We clean out our homes in the spring, our garages in the fall, and some of us even brave nutritional cleanses, but what about our digital lives? This is not an article about taking time away from our digital-selves, but instead how to clean up our digital lives so that it’s easier to navigate.
Over time, just like with our homes, our digital lives become cluttered with devices, apps, files, and projects. If you read anything about quality control systems or, to explain it better, living in a quality controlled environment, the first step to any amount of success is to clean up the clutter. I regularly clean up my digital life so that I can focus on the things that really matter.
I have outlined a few of these problem areas below, as well as a few tips on how we can cleanse our digital lives.
- Applications – An application is anything that runs on our computer and/or phones. We are always quick to download, but slow to delete. I’d challenge you to take a look at your app folder and remove anything that you don’t use regularly. If you want to work more in the cloud, try to find web-apps that can perform the same functions as your regular apps (Google Docs instead of Word / Excel etc.). This helps you minimize how many apps you need to keep for simple tasks.
2. Email – Oh the insanity!! I wrote an entire blog on how to email like a Ninja, so I won’t go over this major issue here. Plain and simple, you need to stay on top of cleaning your emails or it will get out of control. If you brag that you get over 200+ emails a day, I have news for you; you’re doing it wrong. Read this blog and stop the email hell.
Here are some quick pointers if you don’t want to read my blog:
- Unsubscribe to anything you never look at.
- Don’t ever use folders. Items should be unread / starred for follow up / everything else. I live and die by these rules and it’s incredible.
- Mark stuff as spam (in Gmail) as soon as you get it. Gmail works wonders to get rid of this.
- Create automated ‘rules’ to sort mail if needed, or mark it as ‘read’ automatically.
Check out my Gmail below, clean as a whistle.
3. Notifications. Don’t let notifications light up your phone whenever you choose. Go into your notifications section of your phone and only keep the most important ones on. People who get dinged every time they get an email are a slave to their email. I pretty much only get notified if I get a phone call/text or message on LinkedIn (because that’s one of my major networks), but that’s it. Don’t let your phone control your attention 100 times a day.
4. Your Desktop. Every time I’m on a plane with no WIFI, I clean up my desktop + file system. Every file has a place, and I even have a ‘sort’ folder that I throw crap into if I can’t make a decision. If you want a clean desktop, you’ll need to spend time working on it. I usually open up two windows of my file folder structure and move things as I scroll through the list. If you have over 10 icons on your desktop, you need to do some work!
5. Media. Make a plan for all of your music/images or else they are going to take over your hard drive and you’ll always be carrying around GB’s of storage for no reason. Make a plan to move all of this to the cloud (Google/iCloud) etc, and get rid of these bulky files. I also use an app called CleanGenius Pro to visualize my storage every month and find out where I’m collecting un-needed files.
Once you’ve gone through all of these, you’ll thank me for it. Enjoy your shiny new digital lives!