With the amount of time that so many of us spend online, on our phones, or otherwise interacting with technology, it’s important to remember that our digital habitat is often in need of cleaning up just as much as our physical one. Sure, you’re unlikely to trip over digital clutter like you would a pile of clothes, but organization and upkeep are still critical to keeping our digital lives clean, streamlined, and easy to engage with.
Spring clean your digital habitat with these easy-to-incorporate habits.
First and foremost, when you unlock your screen, what kind of state is your home screen in? Are your apps sorted into logical folders or groups? Do you have your most frequently used apps in places that are easy to get to? How many of those apps have you not used in, say, the past six months? Your first objective should be to streamline and organize your home screen so it’s intuitive and not too cluttered. Delete apps if you don’t use them. Then give your contacts, voicemails, and text messages the same treatment. Delete things you no longer need or use (or anticipate needing for reference). To help keep things neat and easy-to-use, make sure that as you download new apps or add new contacts that you’re taking an extra moment to place them where it makes sense or to make sure you have a complete contact record right from the beginning.
We all dream of inbox zero, but when your emails number into the thousands with who knows how many unread and nothing in any kind of order, inbox zero seems like an unattainable dream. With a little bit of work to clean things up, a sensible folder system, and a few easy habits in the future, you can get there, though. First, delete messages you don’t need anymore. Try sorting by sender so you can get rid of unnecessary messages like store sales or mailing list emails en masse. If you have too many old emails to make this seem feasible, try to do a manageable amount every day until it’s under control. Don’t forget to unsubscribe from mailing lists you no longer have any use for! Once you’re down to just the emails you want to keep, set up a few logical folders to sort the things you still need, and where you can file future messages for easy finding. As emails come in every day, make an effort to file or delete as you go.
Desktop, documents, and pictures
If your computer is a jumbled mess of shortcuts, un-filed files, and pictures with file names that are just an incomprehensible string of numbers and letters, it’s time to impose some order. Clean up your desktop by making folders to collect random items, and deleting shortcuts to things you never use. Give your files and folders names that make sense and will make them easy to find or search for in the future. Change your default “save” settings if necessary, to make putting files in the right place even easier. And as you download, create, or update, save yourself a lot of time later on by naming and filing properly as you go. Once you get your digital habitat under control, your relationship with your technology will get a whole lot easier.