I’ve been working on a photo book project these past few weeks. It prompted me to finally take control and start to simplify my digital life.
They are in the cloud, on my smartphone, on my external hard drive, on my husband’s smartphone, and on our digital camera.
And so many of them are duplicates!
This frustration I’ve had with my photos is only the tip of the iceberg though.
I have a lot of digital stuff that I have been accumulating, and I’ve been shoving it all onto external hard drives to keep it *organized*.
Out of sight, out of mind right?
It’s like having that scary cupboard in the hallway.
The one where you shove everything in and you just pray you never need to open it because the avalanche of stuff might just crush you as it comes tumbling down.
It happens so quickly!
I’ve reached the point where I’m reviewing my digital habits and simplifying my digital life, as I’ve been doing in my physical and mental spaces.
Defining digital clutter
The main reason you’d want to declutter your digital life is so that you can get time back to spend on more important areas of your life.
Digital clutter complicates our lives, it slows us down (not in a good way) and it impacts our productivity. Similar to physical possessions, it’s anything which requires maintenance, distracts us and demands our attention all the time.
With the amount of information available online, and the ease of sharing documents and files between computers, it is not surprising that our computers quickly become cluttered with all types of digital files.
We become slaves to the notifications and the pings which constantly clamour for our attention. We get sucked into social media. We struggle to go through an entire meal without looking at something on our phones.
We have become digital consumers who rather receive than take action.
And here’s the thing: Digital clutter becomes mental clutter.
Instead of making life better, technology can imprison you, unless you simplify your digital life.
Start to simplify your digital life
We all have different tolerance levels.
Our interpretation of what a minimalist lifestyle looks like is different for everyone. The same goes for our interpretation of digital minimalism.
I get stressed out when I have more than 20 unread emails in my inbox. They bother me until I take care of them. You might be able to handle more!
So start off by first spending some time reflecting on your digital habits.
- Do you *organize* your digital life by moving stuff from one location to another?
- Do you find you have to keep buying more storage, cloud space or external hard drives?
- Do have an inbox full of newsletters or coupons or specials that you never read?
- How much time do you spend on social media?
What digital stuff takes up mental space in your life?
If you have the goal of reducing digital clutter, you need to change your habits otherwise you will always have the same problem.
Understanding your current habits and behaviors makes it possible to choose different actions instead.
Habits to Simplify your Digital Life
Here are a few things that you can consider as you simplify your digital life
- Check email at a set time each day when you have the motivation to take action and deal with it
- Keep your desktop clean, if you do need files there, keep them in folders
- Have less folders but make them bigger, and use the search facility to find your files
- Remove Social Media apps from your smartphone (take it for a test-drive, you can always add them back again)
- Delete bookmarks of sites you don’t regularly visit, if you need to find something you can always google it!
- Permanently delete files in your bin at the end of the week
- Likeways, clear your downloads folder at the end of the week
- Move the best photos you want to keep from your smartphone to the cloud or external drive once a month and delete them from your phone
- Remove notifications, they only serve to distract you and feed on your FoMO
- Leave your smartphone at the door with your keys when you get home
- Disconnect for at least one day a week
- Unsubscribe from marketing newsletters you don’t value every 6 months
- Try for Inbox Zero if that interests you
- Create a separate email account for “junk”, use this to sign up for marketing newsletters
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There are better ways to relax
Many of us have the habit of relaxing with our phones after a long day. I used to “relax” like this a lot of the time.
But in reality, going down the internet rabbit hole only adds to our mental clutter.
It was painted so clearly for me when, on a recent holiday, I had no cell reception and I also had no access to the internet.
I left my phone in my bag for the 4 days we were there. What I found surprising was the sense of freedom I felt of not being constantly pulled by my phone.
I have been chasing that feeling again, but I have not really before changed my habits that leads me to feeling not-free.
So as I am developing new habits to simplify my digital life, I hope that this post inspires you to simplify yours too.