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Digital Declutter: A Way To Get Your Digital Life in Order

Ruth Rawlings

Life’s complicated. Digital life – even more so. Over the past year, as most of us migrated a massive portion of our lives online, the two collided and made everything more complicated than we'd like it to be. As we continue to spend more time online, whether for work or leisure, we’ve been forced to realize that digital mess, much like the one in our physical lives, is a real thing. It can be overwhelming, stressful, and even anxiety-inducing. It can burn us out. So, today, let’s delve into simple and effective ways we can put our digital lives in order and give ourselves a little peace of mind in a time when we really need it.

What is digital clutter?

Put plainly, digital clutter is digital mess. Just think of your inbox filled with unread messages, your desktop filled with screenshots and outdated work-related files, or your phone infused with an embarrassing amount of apps you never really use. That is digital clutter, and we all know how it can make us feel. On a good day, we might ignore all the mess and carry on with other things. But there are days when it could be overwhelming to even look at your inbox, desktop, or phone.

Just like physical mess, digital disorganization can make your life unnecessarily complicated and stressful. But remember that feeling when you finally clean your home. It’s amazing. It makes you feel alive, motivated, and productive. The same applies to digital mess. Getting it all sorted tickles the same nerve endings responsible for all those good feelings.

Getting rid of that digital clutter

We’re human, and humans have a tendency to put things off. It’s as if we didn’t like dealing with stuff that makes us uncomfortable. Weird, isn't it? We all do it. But (you knew there had to be a “but” there) just a few hours of facing our own messiness can yield days upon weeks upon months and even years of reward.

So, without further ado, here are a few ways you can make your digital life less messy.

Clean your inboxes

Let’s face it: emails are a source of stress and distraction. It’s often the thing that gets in the way, especially when the inbox is filled with hundreds and thousands of unread, uncategorized messages. If your inbox is filled with emails you know you won’t open or read, filter them out and delete them all at once. Make sure to unsubscribe from any newsletters you no longer read. Consider setting up separate folders for any important emails, whether it's work-related matters or friends and family stuff. If possible, try setting aside 5 minutes each day to go through your inbox to stop it from filling up.

Ditch unused apps and accounts

Already done with that silly game, photo editor, or shopping app? What about those Instagram or Twitter accounts that you follow, which bring nothing of value and only induce FOMO? Well, unfollow these accounts and get rid of those apps once and for all. Otherwise, all they do is distract you with unwanted notifications, which, let’s be frank, can be a mood killer. On a smartphone, these apps are right there on your screen, so don’t put it off — just remove them.

Clean your desktop

Few things can ruin your day more than starting it by staring at a desktop cluttered with an embarrassing amount of random, unrelated stuff. It’s that uneasy feeling we get when we face our own mess. Nobody likes it. So, be ruthless: drag as many of those truly unused files as possible to the trash bin; get rid of that photo folder that has a hundred photos that are essentially the same. Any remaining stuff should be sorted by kind so you know what’s what. The same applies to your phone. Make it clean and easy to navigate for the best experience.

Turn off notifications

It would be great if it was possible to get rid of notifications altogether. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a fairytale. Today, and for the foreseeable future, dealing with an overwhelming amount of notifications is our destiny. But it’s us who are in charge of what notifications can disrupt us on a daily basis. So, carefully examine which notifications are actually worth your time and attention. Do you really need to know all about Taylor Swift’s day or that a new makeup tutorial was uploaded to YouTube? Of course, it’s up to you. But understand that minimizing the number of notifications that you receive on a daily basis will allow you to sidestep unwanted distractions and will help you stay on track throughout your day.

Time management

For a stress-free experience online, we need to take time management seriously. It’s too true that our online lives heavily influence our mental health. It affects how we see ourselves, others, and the world in general. And, in any case, too much of anything is never a good idea. Think of skipping irrelevant zoom calls to avoid getting into too many meetings. Plan your online activities, whether it's for work or leisure. There are great apps that can help you do that such as DeskTime. If you like taking the hardcore approach, consider putting a hard cap on how much time you can spend online altogether.

Boost your cybersecurity

Online security is stressful. No one can deny that. It seems that the more technology advances, the more dangers lurk out there. It’s getting increasingly challenging to stay secure. And then there are passwords, which are the first line of defense of our favorite online accounts. But keeping track of them all is a challenge. Think of how many times you were frustrated – probably beyond frustrated – when you were asked to reset or change your password.

The best way to improve your overall online security and tame those annoying passwords is by using a password manager such as NordPass. Not only does it store all your passwords in a single place and allows you to quickly access them on multiple devices, but it also allows you to check whether any of them are weak, old, or compromised. Finally, with a password manager, you will never have to type another password again as all your login details can be filled with just a few clicks.

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