Running out of storage? It seems that everything is going digital, which has so many benefits! But does it feel overwhelming sometimes for you, too? Between screenshots, old documents, cords, and devices, digital clutter can really pile up. Use this checklist to start simplifying your digital life: stuff to get rid of now, part 2: digital clutter.
I wanted you to know about my series of guides to simplify your life one category at a time. If you missed Stuff to Get Rid of Now, Part One: Shoes and Clothing, visit now and Pin for later, then subscribe to the email list to get each one directly to your inbox.
Imagine a beautiful moment. Your kid is doing this super cute thing. Grab your phone and… “Storage is Almost Full”!
Blast! This has happened to me more often than I’d like to admit.
Digital stuff is so easy to hoard. I get freebie PDF docs and let them pile up on my computer. Screenshots are so handy and then I forget to delete them. And don’t get me started on photos and videos of my kids!
For a long time, I suffered from low-grade digital anxiety. If I could not find things I saved and I would nearly blow my stack because of a lost password or file I wanted. Embarrassing.
I was desperate for change. These are some of the exact steps I took to start simplifying digital life: stuff to get rid of now, part 2: digital clutter.
Stuff to Get Rid of Now: Digital Clutter
Your quickest wins to declutter your digital life are in recycling the things you do not need. Trash the stuff you don’t need right now. Be free!
Defrag/disk clean up
Check the process for your device, but the process to do a disk clean up or defrag could be just a few clicks away. This will sweep out the junk and give you your first quick win.
Like extra calories, we don’t need too many digital cookies either. Go in and delete your cookies for a digitally lighter load.
CD Roms or outdated software
My laptop does not have a slot for CDs. Need I say more? If you have a collection of CD ROM, out-dated software, or manuals, recycle or trash them. Ah, that feels nice.
Cords and cables
If you are over 25, I am comfortable placing bets that you have a stash of cords and cables somewhere that you have no earthy clue what they go to. Trash them. Here is a post at Big Green Purse about how to do it responsibly recycle old wires and cables.
Yay! You got to upgrade your phone. What about the old one? You do not need to keep it. If it is worth selling, get it listed today.
Is your old device still in excellent condition and can be donated? Here’s a link to an organization that refurbishes old phones for survivors or find one you like.
Old phones that do not work must be disposed of correctly. Check your local area for ways to recycle phones and devices safely and responsibly. Some places even buy old phones for parts – do a little research for places in your area.
Inviting Peace In
Visual clutter and quiet low-grade overwhelm can deteriorate our peace. Digital clutter can pull at our limited shares of attention, energy, and time. Invite peace back into your life by handling some of your digital clutter in the following ways.
Social media can get a little messy in more ways than one. There is so much that can be said about social media use, but let’s stick to digital clutter. If there is a social media outlet that you don’t use often, consider deactivating it and deleting the app (at least for now. It will be there if you want to come back).
If you are following groups, pages, people, and companies that do not serve you or make you feel anything less than peace, unfollow or leave the group.
Consider setting specific time limits, use an app if it will be helpful, and use social media intentionally and see how it makes you feel.
Internet home page
Have you ever open up the Internet to look up something important and then find yourself neck-deep in a bizarre story of a B-list celebrity and her relationships over the years? Only me?
Change your Internet browser landing page to help you avoid distractions and wasted time. Choose one that serves you and your goals by limiting distractions like ads and news headlines designed to grab attention.
Bookmarks and favorites
Take a few minutes and look at the Internet bookmarks and favorites you have set. Are there some old ones you don’t need anymore? Could they be named or organized better? Do you need to add some that will help you get to where you need to go faster?
Freshen up your bookmarks and favorites and declutter your Internet use.
Pinterest can be such a great tool. It’s a visual search engine, so it is a great place to go for recipes, crafty ideas, and problems to be solved. Not everyone has a secret hoarder’s lair in digital form on Pinterest, but when you know, you know.
Do you have Pins saved from 2011 that are no longer relevant (or even legit)? Are there boards for newborn nursery ideas saved for a child that is nearly as tall as you are now?
It is OK to delete pins and boards to serve your current life better.
A Little at Time
I started this list with some quick wins, like tossing old devices and CD ROMs, but some digital clutter can take some time to sort through. I encourage you to set a small amount of time to go through these next few digital hot spots daily or weekly.
In some cases, you can sort the items and delete them in chunks. But other times, you will want to go through each one individually to make a decision about what will stay and what will go. Take it a little at a time and soon enough you will meet your goal!
Delete old files that you don’t need anymore. Consider renaming some of the ones that you do need, so you can find them easily later or put them in folders if that helps clean them up.
Movies and music
Remember CDs? I had some and now I don’t. I got rid of them one way or another. We can get rid of digital media as well. With digital music and video we tend to hang onto it longer because it doesn’t take up a lot of space relatively.
If you have music and movies you don’t want anymore, let them go. I know you spent money on them, but that money is gone, so lighten your load and make room for the media you love. Delete.
I once had a dream that I had to go to the restroom, but I needed a password to get in and I could not remember it. It was a nightmare, but I think it was reflecting what I felt at the time about passwords.
I was managing probably several dozen usernames passwords daily between work and my personal business and it was a constant struggle to keep them safe, up-to-date, and remembered!
There are now several ways to keep yours secure and easy to use with password manager apps such a LastPass and Keeper, for example. Some people ad an app to manage it for them and others go analog and save it in a safe place on paper.
How ever you chose to do it, simplify your life by managing your usernames and passwords.
Manage the email lists to which you are subscribed. When you get an email you don’t want, open it, scroll to the bottom and click the link unsubscribe. Any reputable sender will include this. If they do not, block that email address.
Then sort your inbox by name or sender and delete all of the messages from that sender. Both of these actions should take you about one minute or less.
If you do this each time you check your email, over time your inbox will become much less cluttered. You may also use a free service like UnrollMe to make it even simpler.
Side note: I have an email list for my business that I would love for you to join, but only if you want to! I used to feel guilty about unsubscribing from email newsletters, but I don’t anymore. Here’s the thing, we pay to have email services, so it is important to keep our lists concise and limited to engaged subscribers – people who want our messages.
Unsubscribe. It will be OK!
These days we still need email. These days, we also hate email. It can be so overwhelming to see so many messages vying for our attention every time we open our inbox or in the way of the one we need. There are many ways to make your email inbox more manageable.
First, start by unsubscribing and deleting as I mentioned above.
Clear inbox clutter fast by sorting the messages by the sender. Then you can delete messages in chunks. For me, this helps because it helps with the decision process so I can take action faster.
Next, make it a habit to check, complete, and delete your emails regularly, daily, if possible.
Then, set up filters to usher new messages into folders and organize messages for specific actions. This article also at Lifehacker has some great tips to help. Find the right tools to serve your needs and put them into action.
Clean up your inbox to help declutter your digital life and invite peace in. We can do this!
I love screenshots. I grab images of things that interest me all the time. Sometimes I forgot to delete them. A trick I learned is to sort the camera roll to show all the screenshots and delete the ones not needed anymore. Having them organized together helps.
For the screenshots and notes that need to be saved, consider a service like Evernote to help organize them and make them available for use later.
Now that you have ditched the clutter, let’s get it organized and pretty so it can spark joy again.
Multiple email accounts
Do you have old email accounts that have cutesy names from your younger years that you haven’t accessed in a while? If you aren’t using them anymore, delete them.
If you are regularly using multiple email accounts, consider streamlining them and using just one (or two if you have a work email). Change your email address with businesses that need them and enjoy one place to house your emails.
Unused apps and programs
Have you ever downloaded an app, but now it does not get used much? Delete the ones you don’t need and use. Organize the ones that are staying into folders to clean up the visual clutter on your devices.
Document file folders
Take some time to put the files you need to save in folders named so you clearly know where to find them when you need them.
Last but not least, photos I love them. But I have so many. Digital photo organization can get out of control. It is so easy to take lots of pics and not do anything about them again.
To get your digital photos under control, get all your photos stored in one place and delete all duplicates. Sort your photos by date and then event. Next, delete any photos that you cannot identify, is blurry, someone’s head is missing, it is extremely unflattering, it is a screenshot, or some other photo grab just for informational purposes.
Then, back up your photos and then make a plan to go through your photos to get them into a sustainable system. The ladies at Memory Moment have great resources specifically for helping people to get resources to organize photos here.
To sum it up
There are so many benefits to going digital. But don’t let it overwhelm you. Get your digital clutter under control one day at a time using these four stages.
2. Invite in Peace
3. A Little at a Time
4. Tidying Up
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About the author, Jaime
Here at Altogether Mostly, you will find grace, compassion, joy, and beauty. I use empathy and a little tough love to bring out the best in people. I live in the Midwest United States with my loving husband and awesome children. For more about me and Altogether Mostly, please visit my about page here.