Digital clutter, we all suffer from it. Do you have more than 10, 100 or 1000 emails / whatsappes in your inbox, x thousand photos on your phone, bookmarks in your browser that you never look at ... this is an article for you. We're going to clean up the digital clutter using a few steps.
Credits for this article: Wildsociety
Table of contents
Before I take you through the process of de-cluttering your digital world ... it's helpful to address a few things that this 'declutter' tour is related to.
One of the main components of the FlyLady system is the '31 BabySteps' concept. These are small steps that contribute to getting your household on track and thus also contribute to your well-being.
What FlyLady says is; your home/life didn't become cluttered or even a mess in one day, so it won't be tidy and organized in one day either. To prevent you from going too hard and risking a crash in the process, she developed these 31 baby steps.
Important to read!
There are a few rules that are important to the success of your change.
- Set up small routines first and then build up to more elements.
- Consistency is the most important thing! You need time to build something into a routine. If you systematically make small changes, you will see big results over time. So, making changes consequently is important. Don't make a huge to-do list. As a result, you become overwhelmed and throw in the towel faster. Appreciate the process of the small steps.
Small changes big result
A quick side step about building routines and how that works ...
Turning a new habit into a routine is often difficult because we don't see immediate results. And that's what we actually need as human beings. Think of it as follows;
You have a scale, one of those old-fashioned ones with a dish on both sides. On the left scale there are 100 grains of sand and on the right side nothing.
Each grain of sand represents a new habit performed. When you have performed the habit, one grain of sand goes from the left side to the right side. Each time you have accomplished a new habit it contributes to the tipping of the scale, you just don't see anything of it for the first 49 grains of sand. But there comes a time when ONE grain of sand is going to make a difference and tip that scale to the other side. Without the earlier 49 grains, it never would have happened.
This is how you can think of building a new habit. Remember that every time you take action to work on your new habit, there is a shift toward the result that is to come. A grain of sand goes to the other bowl. You need motivation to start, you need habits to make the change happen.
What does this have to do with digital declutter
Also, the pile of digital clutter in all our devices, is a result of sometimes years of collecting. You can't clean that up in a day, probably not even in a month. The key is to start and then systematically implement the steps.
Unfortunately, there is still no magic wand with which we can have everything in order in a twinkle and some glitter. So step by step we are going to de-clutter the house and by house I mean our digital house as well. Every day (!) set the timer for 15 minutes and start de-cluttering ... but digitally. You can also apply this to the rooms in your home of course (in this article you can read more about that). But for now, we focus on the digital world.
Divide digital environment into zones
In FlyLady land, the house is divided into zones. Each room or floor is a zone that is being worked on. Similarly, I have divided the digtial world into zones.
- Zone 1: computer
- Zone 2: photo's
- Zone 3: webbrowser
- Zone 4: cell-phone
- Zone 5: e-mail
These zones rotate with Flylady's standard zones. This means a different zone each week. You can read more about this zone approach and what I clean around the house in this article .
I can't avoid it. Two disclaimers
- Disclaimer 1: The list I am about to mention is not a complete list. It may vary from person to person, because not everyone uses the same products or media. It is a guide for you, a tool in the digital de-cluttering process. Cross out what you don't use, add to what you need.
- Disclaimer 2: when you don't know if something affects software / a program, files or whatever. Don't throw it away and ask for help in getting rid of that digital stuff. I'm sure there are still lots of things you can delete that you're sure won't hurt. Beautifulgreymouse is not responsible for any damage to your digital world. Unfortunately, I have to name it this way ... let's continue.
Do you find the list below helpful? You can download it for free. When you start cleaning up, set the timer for 15 minutes. If the timer goes off, you are done with this task for the day!
Zone 1: the computer
- Clean up your desktop. For example: you are not using certain shortcuts. Then consider removing them.
- Go through your 'download' folder and clean up what can be cleared.
- Go through your randomly saved documents and organize them into folders.
- Give documents a proper name so you know what it relates to and it is easy to find later using the search function.
- Create a backup!
- Clean up applications you don't use.
- Are you sure you can delete everything? Then empty the trash can on your desktop.
Zone 3: webbrowser
- Empty your cache and delete cookies. You can make it happen automatically and otherwise it's a small action.
- Remove unused extensions.
- Go through your bookmark folders. Are the links still working, do you still need them?
Zone 4: cell-phone
- If you don't back up your phone regularly, at least back up your contacts and photos.
- Make sure your software is up to date.
- Want to be more productive? Turn off notifications from social media apps.
- Unfollow accounts that make you feel negative.
- Organise apps into groups (if this does not happen automatically). For example, all social media apps in one group, all banking apps in one group, etc.
- Delete apps you don't use or need.
- Delete old notes and reminders.
- Go through your contacts and remove those you no longer need from the list.
- Check your whatsapp and / or messages (SMS) and clean them up.
- Update your favourite contacts.
Zone 5: e-mail
- Sort by unread e-mails and delete the ones you are not going to read any more.
- Unsubscribe from newsletters you don't read.
- Create email folders so you can store the emails you need to keep organised. For example, a folder with 'waiting for'. This is a term from the Getting Things Done method. You have a question and are waiting for an answer, then the mail goes into that folder. You can create a folder with 'tickets' for events that are still to come, etc.
We hear a lot about minimalism and de-cluttering around us, but are quick to skip the digital clutter. And that clutter also affects us (unconsciously) every day. It is no coincidence that they say 'a tidy house is a tidy head'. This certainly also applies to the digital world. Especially because we are so overloaded with information, an organised digital environment is important.
A 15-minute session each day in the area concerned
As I write this article, we are in zone 2 of the Flylady system. This is the kitchen. Apart from doing extra cleaning chores in the kitchen this week, I am also cleaning the digital zone 2 ; photo's.
Don't be discouraged by the pile of work that remains after your timer goes off, but focus on the grains of sand you have moved (see my scale explanation above). And if you don't have 15 minutes a day to do this, set the timer for 10 or 5 minutes. But take action and do it daily. That way you will get things under control and eventually it will become a habit.
A creative de-cluttering greeting,
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