You might be feeling like you need to declutter your digital life, especially after the natural build-up from the past year of work, school, and socialization existing almost exclusively online. The number of realms that our life seems to exist on the internet these days can get out of hand quite quickly, and after a certain point, you realize that you’re feeling really overwhelmed by the digital expanse that sits before you. Don’t worry, we got you covered. Read on to learn how to declutter your digital life when it seems unmanageable.
Your email inbox is likely the locus of important messages, Zoom invitations, and a flurry of other things asking for your attention. A great way to start decluttering is to get rid of all your unread messages (easier said than done), clear out your junk mail, and clean out your flagged messages. I am confident that there are plenty of messages that you’ve flagged that no longer need to be highlighted. Note: keep anything that you might actually need later on like emails from professors or school codes and passwords. This is especially important if you are considering applying to grad school one day.
Next, you need to unsubscribe from at least half of the companies that send you emails. Every time you order something online, you somehow get signed up for the email list. This is unnecessary. Sure, maybe you want to see when your favorite few stores are having a sale, but do you really need to get twenty emails a day from every online retailer you’ve ever purchased from? No. Hit that unsubscribe button.
Cleaning out your apps is a pretty quick and easy way to declutter your digital life. Just swipe through your phone and delete anything you no longer use. Having a photo editor is nice, but you definitely don’t use all of those editing apps. Do you really need to have every video streaming app known to man? Clean it up.
Although it is a daunting task, sifting through your social media is absolutely necessary in the quest to declutter your digital life. First, decide which social media sites and profiles you actually want to keep. A big source of stress for the modern-day human is the vast number of ways in which we are connected digitally, so if there are fewer ways you can be connected, it will actually be better for you. Plus, the more you plug in to, the harder it is to manage everything.
Second, go through old photos on sites like Instagram and Facebook. Middle school might have had some good memories, but is it serving you to be tagged in all of those photos? Do you really need that picture of your breakfast from 2012 on Instagram? Not really. Keep the memories, pair down the padding. You only want the good stuff anyway.
Next, clear out old Twitter posts, Facebook posts, Facebook likes, people you listed as *sister* when you were thirteen, and other profile bulk. Especially on sites like Facebook and Twitter, it is important to consider that future and/or current employers could come across anything you leave up. Do you really want them to see that you like ‘walks on the beach’ and ‘balloon animals’ on Facebook, or read those snarky tweets you posted about your ex-best friend? Not really. Get rid of all the bands you liked to impress that one guy while you’re at it.
Starting with your desktop screen(s), delete everything you don’t need and then combine anything you can into folders so you can actually see your background. On my quest to declutter my digital life, I even went so far as to make one folder entitled ‘clutter from my desktop,’ and then proceeded to put all of my other desktop folders inside of it. Makes a huge difference, let me tell you. Everything feels much more managed.
Next, go through your bookmarks, both in the bookmarks bar and in other bookmarks. Clear out anything you don’t use, and can’t see yourself using in the near future. You likely won’t have the same computer for more than ten or maybe fifteen years anyway, right? So don’t hang on to things you don’t actively use. Sure, you might like Victoria’s Secret underwear, but if you don’t buy it every single day (I don’t recommend this), you don’t need to bookmark the page. Just Google it next time you need underwear.
The same applies to your apps and the icons in your dock. Remove anything that’s just taking up visual space or digital memory on your computer, tablet, etc.
Going through old messages is a challenging task, but you need to do it in order to declutter your digital life. Unfortunately, you can easily get sucked into whatever drama was happening way back when. It’s fun to see what was up with your friends a few years ago, but refrain from scrolling as much as possible. You’re here to delete any old conversations that don’t need to be taking up memory, like those three flings and one high school boyfriend you haven’t talked to in three years, so don’t dwell. Just delete. This step in how to declutter your digital life applies to your phone messages, and also any other messaging apps you may use like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
Just make sure to hang on to your conversations with people like your mom, your partner, and other people who you might talk to on a regular basis. It could be useful to scroll through those messages in the future, especially if they sent you important passwords, addresses, codes, etc.
The very last and the very worst task you must complete in order to declutter your digital life is to go through the photos on your phone and/or computer, tablet, etc. Just like in real life when pictures pile up in bins that you never end up looking at, digital photos can get VERY out of hand without you realizing it. Still, there they are, just taking up space.
I hate going through my photos because I can be very sentimental and start reminiscing instead of deleting, and thus it ends up taking forever. You’ve been forewarned. Your best bet is to try and enjoy the process, so put on some music and start purging those memories you just don’t need to immortalize. It’s okay to let a third of those vacation photos go.
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