Lately, there has been a big movement towards decluttering, minimizing, and organizing. In an effort to have a peaceful environment to live (and work) in, I've been embracing my inner Mari Kondo.
This did not apparently translate over into my digital environment until recently.
Last week, I had a moment where I went to my office, sat down to get some work done and realized that my computer desktop was an absolute disaster. I had programs, files, and folders that spanned more than 50% of the width of my screen in a relatively small viewing size.
(If you were to minimize this browser window, are you facing a similar situation?)
Isn't it crazy how something you stare at for several hours a day can go unnoticed after awhile?
At that point, what had been seen could not be unseen. This chaos was staring me in the face and I had to do something about it. Here are some of the steps I took to declutter my digital world:
1. Set aside some time to do an initial re-organization of your virtual desktop. Depending on how much you have to go through, it may have to be something that you do over a free weekend, or over the course of a few evenings.
2. Make sure projects, files, and folders have a home. This is going to make it much easier to file everything away once you start sorting through it all. When I started this process, none of my blog photos or YouTube videos were in a central location. I ended up moving everything into my work/professional folder and sorting everything into sub-folders from there. Now if I need to access something from a previous post or save things for an upcoming project, I know exactly where to find it.
3. Delete any files and programs that you don't need or aren't using. Just like physical clutter, things that we don't use have a way of accumulating quickly if you aren't mindful.
Although my computer was really disorganized, my email situation was about 10x worse, if you can even imagine. I'm not quite at an "inbox zero" situation but I've made a lot of headway and feel much less anxiety about checking my messages.
1. As I mentioned above, set aside a block of time to start your initial organizing. I think having a clean inbox is probably going to be an on-going process.
2. Begin by going through your inbox and responding to any messages that you may have missed or forgotten. I am extremely guilty of looking at an email while I'm out and about and telling myself that I will get to it later.
3. Delete any messages that you no longer need. This may seem obvious but it's easy to say, "Well, I MIGHT need this some day." Be really critical here!
4. Now for the hard part- unsubscribe to all of that annoying junk mail! I knew that this would not be accomplished in one sitting but I make progress with it every day. I spent some time going through the "Social" and "Promotion" tabs in my Gmail account and started opening junk email and selecting the unsubscribe option. Even if you can manage only a few a day, you'll find that after a while, your email inbox is nowhere near as flooded as it once was. It is lovely to log in and see only the emails from actual people or from companies that I want to keep up with. The bonus part? Not being tempted to buy things you don't need every time there is a sale or promotion.
(In a previous blog on Personal Finance and Holistic Wellness, I mentioned the Unroll.me service. This site claims that it helps you to easily unsubscribe from unwanted email lists. However, I was informed by a kind reader that it really just prevents the emails from showing up in your inbox and doesn't actually unsubscribe you from the list. I think it can be helpful if you are really short on time, bit since then I've decided that I actually want to be removed from lists.)
After tackling my computer and my email, I felt unstoppable! Bring on my cell phone!
My mobile situation wasn't so bad. I took a few minutes to delete apps that I never used and group similar apps into folders.
As part of my digital clean-up (and while I still had momentum going) I also went through some of my social media programs to make sure that I was seeing only who and what I wanted to see. This included pairing down my Facebook friend list, curating my Instagram and Twitter follows, and making sure my LinkedIn connections were still relevant.
I know it sounds like a lot of work, but as I mentioned, once you get started, you'll find it gets easier to to keep up with. This process has made working a lot less stressful and I've made it a goal to manage these spaces regularly.
Do you have a process for keeping your digital life and online presence clean and uncluttered? I'd love to hear any tips, tricks, or resources you may have.