and anxiety, so can a messy desktop. You'll be surprised how much calmer you'll feel looking at your computer when there's not a slew of icons staring back at you.

But it follows the same train of thought as removing the internet bookmarks. It's so easy to get distracted.

I used to keep a full desktop.

I'd turn on my computer intending to edit some pictures. As soon as I'd see the slew of icons I had on the desktop, I would have the urge to open itunes, check my email, hop over to facebook, and about a dozen other things.

Seeing all the other icons would remind me of a dozen other things I needed or wanted to do. An hour later, I'd finally get started on the pictures.

It is just like having a clean room. A clean desktop helps keep your mind clear and focused.

Label everything - make use of folders

The more detailed you get in naming your files and folders, the easier it's going to be to find things.

And it'll make things so much easier if you decide clean up later. You'll know exactly what everything is and if it's worth keeping or tossing in the recycling bin.

Get into the habit of being very detailed in naming your pictures and files.

I used to opt for shorter file names, but that did me no favors when I had to remember what things were.

Sometimes more is more.

Name all photos and files as soon as you transfer them to your computer. You can organize things further by placing them in folders. Your folders should also be thoughtfully named.

It'll take some time getting files and pictures set up the way you want them.

Remember, you don't need to get everything done in a day. Take your time. It took a long time, maybe years, for you to acquire all your pictures and files. It's going to take some time to clean them up.

One more thing I want to mention is duplicates.

You don't need files in multiple places on your computer. But, if you also have cloud drives or external backups, go ahead and keep a duplicate on one of those.

Having a backup is always a good idea, especially if it's pictures or files you know you want to keep forever.

Don't get crazy with it though. You don't need 3 or 4 copies of a file, one on your computer, one on USB, one in a cloud drive and one somewhere else. For most things, just having one backup is just fine.

And that's it! That's how I keep my digital clutter to a minimum.

If you have any other methods of keeping your electronics clutter free, please share them with us! We love ideas and inspiration.

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