Get rid of digital clutter

When you wade through your junk at home there’s a very palpable sense that you need to do some cleaning, but few people recognize the exact same need for their digital clutter, too.

Woman spring cleaning her computer

Spring
clean your digital life

When you wade through your junk at home, there’s a very palpable sense that you need to do some cleaning, but few people recognise the exact same need for their digital clutter, too.

For many of us, our lives are ruled by our phones, computers and tablets. They tell us how far we’ve walked, what our plans are for the week, what we need to buy and where our children are. If they’re also telling us the same information about our friends and about David and Victoria Beckham, perhaps its time to release ourselves from this electronic bedlam and start a new digital life, one that’s streamlined, efficient and much easier to navigate.

For many people, this can be a daunting task, and it’s difficult to know where to start. We’ve broken it down for you so you can take it step by step and do your digital spring cleaning as simply as possible.

Your desktop

If your desktop background is barely visible through the swarm of programs on there, perhaps it’s time for a clean. Fortunately, cleaning your desktop (be it on your computer, phone or tablet) is a fairly easy process and will achieve remarkable results since it actually just involves you deleting stuff you don’t use. This means your systems will run faster and smoother and you’ll be less bogged down by having to sift through applications you don’t actually use.

Don’t be gentle about this — if you really need an app, you’ll soon discover it and be able to download it again.

Your documents

If you’ve got “My Pictures”, “My Videos”, “My Music”, “My Downloads” and almost everything else, what exactly do you need to put in “My Documents”? Writing? Don’t you publish that on your blog, anyway? The truth is that many of us could do away with the My Documents folder, but we remain bizarrely attached to its ill-defined and, frankly, spam-friendly charms.

You don’t have to go as far as deleting the folder altogether, but it’s a good idea to just take a look over it and put the correct files in the correct folders. You’ll find that much of what you’re left with isn’t of much use to you.

And while you’re sorting your documents, just take a look through your photos. Do you really need 20 of that same paella in Spain?

For more computer cleaning, check out this tool, which will sort through your unwanted programs and documents in minutes.

Music

There’s no doubt that the digital age has made music hoarders out of all of us. We won’t delete that Tom Jones song from our library just in case it needs to be cracked out at a party, and we certainly won’t be getting rid of the last Spice Girls album — too many memories attached.

Fortunately for you, programs like Spotify can help you to organise your mess. You can download Spotify for free and it will make your musical life so much easier by collating your own collection with millions of online tracks. That means almost all songs are instantly available and, if by chance the spring-cleaning spirit really takes over, you can delete some of your more questionable albums from your library because you can just find them again on Spotify.

Email

Email is an essential part of all of our lives, both professionally and personally. For that reason, and many others, we often have several email accounts. This can be frustrating and time-consuming when you’re trying to catch up with emails. Learn how to manage multiple accounts efficiently — it’ll save you a lot of time or get rid of accounts you never look at.

With emails in future, try to be discerning with what you need and don’t need. Only keep emails in your inbox that are work-in-progress or that you want to be reminded of daily. Otherwise, put them in an archive folder. There’s a great method called InboxZero for cleaning up your emails and working more efficiently. Be sure to check it out.

Social networks

There are apps to help you manage your accounts in one place, such as TweetDeck and HootSuite, but the real problem with having a lot of social media profiles isn’t so much posting new stuff as it is getting rid of old stuff and updating.

Take a look at all your profiles. Important ones like LinkedIn are often ignored, meaning those looking for you professionally often receive a different impression of you than they should. Blogs are similarly neglected over long periods and should be kept up-to-date with the latest information. This will make CV writing easier in the future, too.

With other networks, such as Facebook, it’s important to review your profile, but it’s more important to go through your photos, likes and friends and be ruthless. If your newsfeed is constantly full of advertising that feels irrelevant to you, it might be down to that spree of liking things that you went on. Ask yourself if you’re seriously interested in the Twilight films and need the world to see that, or if it was just a phase. If it was a phase, don’t hesitate to “unlike” it as it has an effect on your user experience and potential employers will also have access to it.

Similarly with photos, you should only keep the ones that are uncompromising, can’t be misconstrued and, of course, that you look good in. Spend a short amount of time looking through your photos and simply untag yourself if you feel like the photo doesn’t represent how you’d like to be seen. Again, always remember that a prospective employer could find your photos.

There’s also a great tool called Trovebox that syncs your Facebook, Instagram, Flickr and more, meaning you can keep one tidy photo album to check when you’re feeling nostalgic.

As far as the famous Facebook friend cull goes, we’ll leave that to you. Just remember, you can always hide updates from people who you don’t want to hear about.

More spring cleaning and organisation tips

Quick cleaning tips for busy mums
31-Day spring clean checklist
Declutter the playroom

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