No matter how good of a laptop you have or how good you are at organizing your daily routine, digital clutter is bound to rear its head.
You may be hit with desktops full of important but confusing files and notes, inboxes full of both spam and business messages, and an abyss of unsearchable, no-name images.
How do you declutter this part of your digital life, and keep it from happening in the first place?
While it may seem impossible right now, it’s quite easy to label all of your digital data and organize it into neat little lists and categories.
Let’s take a look at some tools and techniques which can help you avoid a digital mess and stay ahead of the game without a hitch.
Effective ways to Declutter your Digital Life
Label files ASAP for Digital File Cleanup
The ground rule of digital file organization is to label everything correctly and in a timely fashion. A good parallel would be to make home-cooked jam from different fruits but fail to label the jars as you fill them – you get the idea.
Make sure to put a name, a date and a folder for each new project you work on.
If the project relates to an existing file, label it with a recent date or with an ending that corresponds with something like “update”, or “revision”. Don’t name your files “1, 2, 3, 11, 22, 33” because you will lose track of your work very quickly.
Once that happens, you will have to manually open each file and see what it’s all about. This will make you lose not only time but patience and motivation to work along the way.
Make use of Google Drive
Cloud storage is an increasing necessity, no matter what you do for a living. One of the best solutions in that regard is Google Drive, courtesy of Google.
This is a good choice due to its interconnectivity with other Google tools and apps such as Docs and Gmail.
Using Google Drive in your everyday file organization can help you declutter your storage space and get a hold of your digital life once again.
As a bonus, Android users can enjoy Google’s OS integration with the smartphone’s calendar for an added layer of organization.
Keep a Pomodoro Close
While not a file organization app in itself, Pomodoro can help your digital life quite a lot. We are all guilty of using social media and browsing the internet at the worst possible opportunity.
Apps such as Pomodoro limit our access to procrastination and allow us to focus on the work we are currently occupied with.
If your focus is on the work at hand, you are more likely to produce better results in a shorter timeframe. It will also stop you from mislabeling or confusing your files and notes as you work on your digital device.
Don’t make the mistake of keeping social media or news platforms at your fingertips while you work – give Pomodoro a shot.
Create a personal notebook in Evernote
You might find yourself in a situation without a pen or without your personal notebook as a whole. Even if you like carrying a physical notebook in your purse or handbag, you should still consider using a dedicated app along the way.
Evernote is an amazing little app, capable of not only comprehensive writing and note editing but the daily organization as well.
You can use Evernote to schedule your tasks, appointments and important dates for a quick reminder on the go. Combining Evernote with a writing platform such as The Word Point can elevate your writing from mere notes, especially if you work as a copywriter or a designer.
Since Evernote is cross-platform, you can access your notes both on a desktop computer and a smartphone device, adding an extra level of clarity.
Review your clutter frequently
Depending on your line of work, chances are that many of your files will become obsolete over time. This is especially true if you keep notes frequently and like to jot everything down.
Review your files, notes, and backups from time to time in order to eliminate anything irrelevant from the pile.
While you may be screaming “Everything is relevant!” right now, the truth is that most of the daily organization stuff isn’t. If you really need to keep files in storage, a better option is to get several external hard drives and label them according to the data you will store on them.
That way, your personal workstation (desktop or laptop) will remain clutter free – at least until the next purge comes along.
Asana for your workflow
As the digital clutter grows bigger on your laptop or PC, you will have less and less motivation to keep working. If that happens, a workflow organization platform can help you refocus your energy.
Asana is not only good for project organization and step-by-step planning, but it also allows you to invite coworkers into your projects and to work together on its cloud server.
You can work with other people on work-related materials without leaving the comfort of your home or home office (learn how to declutter your office here).
This allows for much better file management and neatly organized projects, divided into milestones and goals. While Asana isn’t the only project organization tool out there, it’s definitely among the best solutions out there.
Declutter Your Inbox
Out-of-control emails are a big source of digital clutter and stress for people these days. Think about all the communication that is happening right now in your inbox!
You can be getting:
- emails from businesses you shop at
- emails from businesses you shopped at years ago
- messages from work
- messages from family
- digital files and photos
- a whole lot of spam!
Doing a few simple things can help to declutter this aspect of your digital life for good.
Unsubscribe from Mailing Lists: No longer needing emails regarding a topic you needed years ago is a great reason to unsubscribe! This post about unsubscribing from mailing lists can help you decide if they should stay or go.
Email Inbox Rescue: Get the Decluttering School training all about tackling your inbox and making it something you can manage instead of something sucks away time and causes stress! See if Email Inbox Rescue is right for you!
Tips for Keeping Your Mobile Clutter-Free
It’s not just your desktop or laptop that needs to be decluttered! Our phones are our most used devices these days for just about everything, so make sure you do the following to stay on top of the clutter – and keep your storage space from getting eaten up.
- Create albums for your photos: If you can’t rename the photos like on your laptop, make sure you are organizing your hundreds (or thousands) of images into useful folder names for tracking.
- Review and delete photos immediately: With it so easy to take a dozen photos in a single second, it’s important to review these and get rid of the outtakes and duplicates ASAP.
- Review and delete apps: There are probably apps you tried out or used a year ago that no longer serve you. Get rid of them! You can always re-download if you need them again.
- Group your apps into folders: Make your screen easy to navigate while cutting down on visual clutter by grouping similar apps into folders.
- Turn off notifications: It’s not just about keeping those red numbers from showing up in the corners of your apps. It’s also about removing the stress and mental clutter from constant notifications.
Stay Focused on Digital Declutter
Before you know it, you will be able to breathe a sigh of relief at the sight of your desktop, free of the mess it was recently filled with. Once you get a hold of your digital life, don’t make the mistake of relaxing and calling it a day.
Stay on top of digital files, work on email cleanup often, and more.
Make sure to use all the tools and tips you’ve learned on a daily basis. It’s also a good idea to tell your friends and coworkers about the new organization methods you’ve adopted in order to spread the good word around.
That way, your digital life will never become a cluster it once was, no matter how actively you add new files and notes to the mix.
Next step: Learn to master household paperwork easily!
Digital minimalism is easy to do once you get things cleaned up.
Do you need to declutter your digital life?
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About Author | Pauline speaks Portuguese, English, Spanish and Italian. She traveled the world to immerse herself in the new cultures and learn languages. Today she is proud to be a voting member of the American Translators Association and an active participant of the Leadership Council of its Portuguese Language Division. Her blog is Translation Client Zone, check her out.