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How a Digital Declutter Can Lead to a Better Digital Life

Learn all about digital clutter and our 8 tips to help you reduce your digital clutter and get organized this year.

By Brier Cook  •   February 8, 2023  •   7 min read

Most of us spend a good chunk of our days in the digital realm, but not many of us think to clean our devices like we clean our homes. 

If you’re reading this, chances are you have hundreds of unwanted emails in your inbox, thousands of deletable pictures on your iPhone, or a few too many tabs open on your web browser. 

If this sounds like you, it’s time for a crash course on how to digitally declutter your life. Read on to learn more about digital clutter, how it impacts your productivity, the benefits of decluttering your digital life, and eight organization tips to get started today. 

What is digital clutter? 

Digital clutter is anything that takes up unwanted space on your devices. Think of the clutter that you have at home. In a cluttered space, you may have a hard time finding what you’re looking for and experience trouble maintaining organizational systems. 

Digital clutter is the same but presents itself in the form of disorganized data, files, and digital devices. The mess can appear in many forms, like a crowded inbox, full phone storage, or dozens of mislabeled files on your desktop. 

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Does decluttering help with productivity?

Digital clutter doesn’t just slow your devices down; it can slow you down, too. The average worker spends 45 minutes per day searching for information they need to do their jobs. Too much information crowding can be as anxiety inducing as working in a physically messy space. Digital clutter may make you feel stressed, increase your risk of cybersecurity threats, and even lower your overall productivity at work. 

Digital clutter in the workplace 

Here are a few spots where you may find an excess of digital clutter:

1Computer desktop

If you’re always tempted to save documents, photos, and files to your computer desktop, think again. Think of clearing your desktop like cleaning your garage. Start by creating folders and dropping all your floating items into designated spaces. If you’re really trying to become a digital minimalist, limit your desktop folders to download and browser shortcuts, a folder for photos, your five most used application tabs, and a discrete folder for passwords and other login information. Purchase cloud-based storage for your additional storage needs! 

2Work applications

You likely have a few installed work applications that you rarely use. Stick with the most important ones like your notes app, Fellow (of course!), Slack, reminders, your team’s project management tool, your video call platforms of choice, your email application, and any other apps you use on a daily or weekly basis. Uninstall apps that you don’t use regularly to save space on your devices.

3Phone and tablet 

Your phone and tablet are two places where you’re definitely hoarding unwanted clutter. Go through your phone contacts, photos and screenshots, apps, voicemails, and texts regularly to get rid of anything you no longer need. You can also mute unnecessary notifications if it helps keep you focused during the workday. Delete old music libraries and podcasts you don’t plan on listening to again and clear any outdated notes. If you don’t know where to start, head to the storage tab on your device to see a breakdown of what takes up the most space.  

7 benefits of digital decluttering 

  • Speeds up devices: Are you noticing that your devices are slowing down the more applications you download? Speed up your device by closing browser tabs, downloads, and files as you finish using them. 
  • Boosts productivity: Without a clean digital space, your productivity may suffer great consequences. Boost your efficiency by decluttering so you can easily find what you’re looking for with minimal effort. 
  • Improves focus and concentration: A messy device can make for a messy mind. An organized digital space will benefit your health by making you feel happy and more relaxed so you can focus on what really matters. 
  • Reduces stress and frustration: We’ve all become irritated searching for a document that seems to have disappeared into the abyss. Minimize workplace stress and feel in control by keeping your files organized. 
  • Builds confidence: When you set yourself up for success every day, your confidence will improve. Decluttering your digital space may give you the encouragement you need to tackle that project you’ve been dreading. 
  • Gives you back emotional energy: Emotional energy is how we feel about what’s going on in our lives. A disorganized digital space can drain that energy and prevent us from taking on new challenges. Without that clutter, your energy levels will be sure to replete.
  • Helps prioritize tasks: When there’s digital clutter, everything feels urgent. Having fewer files, documents, and apps to interact with will ensure you can identify what’s truly important. 

8 organizing tips to reduce digital clutter 

1Back everything up

It’s not fun losing files, documents that you worked hard on, or precious photo and video memories. Save everything on your device to the cloud or a hard drive before you begin organizing your files. Backing up your device will save everything you deem important in the case of a system crash or hard drive failure. 

2Delete what you don’t need

Start with things like promotional holiday emails, spam, apps you don’t use, or even Facebook friends with whom you no longer speak. Then, move on to photos and videos that you’ve already backed up on a hard drive or the cloud. Lastly, get rid of any obsolete documents and files, outdated software, or programs you no longer use, and anything else standing between you and a decluttered digital space. 

3Pick your web browser wisely

Select a web browser that allows you to clear your history, cookies, site data, and cached images and files. Do your research on each browser’s privacy policy so you understand what risks are associated with each platform and can make an educated decision for yourself. 

4Set up different browser accounts

Did you know that Google Chrome allows you to create different accounts with unique account settings? Create accounts for your work and personal use to stay focused on certain tasks. You can even further compartmentalize your browsers for specific types of work. For example, if you manage work social media accounts, you can be logged into those platforms on one account and not on another to avoid distracting notifications when completing other work. 

Pro tip: With Fellow’s browser extensions, you can access your meeting notes right inside of Google Meet calls and your Google Calendar. This will supercharge team meetings and 1-on-1s without leaving the tools that you are already using, avoiding a cluttered workspace.

5Use browser bookmarks strategically

Bookmarks may be what you need to have a more productive work life. While bookmarks aren’t a new hack, they can make all the difference. On your browser of choice, head to a website you want to visit again in the future and select the star to the right of the address bar. Save any websites you visit regularly for easy access. To find a bookmark in the future using Google Chrome, select More > Bookmarks > Show Bookmarks bar. 

6Create different calendars for different purposes

Don’t clutter your work calendar with personal meetings and appointments. Have separate calendars for work, your personal life, and even one for nice-to-dos. Toggle each calendar on and off as needed so you don’t feel overwhelmed by your commitments each day. 

7Move your mobile apps into folders

Create folders on your phone to categorize and organize your apps. Most modern cell phones have user-friendly homepages that you can customize to your liking. Some examples of folders you can create for mobile apps include social media, work, photo and video, health, music, productivity, money, shopping, and travel. 

8Aim for inbox zero

Cleaning out your inbox doesn’t seem like a fun task, but it can be incredibly rewarding. Start by moving all your emails to an organizing folder so you can sort through the mess. The focus of tidying should not be to define what you want to get rid of, but what you want to keep. Try to complete the organizing in one go so you feel motivated to finish the task. Next, create a simple email folder system that will help you categorize only the most important emails in your inbox. Move any important emails to these folders for future reference. Remember that the more complicated the folder system, the more spaces you will be creating to bury emails that could be deleted! 

Parting advice

It’s simple: decluttering your digital space can speed up your devices, save you time, and make your work and personal lives more efficient. 

Start 2023 off right by clearing out your computer desktop, work apps, phone, and tablet for maximum organization!

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