We all have to periodically declutter our closets, our desks, our kitchen cabinets, our cars.
But what about our digital spaces? Have we become digital packrats?
“Human beings have created more information in the last ten years than in all recorded history prior.”
Just in time for the new year, I finished reading this marvelous book, 10-Minute Digital Declutter: The Simple Habit to Eliminate Technology Overload by S. J. Scott and Barrie Davenport.
I could hardly bear to keep reading it because I wanted to start doing it.
It’s motivating; it’s explanatory; it works.
I’ve already begun 10 minutes a day as part of my goal to clear off my old PC, to organize my digital photos, to open up more iPhone storage, and to keep from developing bad habits on my Mac.
Authors Scott and Davenport begin with some preparatory chapters about the importance of digital decluttering. We know much of this intuitively—we daily live with the mess we’ve created with backlogs of emails and folders and data on every digital device we own, spreading onto the cloud for extra reassurance.
The meat of the book follows in the next chapters, explaining how to do it. They include decluttering
- your social media activities
- your email inbox
- your computer
- your smartphone and tablet
Next is a section on protecting your digital life. The book ends with how to maintain your digital declutter action plan.
Here are a few sample questions asked in the book to assess your current digital situation:
- Is your list of bookmarks so long you feel too overwhelmed to get to any of them?
- Do you have emails from over five years ago?
- Do you have project files and unneeded documents from over five years ago?
- Do you use more than one email account because of all the storage you need?
- Do you have many duplicates of photos, and is it difficult to find a photo you need?
- Is your hard drive or phone storage 75 percent full or more?
- Do you have many apps on your phone you never use?
- Is your desktop cluttered with icons?
- Do you have folders or bookmarks of stuff waiting to be read that you never have gotten around to reading?
- Is your computer running slower or having problems as a result of all the data stored?
- Do you have more social media “friends” than you can possibly keep up with?
- Have you failed to change your passwords in the past few months?
- Do you avoid addressing your digital clutter because it feels too overwhelming?
If you answer “yes” to several of these, you may have areas you need to digitally declutter like I do. Go it on your own, or read this book and map out your plan. I’m a fan of baby steps, so while it may take me awhile, I’m devoting a minimum of 10 minutes a day to at least make a dent. You do what works for you.
Here are a few tips straight from the book:
- Make quick decisions.
If it’s an app or download that you can easily download again, then go ahead and delete it if you don’t use it on a regular basis.
- Create a holding pen
Create a file on your computer titled “Maybe” and store every questionable item there until you can come back and make a final decision.
- 4 D’s of email
Whenever you open an email, you have one of four decisions: Delete it, Defer it, Delegate it or Do it.
- Do it now
Do it. If it takes less than 5 minutes to respond to an email or complete the required task, then take care of it immediately.
- On folders
Create a Main Folder. Then create six to ten 2nd level folders. Create as many 3rd level folders as needed. Store old projects and documents in an Archives folder
- Delete or archive video files
The only videos you should keep are the ones you plan to watch frequently—like the video of your daughter taking her first step. Everything else should be deleted, stored in the cloud, or transferred to your computer.
- Rule of Three
Make three copies of anything you care about, such as family photos, tax records, or digital souvenirs. Basically, anything that is truly important to you should have three copies.
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Have you accumulated digital clutter too? What space would you like most to clear out or get organized? Please share in the comments.
My thanks to author Steve Scott for the review copy of this book. You can read more from Steve on his webpage, Develop Good Habits.
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