#3. Digitalizing my life + Cleaning up digital clutter

Introduction:

Digitalizing my life and cleaning up digital junk and clutter was a big key to helping my goals and dreams begin to straighten out and flow forward. It helped me become more clear-minded, focused, and efficient. It gave me more time and decreased my stress and disorganization levels tremendously.

Here’s a 1, 2, 3 walk-through so you can do it too.

 

1. Start with: Physical paper clutter

 

What:

Anything paper in the house;

Lists, notes, receipts, diaries, photos, scrapbooks, takeout menus, instruction manuals, old magazines and newspapers, love letters, birthday cards, business cards, etc. along with all your important documents and certificates as well.

How to declutter/organize:

Step 1 is always to gather everything into one central location in front of you.

Step 2 sort into three piles; recycle, scan, or save

  • Recycle: Old magazines and newspapers. Old business cards {transfer info. to your phone contacts if still relevant}. Takeout menus- it’s all online. Old bills that have been paid. Go through your wallet. Get rid of old receipts and credit cards or membership cards that are out of service or you no longer use. Get rid of old lists.
  • Scan: Documents such as your medical records, tax returns, photos, and insurance papers.           ***Create a digital space to file it all into via a folder system on your laptop, organized by category much like a physical filing system would look and work. Designate folders for each category, ex: photos, music, documents, movies, applications, etc.
  • Save: Important documents: Ex. birth certificates, death certificates, marriage certificates, driver’s licenses, academic records; diplomas and transcripts, passports, social security cards, wills, leases and agreements (until they’re no longer relevant).
  • Note: If you have a considerable amount of important documents that need to be saved in paper form, create a physical filing system. Set aside a space and organize files by category. Ex. kids, medical, home, pet, work etc.

Step 3 go paperless and unsubscribe.

  • Go paperless with bills and bank statements by transferring it all online. There’s no reason to still receive and pay your bills through paper mail.
  • The Federal Trade Commission gives resources to help stop unsolicited mail, phone calls, and emails.
  • Most retailers that send out catalogs have a phone number you can call if you no longer want to receive from them. Request to be removed from mailing lists.

 

2. Move on to: Physical tech. clutter

 

What: 

Old phones, wires, iPads, iPods, CD’s, floppy disks, external hard drives, old gaming consoles, that broken walk-man your Dad gave you so you’d be able to sell it and make a fortune one day. He was lying. It’s broken and useless. Time to ditch that ‘ol thing.

How to declutter/organize: 

 

3. Lastly get to: Digital clutter

 

What: Email

How to declutter/organize:

  • Downsize to just one email address at best, or two at most, for personal and work. Anything more functions more or less as a glorified junk drawer, and there’s absolutely no need for it.
  • Empty your inbox by deleting old emails and replying to unanswered ones.
  • Empty your spam and change your setting to automatically delete incoming spam after 30 days.
  • Unsubscribe. From advertisements that come to your spam and inbox, from companies and newsletters you no longer or never did care for.
  • Make sure to empty your trash bin as well, so it’s all truly good and gone. Also so you’re not tempted to go foraging like a hoarding addict to return useless items better left alone. Don’t half-ass it: delete stuff for good. Remember: physical clutter, and that includes technological clutter, takes up space in the mind as well. Clear your junk and free up your mental space; set your mind free!

 

What: Social Media

How to declutter/organize:

  • Pare down the social media platforms you frequent. Nobody can do it all and splitting your focus in so many directions lowers your efficiency rate, your focus, and your ability to be productive. Delete old accounts.
  • Pare down your contacts. Inspired by the guy who made it his mission to have coffee with every single person on his Facebook friends list, ask yourself- would I sit down and have a cup of coffee with this one? Delete friends you wouldn’t hang out with, or alternatively go ahead and actually become friends with them.
  • Join fewer groups and play fewer online games/time-wasters.
  • Clean out old photo albums and posts. Get rid of old texting threads. Delete the thousand selfies you’ve taken in lieu of the good 2 or 3 that are worth keeping.
  • Turn off notifications- on your phone, to your email, and otherwise. It will give you so much more peace of mind and time and focus in your day. Trust me on this one- you’re not missing a thing. Those feeds will still be there at the end of the day.

 

What: Other

How to declutter/organize:

  • About those folders/digital filing system from Step 1; PRO TIP: Move EVERYTHING in a category to its folder before sorting through and paring down, so you can clearly see what you have, what you want, what you don’t need, and what you’re left with.
  • Save photos to an online platform (such as one of these) or to an SD card or flash drive.
  • Declutter your music by deleting random single songs and albums you no longer listen to, organizing by artist and album, and labeling your songs simply.
  • Get rid of desktop items you don’t use. your computer is your workspace. clear your workspace for a clear mind.
  • Get rid of duplicate files; free up storage space.
  • Uninstall old software/programs/apps/downloads and free up space on your hard drive.
  • Delete internet bookmarks that are no longer needed.

 

To finish up:

  • Create a working system for yourself to help set the work you’ve just put in and keep it clean, organized, and uncluttered.
  • Process data immediately. When you have new photos, download and sort right away. When emails come in, answer, delete, unsubscribe, or other.
  • Create a ‘pending’ folder for projects or bills, things yet to be dealt with so they can be taken care of before being thrown/deleted or put away in their proper place.
  • To keep appointments and note down events and meetings as they come in, use a calendar. Best is a digital one. Otherwise get yourself a wall or desk calendar. Google has a calendar, your laptop has one built in, your smartphone comes with one. Relevant lists and notes can be stored here as well, and then actually get done!
  • Last but not least, minimize your time online. Un-glue your eyes from the screen, get outdoors, take a hike, get some sunlight and get some dirt under those fingernails! Add more play-time and fun to your day! You’ll be a happier human for it.

 

Much love to you all and good luck! Let me know how it goes for you in the comments below.

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