As our world becomes increasingly more digital, I have recently been prompted to do some digital decluttering. I briefly touched on this topic in 2017, but in 2020 I think the subject deserves a post of its own.
What is digital decluttering and why should we do it?
Digital decluttering is not unlike decluttering your home or workspace. Frankly, we just keep so much stuff on our devices and online accounts. One might even argue that our devices are where our most important things are kept. From a sentimental perspective, my most treasured photos of my nearest and dearest are all stored digitally.
In addition to this, because so much of our day-to-day lives are spent online, it’s how we all communicate with one another. This quickly leads to a lot of stuff becoming accumulated on our devices. From receipts for purchases made months or even years ago, apps we downloaded and used once, to pictures of our driver’s licenses – it’s all there and it’s not going anywhere unless we do something about it. (On a side note, I cannot tell you the number of times I have taken the same exact photo of my drivers license as a proof of ID for someone, because I couldn’t be bothered to scroll through 2000 photos on my iPhone to find the last one I took.)
Finally, so much of our mental energy is consumed by scrolling through our social media feeds. We are literally bombarded every day with so much meaningless information. I often feel like I don’t have even have the attention span to read a caption on Instagram, let alone watch someones story. For these reasons, this is why I believe digitally decluttering is so important. Cleanse the mind, soothe the soul – delete some stuff and click unfollow.
Digital Decluttering: How To
Everyone is different but the below is what I have found works personally for me. Pick a place to start and get decluttering!
ORGANISE YOUR PHOTOS
I am super particular about this and have spent a long time developing a filing system to organise all of my photos. I regularly back up my photos from my iPhone to my computer and like to organise them by year and date. You may not feel the need to be quite so meticulous about this though, which is totally fine. I do recommend backing up your photos regularly though and also going through and deleting the ones you don’t need. I don’t know about you, but when I take a photo of something or someone, I usually end up taking about 20. If this is you, keep one or two good ones and delete the rest.
DELETE PHONE APPS
As mentioned above, make a habit of going through your apps and deleting the ones you don’t use. The storage feature on your smartphone should give you a breakdown of what apps are taking up the most space on your device and the last time you used them.
BIN OLD EMAILS AND CLICK UNSUBSCRIBE
Go through your emails and delete all of the ones you no longer need. Especially those pesky marketing emails from shopping websites and supermarkets. Make sure you click unsubscribe on the ones you no longer want to receive as well, otherwise you’re just going to end up with more. It takes a bit of time, but looking at a clean inbox is well worth it in my opinion. File away any emails you want to keep – personal ones, bills etc. and start fresh.
AUDIT YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA
The thing about social media accounts is, unless you get rid of them, they kind of just…exist. This can be embarrassing (especially if you had a MySpace account as a teenager and left cOmMeNtS lIke tHIs~). So, make sure you do an audit and delete any old accounts you don’t use. Twitter, Flickr and Lookbook are just a few examples of accounts you may have forgotten about.
Furthermore, I strongly encourage you to take a close look at what is currently posted on the social media that you do use. A lot of us have had our Instagram accounts for close to 10 years and Facebook accounts even longer. A lot can change in a decade, particularly our lifestyles and relationships. Do yourself a favour and untag yourself and/or delete those photos with your ex and maybe double-check there aren’t any embarrassing party snaps you don’t want a potential employer or cool new friends to see. For privacy reasons I personally prefer that my whole life isn’t documented on my social media. That’s why I have a public blog, it’s way more private…
Go through your friends list on Facebook and unfriend that mutual friend of a friend you met once at a party 5 years ago. Or that guy that keeps posting his misinformed political views. Or that girl who incessantly promotes her extremely niche small business. Same goes for Instagram. I just recently went through my following list and there were so many inactive accounts that I hadn’t even noticed had stopped posting.
In addition to this, the Instagram algorithm can make it really difficult for you to actually see the updates you want to. A good idea is to unfollow brand accounts, they often post multiple times a day and most of the time it’s just advertising. That and I strongly recommend actually going through your following list and looking at each account. If the content isn’t inspiring to you, unfollow. I was following a lot of influencers that just weren’t producing content I deemed worth my time who were clogging up my feed. We are bombarded with too much useless information as it is, so if you can reduce any of it, do it. Make space for the important stuff.
The above are just some of the ways you can start your digital declutter. There are, of course, more extreme measures you can take if you’re willing and have the time. Speaking of time, I would like to emphasize that if you’re going to attempt a digital declutter, it will take a bit of time. It can be really tedious actually, which I think is a big reason why so many of us don’t do it. To lessen the load, try to do a small amount of digital decluttering a day until you start to notice a difference. Digital decluttering consistently is the aim, like throwing away old clothes or cleaning out your car it is something that has become a necessity in this day and age. Try not to leave it too long between cleans!