Why It Pays to Declutter Your Digital Life
The world is messy and chaotic. That is okay. It’d be a pretty boring place if we all lived fully controlled, completely regimented lives with no surprises. But, while we can’t govern everything happening around and to us, we can occasionally bring some welcome order to our lives.
Do you live joyfully?
Is there anyone who doesn’t know Marie Kondo? If you don’t know her, Marie helps people all over the world declutter their houses with her world famous KonMari method. And people say that by removing the clutter from their houses, they also remove it from their minds.
How does it work? To start, you need to explore your house, touch all the things you see one by one and ask yourself - does it bring joy? If not - throw it away. The main idea of Marie’s philosophy is that by changing your home, you free yourself from useless experiences and emotions.
The simplicity and clarity of Marie’s advice can turn your world upside-down. She seems to resonate with people by bringing them order, clarity, and freedom. As a result, people happily began getting rid of the clutter and sharing this news with others on social networks. Yeah, decluttering is trendy! And we can apply it to our digital life too.
Anonymous clutterholics. Session 1
Just recently I found myself with:
29 tabs pinned in the browser
24 apps ready for update on my Mac
1,800 unread emails
4,339 items in my Downloads folder
I am not sure why this happened, but if Marie Kondo goes digital with her approach, I’ll probably be the best example of the worst behavior. Well, there are perhaps more prominent examples…
Once upon a time, a 47-year old Dutch man turned up to a hospital for help with treating his hoarding behaviour. Psychiatrists diagnosed him with the digital version of hoarding. The man used to take up to 1,000 photos a day and spend hours processing them. There were mainly landscape photos, many similar ones, but the man found it hard to discard them. He used four external hard drives for backups and four more for original photos. He lived in this digital clutter for some time until he realized he had a problem and was brave enough to ask for help.
Although this example is extreme, maybe we should all think about space, time and energy sucking clutter in our digital life to get everything in order.
How did we get here?
An SD card on a modern Android smartphone can store much more data than a computer's hard drive ten years ago. Out of space? You don’t need to delete anything, just replace the old 64GB SD card with a new, faster and more capacious one - 128GB. It’s not too expensive. And if you have an iPhone, all you need to do is to choose the device with the biggest storage capacity.
I’ve never really thought of myself as a hoarder. But, looking at all these downloads, tabs and emails possibly from the last century... What’s the difference? Our lives are digital as well, so we have no excuse to mire in online rubbish. Ask yourself, do you really need this email your old boss sent you three years ago to remind you about a task on the project that was closed two years previously?
It’s time to admit it: digital clutter is as dangerous as the physical stuff. It poses significant digital security threats and makes your devices vulnerable to hacker attacks. Moreover, it also clutters our minds and prevents us from thinking clearly.
Anonymous clutterholics. Session 2
This is your digital life, and you need to keep it in some semblance of order as well. Rather than waiting for Marie Kondo, let’s try and work out what you need to do to get decluttering right now.
Remove it from your desktop
Treat your desktop like your home. Keep it clean. There’s no reason for a bunch of unused folders - find a more suitable place for them. Minimize.
List aloud all the documents you have
And delete the ones you forgot. If there are some documents you use once a year, and can’t do without, then archive and remove from your shortcuts.
Revise all the apps installed
We try hard to keep our personal lives private, but somehow neglect our digital privacy. Remember that almost all apps have access to data stored on our devices. If you don’t know how an app works - remove it. And remember: you don’t need three apps for the same purpose. If you have four video players, then delete three of them.
P.S. Only deleting the app shortcut is cheating!
How many promotional emails do you receive each day? Sometimes we don’t even remember subscribing for some updates. Think about what you really want to receive - discounts from the shop around the corner or maybe sales announcements from big brands? You decide, but it’s usually no more than a couple of sources. Pick your essentials and unsubscribe from the rest.
You don’t need all those photos
I’m sure you don’t need all those photos of great breakfasts from five years ago. Let’s clear space for fresh memories!
And discard duplicates!
Delete bookmarks you don’t need
As simple as that! You shouldn’t bookmark any website you visit less than once per week.
Remove cache and cookies
This is the data your browser stores to speed up website loading. Clean it out on a monthly basis and browse happily.
Organize your cloud storage
If you moved everything I asked you to delete above to your Drive or Dropbox - c’mon, man! That’s just shuffling stuff about. Kondo it! Apply the same decluttering principles we applied to the hard drive to your cloud storage. Don’t move your trash from one room to another.
Find a place for your downloads
Download then find a place. If no place can be found - delete!
Welcome to your clutter-free life! Try being mindful of these simple rules. Start thinking twice before downloading yet another app, always delete random duplicates, and organize your information regularly. Your digital well-being is your responsibility.
Do you want to know more on how to keep your digital life secure? Check out our recent blog post.
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