Today we’re tackling cleaning in another sense – a sense that’s suuuuuper relevant and necessary for me, and I’m sure for many of you, too! I’m a bit late on the spring cleaning so, Summer Cleaning ONLINE. A digital detox, if you will. With seemingly endless amounts of megabytes and gigabytes and terabytes, it all adds up…photos, videos, documents, notes, programs, THE WORKS. And it takes up space on our gadgets! Outside from any tangible things taking up space for us digitally, there’s the general clutter that just naturally builds up as we follow folks online and go about our everyday online lives. Spring cleaning here we come – time for a much-needed digital detox to make space on our tech and in our minds.
De-clutter your desktop.
If you’re like me, you’ve got one hundred and one tabs open on your phone and your computer at any given moment. OK, I lied – one hundred and two. So chances are, you might not even know what’s saved as a shortcut on your desktop at this point.
If you’ve got things saved as shortcuts that you don’t even KNOW, let alone use…delete. And consider what would be good/productive/useful instead to be shortcut in its place. The idea of quick shortcuts to your most-used programs, folders and websites is actually a brilliant one, so use it to your advantage! I also have a folder on my desktop called “TO DELETE” where I save things for a short period time and I can easily remember to go empty the folder later when I’m finished.
If it no longer inspires, motivates, or serves you a purpose, don’t be afraid to hit “unfollow” and let it go. We become most like what we surround ourselves with (actually, statistically speaking, we become like the 5 people we spend the most time around. #FunFact). Is your Instagram feed full of mindless fluff right now? Do you find yourself just aimlessly scrolling without liking or commenting on any posts? Are you less inspired and just more bored by the content you’re seeing daily? If so, unfollow.
And then – find a few new faces to follow, intentionally. Find some feeds that make you feel oh so good. Whether they make you laugh, smile, or just feel that metaphorical breath of fresh air because they’re just so dang *beautiful*.
Save things to clouds.
Really, I’m just the worst at this, I know this. People have been telling me to save things in multiple places since the 7th grade but I’m a hard learner. Stop what you’re doing right now (or after reading this post, it’s cool) and save. to. cloud. Any important documents – scan them and save to cloud. Any work papers or presentations – up to the cloud. ESPECIALLY any photos, videos, etc – cloud it all! I know I tend to forget that technology is not actually invincible, and after a few too many unexpectedly dead laptops or blatant save mishaps with lost information, I realized it’s memories. Memories are worth that extra step to send up to cyberspace!
iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive…save things somewhere that’s backed up by a bigger system. Unlike a USB drive, that can get batted around in your purse and lost until 2022.
Clear out your camera roll.
Currently: 10,820 photos, 1,014 videos. I mean, yes, I’m a blogger, so this kinda sorta makes sense? But is it also kinda sorta crazy? You bet. One of the tasks I like to tackle on flights or long drives (when I’m a passenger obviously!) is my camera roll. I start scrolling through to clear out and delete…and it’s great. The last time I did this, I found 63 attempts at the same picture before the one that actually became “the one” – so they got the boot.
Doing a solid scroll-through will also make you realize how many random screenshots you’ve got packed in there – SO much that can be cleared out.
ALSO, make folders and pick favorites in your camera roll! For some reason this is a newer discovery of mine (I only work on the internet for a living, it’s fine – ha!), but it’s saved me so much time already. ESPECIALLY if you’re a photo hoarder like I am, organizing in folders is a *much* quicker way to find what you actually need, instead of having to remember an approximate month it was taken or what photos are near it upon scrolling back through the depths.
Close out tabs.
Currently: 76 tabs between 4 windows. And this is a good day. Granted, my tab situations is ALWAYS organized in this absurdly specific way that my brain just makes sense of. But, it 100% affects my overall mood and productivity if and when things get out of hand. In University, friends would always question how the HECK I got anything done like this, since half (OK all) of the time I can’t even see text on a tab detailing what it is. But for me, tabs are always my to-do’s. I prefer an empty inbox over an empty tab situation, so I’d open things in new tabs to indicate something needing to be done. That way, by the end of the day, ideally I’d be able to clear out tabs AND my inbox and be fresh all the way around.
Buuuuuut…I think that’s YET to happen if I’m being honest. I’m getting better at immediately organizing a tab somewhere else instead of open in a browser, to minimize multi-tasking and maximize productivity. But I can always improve.
Go through any open tabs you currently have going on – which can you close immediately? If it’s a to-do, create a bookmark folder called “TO DO NEXT” and throw them in there – then close out.
Purge your inbox.
I’m proud to say at this point, I’m actually pretty in control of my inbox (most days), and I can manage to get to the coveted Inbox Zero. But, it’s everything underneath the unread section that’s the bane of my existence. After the unread lies a 22.81 GB abyss of read emails that badly need some TLC.
Time to really sort things out in a way that will actually HELP you in the future. First, after a quick scroll to get a sense for what you’re working with, create a few folders that you know will be the keepers. From there, do a quick scroll to delete. If it helps, start from the very last page of your inbox, since that stuff is the oldest. If you find yourself back in the 2014 archives and you haven’t pulled up an email since…it can go. Unless it’s wildly sentimental (ie. the email you were accepted to college with, or the first email your now-spouse ever sent you when you were dating, etc), let it go.
Reconnect with old contacts.
As you’re going through your inbox and camera roll, take note of any old familiar faces that you haven’t seen in awhile. While clearing out the old, it’s great to make time for the new – or the REnewed. Make note of any work colleagues, good mentors, old friends – heck, even that guy who might be worthy of the second date. Once you’ve done some spring cleaning and feel less overwhelmed, you’re in a better place to reconnect and catch up. Sometimes the best connections are REconnections that were worth making!
Clear out subscriptions.
Instead of sweeping those annoying subscription emails right into your trash, take the time to open them and click the unsubscribe option. Yes, it can be time consuming but knowing you will never ever need to see an email from them again, ah-mazing!
Also, ever go through your credit card statement and find weird iTunes charges or other anonymous online bills for things you stopped using in, like, 2012? Yeah, no bueno. Take inventory of everything that you’re subscribed to currently. The key: Go through your actual payment statements, so that you catch everything that you are and maybe are NOT aware of. If you see anything that makes ya go HUH WTF?, don’t be afraid to call up the company and ask for clarification on what exactly that charge is! At the very least, you’ll be aware and can mark it in your own records accordingly. And at best, if it’s something you don’t even need anymore, you just got more dollah dollah bills in your wallet. Bless.
Delete any apps/programs you don’t use anymore.
This goes right in line with clearing out your desktop, so you might already have #BeenThereDoneThat but make sure you do it with your phone and iPad also. If you’ve got anything on your device that was a download of some sort or another, it takes up space! Make sure that’s space you don’t need now for something more worthwhile. If you can’t even remember what all is on there (like me), go to your settings to see what’s taking up what space. If there’s anything that again makes ya go HUH WTF, check it out and then hit delete.
How are you spring cleaning your online life? Ready to start your Digital Detox today?
Any tips that I missed up above that work well for you? Tell me all about it in the comments section!
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