In today’s post I am revealing one of my dirty little secrets — my absolutely chaotic computer life! I know, I know…hard to believe right? ;-) Sadly it’s all too true. My friends and family are always mocking my compulsive need to have a zillion tabs open at any one time in my browser and a desktop that is plastered with icons. But today I am attempting to turn over a new leaf! My business partner Scott recently sent me a link to an article with tips on how to declutter your online life which he claims has been transforming! I decided to check it out and then did some more research of my own and found some more ideas that I hope can transform MY digital life as well!
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I’ve narrowed them down to 10 Tips For Decluttering Your Digital Life:
1. DESKTOP RELIEF
Did you know a desktop cluttered with icons will actually slow down your computer? Sweep a cluttered desktop into one folder, then sort through it chronologically to get rid of anything you don’t need and make new folders for stuff you want to keep.
Removing icons you don’t use will also help. This won’t delete the program, but will instead just get rid of the shortcut.
2. BROWSER SURVIVAL
Don’t have 14 tabs open at once – like me! Kill your tabs with the Tab Killer extension. Tab Killer saves the url’s of pages you want to open up and you can open them, when needed, from a popup. You don’t read all those pages simultaneously, so why should they be open all at once?
If killing is too extreme for you, you can CONDENSE them instead with OneTab. OneTab converts all of your tabs into a list. When you need to access the tabs again, you can either restore them individually or all at once.
3. TAMING EMAIL
Organizing your Inbox can be a daunting task! Trust me, I know. My Inbox is a major source of stress in my life because it is NEVER empty! Ever.
Here are a few simple steps to help us get our email under control—and keep it that way.
There are 3 main clean-up options:
1. Delete. If you are confident that you don’t need the messages, you can delete them.
2. Archive. Archived messages are still in your account, but they will no longer show in your inbox.
3. Archive and label. Label (or tag) your messages to help find them more easily then just archiving.
Here’s a sweet trick….sweep away messages in groups!
In Gmail you can search things like from:facebookmail.com or from:groupon.com and once you’ve isolated that group of emails, you can archive, label, or delete all of those messages at once. THIS I am DEFINITELY going to do!
I swear I spend more time DELETING emails than I do READING them! I’ve tried unsubscribing to individual emails but it’s an impossible task!
Unroll.me will unsubscribe you from unwanted email lists. After you sign up, you’ll see a list of all your subscription emails and you can unsubscribe instantly from whatever you don’t want.
If you don’t want to sign up for a service, you can unsubscribe manually by simply searching for the word “unsubscribe” in your inbox and then weed through yourself and figure out what you want to keep, or better yet, what you want to LOSE.
Keep It Clean
Congratulations! Now your Inbox is clean, but the real trick is keeping it that way. Here are a few tips to help:
If you can reply to a message in less than 5 minutes, just do it. Don’t put it off. Then, archive the message, delete it, or drag it into a label to get it out of your inbox. For anything that will take longer, flag it and come back to it later. Set aside dedicated time each day or each week to clear out your flagged items.
4. OH SO SOCIAL
Facebook actually has a page where it shows you friends you don’t interact with much. You can peruse the list and choose to add them to an Acquaintances list, where you’ll see less of them on Newsfeed, or just UNfriend them altogether.
Or just check your Birthdays tab and unfriend anyone who you don’t feel the need to follow anymore. Everyone has a birthday, so this is a super easy way to pair down your list.
Finally, you can unsubscribe from certain types of Facebook posts altogether. Just hover over your friend’s name in the news feed and click the “Friends” box. Head to “Settings.” From here, you can unsubscribe from any kind of update: Photos, Games, Life Events, and more.
This is a brilliantly simple idea — alphabetize your Pinterest boards to make finding what you need easier. Also, using keywords in the descriptions of your pins makes searching so much easier.
ManageFlitter is an app that helps organize people you’re following on Twitter so you can decide who to unfollow. It sorts by people who don’t follow you back, people who’ve been inactive for a set period of time, and people who might be spam.
You can tag your LinkedIn contacts to better manage them, and create your own custom tags (that only you can see.)
5. LIFE IN THE CLOUD
Taking advantage of cloud storage is a great way to declutter your digital life! There are extensions for both Chrome and Firefox that allow you to upload online files directly to Dropbox (rather than downloading them to your computer and then having to reupload them.)
Chrome extension Download to Dropbox adds an option to your right-click menu to send any files directly from the web to a folder on your Dropbox. You can accomplish something similar manually in Firefox with the extension Save Link in Folder.
6. POLICE YOUR PASSWORDS
I finally got smart and started using a password manager about a year ago. It takes the pain out of remembering all those passwords!! A password manager helps create strong passwords for all your online accounts and stores your passwords in an encrypted database. I use LastPass, but there are lots of other options that can be downloaded for free.
7. OUTSMART YOUR SMARTPHONE
I’m always debating over the best way to organize my iPhone. I love this idea by 9to5mac.com!
Organize your phone’s apps by how much you use them! Keep the ones you use the most on your home screen, and group the others by category on the following screens.
- Homescreen ONE contains the few apps used frequently at home.
- Homescreen TWO contains the apps used most frequently when out & about locally.
- Everything else lives in category folders on homescreen THREE.
If you want to know which apps are taking up the most space on your device….on an iPhone, just check Settings – General Usage. For Androids, check Menu – Settings – SD card / phone storage. From there, you can make decisions on what can be deleted.
8. JUST SAY NO TO NOTIFICATIONS!
Please, I’m begging you….Turn off your notifications! It is SO distracting to hear a chime or beep and have your screen light up every time someone responds on Facebook or you’re mentioned on Twitter, etc, etc, etc! You can always check at certain times of the day, to catch up.
On Facebook: click the icon at the top of your home page; click on account settings; click on notifications; this opens the page on which you can turn off all kinds of things for both your phone and email. TRY it! You’ll LIKE it!
9. DELETE BUT DON’T ORGANIZE
Get rid of files you don’t need anymore. Discard files, folders, photos, videos, emails – anything that isn’t necessary and is just cluttering up your computer. While you’re at it, don’t forget to empty the recycle bin.
DON’T ORGANIZE file and folders. This may sound CRAZY…but stay with me here. Organizing your digital documents in multiple folder structures is a waste of time and not really necessary. Install a desktop search app on your computer that will quickly search for the documents you are looking for, even faster than your custom organized folders. You can create a couple of high level folders under My Documents, and then dump all your files into those folders without creating multiple sub directories. When you want to retrieve a document from those folders, use your desktop search app to locate it, and open it. CLICK HERE for 5 Best Desktop Search Applications according to Lifehacker.
10. DO YOUR CHORES
Treat your digital chores like your weekly grocery shopping trip. Combine several items that need to be done and do them once a week. This might include paying your bills online, uploading pictures and videos, emailing your friends, backing up your files, etc.
Also schedule regular purging sessions (at least once every 6 months) on your calendar to clean up old digital items from your system.
Okay, I know the title says TEN tips…but here’s a bonus:
Disconnect from your digital world one day a week. You really don’t need to be connected ALL the time! Saturday or Sunday are good days to disconnect from the digital world and spend time with nature, friends, and family. I’ll try it if YOU will! :-)
What is your favorite tip to simplify your digital life?