Digital Declutter Challenge
The new year signals a time to get rid of the old and make room for the new, but one area we may overlook is our digital life. Cleaning up your digital world is just as satisfying and beneficial as cleaning out your closet.
To make this easy for you, I have created 30 tasks to do over 30 days or at your own pace. Each task moves you closer to being clutter free.
I have also created a free, simple checklist to help with your digital declutter. Ready, set, begin!
Steps/Days 1-6: Your Cell Phone
Let's start with your phone because it's arguably the most used device that you own. It goes everywhere with you and we've devoted six whole days to cleaning it up.
During this period you will review your texts, contacts and photos to decide what is unnecessary. You have to set the parameters for what is considered old and useless, but here are some guidelines you can follow.
- texts over a week old
- photos over a month old
- contacts you haven't spoken to in the past year
Tip: Save any photos by e-mailing them to yourself or moving them to your phone's micro sd card. Swab your phone with alcohol often to get rid of the germs.
1- Review and delete photos.
2- Review and delete texts.
3- Review and delete contacts.
4- Delete unused apps.
5- Clear app data, caches and downloads.
6- Enable auto backup, review internal and micro sd storage.
Steps/Days 7-10: Your Laptop/Desktop/Tablet
Depending on how much stuff you have on these devices this might take more than the allotted time, but if you're persistent you can definitely do this in four days.
You can do one task per device each day or choose one device to do all the tasks for each day.
Tip: If you have a PC, you may want to defragment your hard drive after cleaning up your computer. Remove those keyboard crumbs with some canned air.
7- Review and delete media, document files, and downloads.
8- Delete unused or outdated software and apps.
9- Repeat for other devices such as your camera.
10- Back up your devices to an external hard drive, sd card, or cloud.
Steps/Days 11-13: Online-General
This section deals with your general internet usage. We'll get to your email and social media accounts shortly.
Do you have too many passwords to remember or use the same password for multiple sites? Secure your online access by consolidating them and using one master password for all of your accounts.
I know you don't have anything to hide (or do you), but clear your browsing history, cookies, and temporary files at least monthly if not weekly. It will make for a more pleasant internet browsing experience.
11- Consolidate passwords and store them in a safe place.
12- Clear browsing history, cookies, temporary files, and caches.
13- Bookmark your most visited sites.
Steps/Days 14-18: Online-Email
I try to keep up on my emails because I have three accounts, but it's easy for my inbox to get away from me.
What makes decluttering your email potentially difficult is that you might want to read your emails to determine if you should delete them or not.
Use your best judgement with the sender and subject line, but I'm of the mindset that you should just delete it.If you need that information at some point in the future, the universe will provide it.
Tip: If you use Gmail, you can star emails that you want to save for later so the next time you declutter you won't have to second guess if you're deleting important info.
Also, Gmail now separates your e-mails into tabs. Make sure you review each tab and check that emails are filtered correctly. Update: Gmail has a new, cool feature called Inbox that makes organizing your emails even simpler.
After deleting all of your unwanted emails categorize the remaining ones into folders and unsubscribe from any newsletters you aren't reading (not mine though!). Try unroll.me to a quick, mass unsubscribe.
Tip: By law, you can not be added to a mailing list with out your express permission. When you unsubscribe, you can select why you are unsubscribing. You can also forward spam to firstname.lastname@example.org.
14- Review and delete emails.
15- Review and empty spam and trash folders.
16- Save important emails to appropriately labeled folders.
17- Unsubscribe from unread newsletters.
18- Use your email system’s features to organize content.
Steps/Days 19-24: Online-Social Media
Social media is tricky because what started out as platforms for individuals to connect on a personal level has evolved into a culture of its own used for good and bad.
It's now populated by businesses, organizations, social media personalities, advertisements, praise, criticism, and subcultures like "black twitter".
Additionally, employers and the government use social media to check up on you. It's important to be cognizant of how you present yourself and review each site's privacy policies and settings so you can protect yourself. Keep this in mind as you update your social media accounts.
Tip: Keep your profile information and pic consistent across all platforms so it's easy for people to connect with you.
19- Update your profiles with current information.
20- Unfriend/unfollow/block others where appropriate.
21- Leave any groups you don’t participate in.
22- Remove wary posts.
23- Organize your boards, lists, and friends.
24- Deactivate unused accounts.
Days 25-30: Other
The last several days of the #digitaldeclutter challenge are for wrapping up all of your tasks and going over anything you have missed or skipped. This also includes your digital accessories, i.e. cables and chargers.
25- Label multiple sd cards and other external storage.
26- Store all your chargers, cables, sd cards, cases in one place.
27- Sync your content across devices if applicable.
28- Revisit any tasks you may have skipped on this list.
29- Repeat for your work devices.
30- Recycle, donate, or trade-in any old or broken devices.
It's important to walk away from your devices sometimes. I recently lost my phone and couldn't get a new one for a few days. It was a surprising pleasant experience being (almost) unreachable. Read a book, take a walk, or do anything that gets you offline.
31- Go offline for 24 hours.
Congratulations! You've adopted habits and tools to keep your digital life organized and clutter free forever or at least for a couple of months and then you can start all over again.
Download your digital declutter checklist.