Digital Decluttering For Digital Hoarders

Do you have collections of things like photos and files and little mementos that evoke fond memories? I’ve always been a collector of things, especially when they have sentimental value.

Sometimes a collection can get out of control if you don’t trim it and organise it. If it becomes an overwhelming hoard it can cause stress and mental exhaustion. However, it’s usually difficult to see the hoard of digital clutter when it’s tucked away in your hard drive, photo gallery, archived files and all of those forgotten USB sticks stashed in the junk drawer of your kitchen/desk/storeroom.

It’s a good idea to regularly de-clutter the digital storage locations of your life, otherwise it becomes more difficult to store and locate the things that you need in your life. Think of how long it takes for your computer to search through large amount of data. As you add more data, more processing will be required to sort through the data.

Tip 1: Unsubscribe

There is no need to stay subscribed to marketing emails if they are just cluttering up your inbox. When you find yourself deleting the marketing emails instead of actually opening and engaging with them, that is a good time to locate the Unsubscribe button. Each email you receive in your inbox takes up time and mental effort from another task. Make your email inbox work for you by setting up filters for certain emails. You can also create all different folders in your inbox to sort your emails and make it easier to locate important information. For example, I have a folder for any emails that contain details and documents required for my next tax return. That way, when tax time comes around, I just open the folder and then I have what I need to fill out my tax return, including receipts and invoices to be claimed back.

Tip 2: Cull photos

Now that we no longer have to print each photo we take just to view it, it becomes easier to take more photos of the same thing. I know I have a lot of duplicate images, some more in-focus than others, so it’s easy to delete the duplicates without worrying about losing any information. Delete your blurry photos and any duplicate images that aren’t useful to future-you. Make sure to cull the photos in your phone, computer, tablet and any other photo storage locations. Even if you are removing the photos from your gallery and transferring them to a cloud-based storage location you should still consider de-cluttering the photos saved on the cloud. First, it will be much easier to look back through the photos once you’ve condensed your collection to just the meaningful images. Second, storing data on the cloud doesn’t mean the data isn’t taking up space anymore, it’s just not taking up space on your PC or phone. The cloud actually stores the data in a physical location which takes up space. The virtual storage space is not infinite so there are concerns about where we will fit all our data in the future, as all the data just keeps piling up every day.

Tip 3: Organise your Computer Desktop (or phone homepage)

When you’re at your computer, do you save all of the new files to your desktop? And is your desktop now so full you can’t fit anything else or find what you need? We all know someone who has all of those icons filling up the desktop so that you can’t even see the background image.

First, make sure that the files you save are saved to a meaningful location. You can make your own folders within folders to sort everything! Then when you need to locate the file again and you’ve forgotten which folder it’s in, you can search the entire PC or the approximate file location and the path to the desired file will be revealed. And the search won’t take as long because you’ve already decluttered all the blurry and duplicate photos that were clogging up the memory on the hard drive.

On your phone homepage you don’t need to store all of the icons for all of the apps. Just select the handful of apps that you constantly open up and only add those shortcut icons to the homepage. Or you can even find a widget or 2 for your homepage to help you out and increase productivity. For example, I use a note taking widget that I have pinned to my homepage that shows me all of my latest To Do tasks and reminders at a glance. I no longer need to write reminders on scraps of paper or the back of my hand!

Tip 4: Delete obsolete documents and uninstall programs

Just like keeping all your old school work, it can be tempting to keep all of the essays and reports you wrote for those undergrad university assignments. But what if I need to refer back to it later?! Sure, if there are documents and topics that are related to your career, hobby or important life event then you can store them in a way that makes it easy to locate and sort through the information, eg. In folders or in an app. But if you’re just keeping your first year chemistry assignments because you’re proud of them then it’s time to let go, be proud of the memory of your time at university. You can keep the graduation certificate but not the assignment about valence electrons.

Any old programs and apps that you’re no longer using on your computer and phone can easily be uninstalled in a few clicks. Be careful about uninstalling programs on your computer if you don’t know what they do. One time when I was just a teenager I thought I’d declutter my slow PC by uninstalling some programs I didn’t need. Alas, I deleted the sound card drivers and had to restore my computer to a previous date to fix my mistake. What a n00b.

Thanks so much for reading. I hope you found this content useful. If you’d like to show your support please subscribe to my Youtube Channel. And feel free to reply in the comments with your digital decluttering tips!

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