As much as I’ve tried to implement minimalism into each aspect of my life, after doing a decluttering challenge in January, I realized I had been ignoring one vital area—my digital space.
When it comes to my laptop and phone, I’m essentially a hoarder. I love to store and keep every note, photo, and file that I’ve ever created. Honestly, this isn’t due to sentimentality as much as it is forgetfulness. I haven’t made it a habit to review my files on my laptop, just like I review the items in my closet to see if they’re still useful to me.
I know that digital spaces can seem a little scary—I was quite nervous to tackle my own! I hope that you’ll find these 8 tips helpful when it comes time to declutter your devices!
Set a timer
It’s all too easy to say that you plan to organize the documents on your computer and then find yourself 2 hours later staring at old home videos of your childhood piano recital. My advice? Set a timer and start small—maybe even just 10 minutes! Knowing that you have a timer counting down will help you stay focused on the task at hand.
Choose a device
You may want to do an entire digital declutter, but it’s easiest to narrow that goal to help you successfully achieve it! Start by identifying just one device that you would like to declutter—maybe it’s your laptop, your home computer, your phone, or even a hard drive!
Break it down
Remember to start small! Choose an area of focus on a certain device that you’d like to begin with. I often find that tackling files first is easier than jumping right into decluttering photos because there are often more sentimental feelings attached to photos and videos. Start with just one area, and let that momentum carry you forward.
Create an organization system that works for you
Keep it simple! Choose clear labels that help you quickly identify where important files and photos are!
I adhere to this model of simplicity—my document folders all have concise labels describing what they are, and if they’re attached to a certain year or time frame, they are labelled with those details. I break down photos by year, and then by event or theme.
Get rid of duplicates
In the age of digital photos, I’ve often found that I have many digital duplicates of the same shot. Pare down your photo collection by getting rid of all those extras and only keeping your favourite one. Hint: If you printed off all these photos and stuck them in a photo album, would you want someone to look through 20 versions of the same photo?
How many apps do you really need?
The title of this section says it all folks—how many apps do you really need? I challenge you to see if you can find some that are no longer useful to you! Hint: If you haven’t opened the app in 3+ months, you probably don’t need it anymore!
Decluttering can be an overwhelming process, and digital decluttering is no different! This project may end up taking much longer than you originally thought, but if you break it down into manageable goals, it will be much easier to maintain! (Plus, I promise the upkeep of your new system will be much easier).
Just like physical decluttering, digital downsizing isn’t a one-and-done kind of job! Depending on how often and for what purpose you use your digital devices, I recommend revisiting your files to do a quick declutter every 3-4 months. As previously mentioned, the first time you do this, you will likely invest more time to accomplish your goals, but as you continue to refine your digital space over time, this process shouldn’t take you more than half an hour each time!
Have you tried a digital declutter?