I was having a great conversation and I wanted to show my new friend a picture of my dog.
I paused the conversation to look for a good picture of my adorable yorkie-poo Barley but as I scrolled and scrolled and scrolled I mostly saw a bunch of random junk pics and the conversation I was having waited and waited and died a slow death.
When I gave up, it was hard to pick up the cadence of the conversation again and that was pretty much the end of that.
That was when I realized I needed a digital declutter.
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Do You Need a Digital Declutter?
It might be time to declutter your digital life if your phone is full of pictures of grocery store items, receipts, or bad selfies.
You might need a digital declutter if your are running out of storage space, can’t find the note you need, or you don’t even know half the people in your contact list.
More importantly, you might need a digital declutter if your digital liwfe is starting to take over your REAL life. Did you know that the average American spends more than 5 hours a day looking at their phone? That is a big chunk of our life.
I am the first to confess that I too have a bit of a screen time problem and I definitely need a digital declutter. So where do we start?
Part 1: Digital Declutter Your Phone
Let’s start our digital decluttering with your phone. You are holding it already. When you declutter your phone you are making a huge step towards decluttering your digital life.
How To Declutter Photos:
It can be pretty tedious but it’s time to open your pictures and start deleting all the junk pictures. These might include pictures that were part of a text conversation that is long past, pictures of items you were thinking about buying, bad selfies, and duplicate triplicate and quadruplicate pics of the same thing you took when you were trying to get the perfect shot.
I do a picture audit every couple of months and I am always surprised at how many pictures I don’t need anymore. The best part of deleting the bad pictures is it makes it easier to see the good pictures. You can help yourself even further by creating files for trips, categories, pets, and people.
Declutter Your Apps:
There’s an app for that! Yes, those famous words were coined at the beginning of the smartphone revolution and they are truer than ever today! I learn Spanish, tune my violin, read my Bible, check the weather and the news, track my heart rate, follow my friends on social media, listen to books, and buy groceries through the apps on my phone. It’s truly a miracle what we can do with our phones.
However, if you are in a hurry and you are looking through 50 pages of apps on your phone it can get really frustrating. Take a moment to look through your apps and delete any that you haven’t used lately. Don’t worry. It’s really easy to download them again if you need to.
You can declutter your apps even further by categorizing them into folders and placing those folders on your home screen pages in order of priority. I currently have all social media and entertainment apps in a file on the third page of my home screen to discourage random scrolling of these platforms.
Declutter Everything Else
Now that you have to two biggest categories under your belt it is time to check a few other parts of your phone. In every category listed below, you are looking to clear out anything that is no longer of importance to you so that you can find the things you need when you need them.
- Text Messages
- Recent Calls
Part 2: Digital Declutter Your Computer
Odds are good that your phone was actually more cluttered than your computer will be. (If you have a tablet follow the digital decluttering tips under the phone section.) Don’t be overwhelmed just because your computer is bigger.
I am a blogger. I download tons of files for my blog. So I have to go through my files regularly. But let me tell you, it is TOTALLY worth it! Having a tidy computer is like having a tidy room! It makes my brain feel so much better.
Declutter Pictures On Your Computer:
Decluttering your pictures can be the biggest task! I would highly recommend that your first step is to create files you can put your pictures into. These categories could be Trips, Family, Business, Random. Then within those files, you will need more files. For example inside of your trips file make a new file called “Mexico” or “New York” so that you can find pictures for specific trips easily.
Once you have your files it will be easy to select huge chunks of pictures and move them to the correct file. After that is done go through them and delete bad pictures. Only keep the best of the best so that when you look at your pictures you enjoy them instead of feeling overwhelmed.
Once you have done this once you will have a good idea of how to declutter photos and organize them in a way that works for you. That will make it easier in the future.
Declutter Your Documents
Decluttering your documents can be just as hard and much less fun than decluttering your pictures but it is arguably a more important part of digital decluttering.
Again you need to create broad category folders and then smaller sub-category folders. Make sure that you make a specific file for taxes and then a sub-category for each year. If you run a business from your computer have a folder for your business and then several sub-category folders within it. For example, I have a folder named “Blog” but within that folder, I have folders called “posts, freebies, education” and so forth.
Declutter Everything Else:
Decluttering your pictures and documents will be the biggest, most time-consuming part of your digital declutter so once you are done with those, take a break! But don’t forget to come back and declutter the rest of your computer. Look for anything that is totally outdated or no longer used in the following categories:
- Music files
- Browser Plug-ins
Declutter Your Digital Life!
Now that you have finished your digital declutter you probably feel amazing! When you enter your digital space it is tidy and easy to use! You know where everything is and you can’t wait to dive in!
But wait! Your digital declutter isn’t done yet. Now it is time to declutter your digital life. What do I mean? I mean it is time to reevaluate the way your digital life is affecting your real life. Ask yourselves these questions and be honest.
- Have you ever stopped a real-life conversation to text someone back? How often?
- Does your family often tell you things that you don’t HEAR because you are looking at your phone?
- How many time a day do you check social media or the news?
- Do you text and drive?
- Do you have dinner with or without your phone?
- Have you gone to the bathroom with your phone today?
I’ll be honest with you. I was able to create these amazingly candid questions because I have been guilty of all of these things far too often.
I recently listened to two books that helped me change my perspective and regain huge chunks of my time.
Minimize Your Digital Life
In both Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport and How to Break Up With Your Phone by Catherine Price, I was alerted to the ways that our devices take over our lives. I learned how social media platforms and games are designed to addict us to them, how this addiction can affect our overall attention span, and how our constant connectivity can wreak havoc on our mental health. Most importantly I learned that all the time we spend on our phones and computers is time stolen from real and meaningful relationships and productive endeavors.
At the end of your life do you want your headstone to read: “Just a minute. Let me finish this text!” or do you want it to say you were a loving daughter and a devoted wife? Do you want to be remembered for something beautiful you created or would you like to be remembered as semi-comatose on the couch? If you feel like too much of your life is spent in the digital vortex it might be time to reconsider how you use technology on a daily basis.
Here are a few things you can try to help you curb your digital appetite:
- Institute a no phones rule at dinner.
- Do not answer calls or texts while with others. (It’s call “phubbing” or phone snubbing.)
- Set a screen time limit on your phone so that none of the fun stuff is available late at night or early in the morning.
- Don’t charge your phone in the bedroom.
- Remove social media apps from your phone or move them to a file that is not on the front page of your phone.
To become more informed about the toll your digital life could be having on your real life I highly recommend that you read Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport and How to Break Up With Your Phone by Catherine Price.
A Digital Declutter Could Change Your Life!
It is easy to postpone digital decluttering because it seems tedious and somewhat unnecessary. After all, those files, pictures, and messages aren’t making your house messy.
However, I have found that a digital declutter can change your life. When you tidy up your digital spaces and declutter your digital life you will reduce stress, increase productivity, and free up tons of time. More than that, it might just change your life! If you need to escape the digital vortex and discovery reality again, a digital declutter is just what you need!
As always the benefits of decluttering digitally or physically are amazing! Don’t put off decluttering your digital life!
Do You Need to Declutter Your Entire Home?
You’ve been meaning to get rid of stuff that isn’t digital. You need to declutter your house, for real this time. But you feel overwhelmed and your excuses keep holding you back!
That’s exactly why I created the Fearless Decluttering E-Book and Printable Pages as a flexible program that will help you declutter at your own pace. You can get it done in less than a month or take a little more time.
Either way, the Fearless Decluttering Program will help you build your decluttering muscles so that you get rid of stuff at the right time and declutter in a way that feels good to you!