As of right now, my phone has almost 10,000 photos on the camera roll, at least 500 unread emails, and who knows how many apps that I’ve opened maybe once. Yikes. It's time for me to schedule a digital decluttering session.
When you think about decluttering, you probably think about it in the sense of organizing stuff in your home and tossing out the things you don’t need. It’s important to keep your living space clutter-free, but it's also important to take some time to sort through your digital pile of photos, files, and apps.
Here are six tips you can use to help declutter your devices and keep them organized.
Why Should You Do A Digital Declutter?
2020 has been a weird year. Most of us have been spending a lot more time than usual online and on our phones, whether it’s because we’re working from home or we’re just bored. As a result, we probably all have more digital clutter in our lives than ever before.
In my experience, decluttering and organizing your files and photos will help you feel less overwhelmed. It’s so nice to open up your laptop or unlock your phone and not see tons of random files and apps all over the place.
Cleaning out your devices will also help you be more productive. Once you organize your files and delete the junk you don’t need, it’ll be easier than ever to find those important documents you need for work or college.
Digital Decluttering Tip #1: Clean Up Your Desktop And Home Screen
The first thing you typically see when you open your computer or unlock your phone is your desktop or home screen. Go ahead and delete everything in those areas that you don’t need. This includes random files, apps you aren’t using, and anything else that isn’t necessary.
This is a great place to start when you’re doing a digital declutter. Once you’ve cleaned up your desktop and home screen, you’ll immediately feel better. Trust me.
Digital Decluttering Tip #2: Create A System For Naming Files
There’s nothing worse than opening up a folder on your computer and seeing a bunch of untitled files when you’re looking for something specific. Coming up with a standard format for naming your files will make your life so much easier. It’ll also make your digital files look more clean and uniform.
Here are a few examples:
- Date (YYYYMMDD)_ProjectName_YourName.docx
- Date (YYYYMMDD)_ProjectName_ProfessorName_YourName.docx
- Date (YYYYMMDD)_PhotoSubject.jpg
Make sure you stick to your chosen format. Every time you download or create a new file, name it according to your system.
Digital Decluttering Tip #3: Audit Your Files
This is a tedious process. It’s necessary and worth it in the long run, though. Once you’ve cleared out your desktop and home screen (Go you!) and decided how you’ll name your files, it’s time to tackle the rest of the stuff on your device.
Block out a few hours of your time to go through the files on your computer, on your Google Drive, and anywhere else you store digital content. Delete all of the random files you don’t need and decide whether or not the ones you’ve been holding onto for years are worth keeping. Do you really need to keep that essay from your freshman year composition class? Probably not.
While you’re auditing your files, go ahead and rename the files you decide to keep so they’ll match up with your new naming system.
Digital Decluttering Tip #4: Audit Your Photos
If you have 10,000 pictures on your phone like I do, sorting through them can seem overwhelming. I’ve found the easiest way to tackle decluttering your photos is by working through them in chunks. I sometimes go through a month’s worth of photos in one decluttering session. I might go for a year if I have the time.
Ensure you delete duplicates, random screenshots, and any other photos you don’t really think are worth keeping. If you want to take it a step further, you can organize your photos into folders or assign certain tags to them.
Auditing and organizing your photos will clear up space on your device. It’ll also make it much easier to find that one specific photo you took on your trip to Mexico next time you’re talking about it at a party.
Digital Decluttering Tip #5: Manage Your Email Subscriptions
Last month, I realized I had over 8,000 emails sitting in my inbox. Most of them were random newsletters or sales ads I had subscribed to over the last few years.
I spent a day (literally an entire day) unsubscribing from most of those email lists and deleting the old emails. I’m still subscribed to a few that I think are worthy of taking up space in my inbox. Most of them were just full of junk I didn’t need, though.
If you’re overwhelmed by the number of messages in your inbox, check to see what you’re subscribed to. Decide which newsletters or ads you want to keep receiving. Then, unsubscribe from the ones that don’t add value to your life in any way. Make sure you delete the old messages after unsubscribing. Those newsletters and sales emails take up a ton of real estate.
Digital Decluttering Tip #6: Schedule A Regular Decluttering Session
The easiest way to stay on top of keeping your devices clutter-free is by cleaning them up regularly. Set aside a block of time every week or every month to sift through your files and photos.
Don’t just tell yourself that you’ll do it, though. If you want to make sure your decluttering session actually happens regularly, write it down in your planner or put it on your calendar.
Use your designated decluttering time to delete the files and photos you don’t need, rename your files to make them easier to find, and make sure your devices are generally organized.
Conclusion: Decluttering Your Devices Will Make Your Life Easier!
There’s obviously lots more you can do to keep your devices in order that I didn’t include on this list, but I think these tips will give you a great place to start. I promise you’ll feel so much more organized and productive once you get a handle on your digital clutter!