Minimalism: How I’m Dealing With Digital Clutter

How to do a digital declutter
Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

In the last year, I have decluttered my possessions by over 80% and I am still decluttering.  Digital clutter has interestingly been one of the hardest for me to work on. When I talk about dealing with digital clutter, I’m talking about decluttering everything from cell phones, computers, electronics, social media usage and everything else in the digital space. Personally, I don’t have a lot of electronics- I only own an iPhone, MacBook, two Ipads (yup, apple fan here), and recently my DSLR cameras and batteries.

For the longest time, I minimized just how much of a problem digital clutter is. I’ll try to break down my digital life in a minute and just maybe I will understand the gravity of the problem at hand. On my cell phone alone I have over 15,000 photos and videos. This does not include over 3,000 photos on my Ipads, and those saved on my Mac. I have about 1,000 files- mostly powerpoint slides from school, ebooks, and educational stuff. I have a combined 36,9180 unread emails. There are about a hundred apps on my cell phone and Ipads. I have over 200 unread text messages and IMs – yeah, don’t text me. Don’t forget the hundreds of unread messages in my social media accounts. 

I know how my life has changed since I embraced minimalism. So doing the same digitally is a no-brainer. For my digital declutter, I will follow the KonMari method. If you haven’t read the book, I suggest you do. Meanwhile, I summarised it into these 6 decluttering tips post. These tips changed how I view “things” and how I organize what I own. While I have previously attempted to declutter my digital space, There’s one rule I didn’t follow and that will be the difference this time. That rule is:

BE RUTHLESS 

dealing with digital clutter
Photo by @rawpixel on Unsplash

So Here’s My Actual Plan On Dealing With Digital Clutter

 1) Do It Once And For All

Konmari stresses the importance of tidying once and for all. In order to do that, you have to be strict with the process and basically be ruthless. What would perhaps make this digital declutter a little easier would be the fact that it’s not a regular declutter. There are no moving boxes to load up. There’s little need to worry whether or not the donation center will accept it. My goal is not to make any excuses for why things should be kept.

What this really means is:

  • Unsubscribe from pretty much everything especially email subscription and brand emails that don’t really serve me.
  • Delete any duplicate apps: It’s best to find an app that does everything or almost everything on my productivity app than to have 5 productivity apps on my phone. Also, delete duplicate files
  • Find a strategy to organize everything on these devices and stick to it.

2) Discard First then organize next

My goal is to eventually organize everything into folders and subfolders and organize apps by categories. But first, I must delete and all unwanted apps and folders first before arranging them.  Organizing only after discarding the unwanted items ensures that you’re not mistakenly keeping things that should’ve been otherwise discarded. It also prevents you from keeping duplicate items.

Here’s what I’m keeping in mind as I discard:

  1. If I haven’t used an app in the last three months, I will delete it. There’s no reason to hoard an app if I can easily re-download it when I have it. 
  2. All documents that haven’t been opened in the last year or that I don’t deem important will be deleted.
  3. For bookmarks, go through the list, read what needs to be read and then delete. Any bookmarks that were once saved but has been used, needs to be culled.
  4. For social media accounts: do you really need Facebook, Instagram etc? Personally, If I didn’t have this blog, I would delete all my social media but for twitter. Since social media is a big part of my blog, I will use it mindfully. So I am choosing three social media platforms to focus on.
dealing with digital clutter
Photo by Saulo Mohana on Unsplash

3) Choose to keep only what brings you joy

This pertains to pictures especially. For all other purposes, it’s important to only keep things that I actually use.  When decluttering images, I ask myself these questions:

  1. Is this photo still relevant to me? Do I feel a valuable emotion when I see this photo? When I mean valuable emotion, I am careful not to say “does this make me happy” because sometimes happiness isn’t all there is to be had.
  2. Is this a memory I want to have easy access to?
  3. And for apps, if it really doesn’t serve a purpose and add value to my life, it needs to be deleted.

4) Clean by categories not by location

The point of this is to avoid redundant work which is often fruitless. By cleaning by categories, I will focus on deleting pictures across all devices, and then files, and then unsubscribe. This allows you to work on one thing across all devices and closely monitor how many of duplicate files you’re keeping and need to let go. So, Pick one area at a time and focus on that. For me, I will work on decluttering my phone first before my computer. In each device, I will first pick and finish a category before jumping to the next. So all photos will be decluttered and then apps. rather than decluttering 100 photos and jumping to apps and then back again. It really makes things easier.

5) Start with Items that are easier for you to get rid of

Pictures bear the sentimental weight that’s likely why many of us heard them. So the easiest place to start with digital clutter is to unsubscribe from all unwanted email subscriptions. Then, transition to files and folders,  then apps and then pictures. By the time you get to deleting pictures, you would have garnered momentum.

6) Focus on simplifying how you store things

When you simplify how you store things, it makes it easier to put them back and organize properly. So moving forward, after the declutter, it is important to create folders, subfolders, and categories for apps, photos, files, and emails. I will share my strategies in the future once I figure it out myself.

That’s it!

I realized this post is packed, so definitely take a moment to digest it all.

If you’re dealing with digital clutter like I am, remember this is a process and It will take time. Many of the items we own are things that we accumulated over the course of 10 years or more. Do not expect that it’ll all fall into place with a magic wand. The key is to find your WHY and hold on to that! I’ll be here to cheer your on! Feel free to send me a message if you have any questions or need encouragement.

Always with Love,

Asakemi.

 

 

 

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  • After reading this I went crazy and deleted so many emails in my different inboxes and unsubscribed. I felt like such a champ. I created a filter and label system in my gmail which is amazing. Thank you so much!!! Going to work on my thousands of photos now but have the fire in me.

  • A well detailed and helpful post. I read Marie Kondo’s book last year and even shared how it helped me declutter on my blog but not in my wildest thoughts did I think of applying her tips to my digital clutter struggle.

    As far back as I can remember, my phone has always been as mess. Laptop a mess, email, Lord let me not even go there.

    My ex is a clean and clutter free freak. He was the one who brought balance to my digital clutter life. He knew how I struggled with it and would always help me to meticulously delete unnecessarily files, images, emails and even create categories for them. He was that good. Sadly, we had issues lately and separated and now I’m nearly dying from all the clutter. My phone especially is a mad mess. My goodness, when I say my phone is choking me, people think I’m weird but I don’t think they understand how crazy it is to have a phone where you don’t know where one photo or file is located. It’s crazy and I am going to actually stop complaining right now and work out a way to declutter and your tips are amazing Asakemi. I can’t wait to share my success story with you. Thank you for motivating me.

    http://www.giftcollins.com

  • Wow. That’s a lot. I try to read every email and social media message. I have just one gadget, my phone. And I unsubscribe from emails every week. I hit 10k photos and took a few hours to get rid of 2000 of them. It was hard, but necessary.
    I didn’t know KonMari had a digital clutter book. I use the method for clothes and living spaces.
    Learnt a lot of new things, as usual.
    Thank you. ❤️

    http://www.ellapinkette.com

    • That’s my new strategy now to keep it clean and uncluttered. Marie Kondo doesn’t have a digital book. I just find that her tips can be applied to pretty much different areas including digital clutter