When you hear the word “clutter” what do you picture? Do you picture physical clutter? Do you picture the show Hoarders and a home where you’re unable to navigate safely? While those are accurate images, clutter isn’t just physical. Clutter can be emotional and digital. And in our digital world, there are many things to declutter that we don’t often think about.
Today I’m going to share with you 12 things you can declutter in your digital space. It’s good to regularly declutter your laptop, hard drives, and other devices. The lighter we make their memory, the faster they can perform for us.
#1 — Email subscriptions
One of the top things to declutter in your digital space is email subscriptions. Every time you make an online purchase on a new site you unknowingly join an email list. This is because we forget to uncheck the box before clicking “Submit Order.” Next thing you know, your inbox is overflowing with emails. Discounts, new arrivals, clearance sales. You’re so intrigued by the deal, you spend more money than you should.
Take an afternoon or evening to look through and unsubscribe from emails you no longer want. This can be done in one of two ways:
- The next time you receive an email from the sender, scroll down to the bottom and click “Unsubscribe.”
- Or use Unroll.me by putting in your email address and unsubscribing from many at a time.
Keeping your inbox under control is key to a clutter-free digital space.
#2 — Downloads folder
When was the last time you cleaned out your downloads folder? Every time you save a PDF or an image, it gets automatically saved to your downloads folder. It’s important to clean that out once a week.
If you want to keep something you downloaded, move it into a designated folder then delete the rest. I’m sure there’s plenty of things to declutter so set a reminder. Have it go off once a week or schedule a time and day on your calendar to take care of it.
#3 — Outdated files
Next, let’s focus on cleaning out our main computer. I don’t know about you, but I’ve found old school reports and essays dating back to 2008! If you’re hanging onto files because they contain sensitive information, that’s fine, but try and delete any other file that’s no longer relevant.
If you keep tax records on your computer it’s important to note when you can safely delete them. The average time span is 7 years. Consider naming the folder “2019 Tax Records (Delete in 2026).” You can do the same thing when naming files. If you only need something for a short period of time, make a note of when you can delete it in the name.
#4 — Pictures
When was the last time you deleted photos from your phone? Smartphones have made capturing and saving images easier. But we end up filling them with poor quality duplicates and screenshots we never look at again. And too many photos and videos can slow your phone’s speed.
Set aside 5-10 minutes a day to sort through your photo albums. Delete duplicate images, keeping the better ones in your opinion. Delete blurry images or screenshots you took of a quote you liked. This is a great practice to start and 5 minutes a day will feel like nothing.
#5 — Trash Bin
All the files and documents you remove from your downloads folder and main computer all end up in the trash bin. Don’t let these files sit in there. Make sure you take the extra five seconds to open the trash bin and empty it. The files you remove from folders won’t be completely deleted until you empty your trash bin. Plan to empty your trash folder once a week or every other week.
#6 — Apps
Be honest: How many times have you downloaded an app to use once? After you used it, did you delete it? Or is it still sitting there on your phone taking up space? Apps are great things to declutter because they literally take seconds to remove. They also take seconds to reinstall. So if you removed an app you need a month from now, it takes no time to put it back.
Your iPhone has the ability to hide apps so if you don’t want them on your main screen, you can hide them. To open them, use the search bar to find them. But I recommend deleting any apps you haven’t used in 6+ months. You can check this by going to Settings > General > iPhone Storage.
This will tell you the last time you used each app on your phone. Anything you haven’t used in 6+ months can be removed. Mind you, this is the iPhone directive. Androids and other phones will have a different set of directions.
#7 — Notifications
While you’re hanging out in the Settings of your phone, head on over to the Notifications tab and turn off every single notification. Notifications are productivity killers. They pull us away from deep concentrated work. They make us rush to our phones when in reality the notification is nothing that important.
Keep the notifications on for the most important apps like phone, messages, and email. Especially if your job requires constant email monitoring. If it doesn’t, turn off notifications for everything except your phone. This will not only help you focus more, but it’ll improve your productivity.
#8 — Text Messages
Text messaging has been the primary source of communication for a while now. You can even get texts to let you know when a shipment is on its way or when you need to verify a login. But saving texts can take up a ton of storage space.
Spend 5-10 minutes a day sorting through messages. Scroll all the way down to the bottom. Are you saving a text conversation from 2+ years ago? Probably best to delete it. If the conversation is something important (for say a legal purpose) take a screenshot of the entire conversation and then delete it. If that’s the case, consider printing a hard copy to have on hand.
#9 — Social Media Followers
Social media is a great way to connect with people from all over the world. But it’s also a place we can let get out of control if we let it. If you follow thousands of people, chances are you’re not seeing every single one of their posts because they’re getting lost in the sea of other voices.
Take an hour one day and look at all the people you’re following. If an account makes you feel negatively towards yourself or your life, unfollow them. If the person hasn’t posted in over a year, unfollow them. Like apps, you can always follow the person if they come back online.
It’s good practice to monitor the people you follow and only follow accounts that bring joy and positivity into your life.
#10 — History/Cookies
Like your computer’s trash bin, your internet history and cookies/cache are another source of storage that isn’t decluttered enough. Every time the internet saves login information or a website you visit, it’s making less room for new searches.
So if you notice your internet acting slow, don’t immediately assume it’s a Wi-Fi problem. Instead, clear out your history, cookies, and cache. The change you see should be instant. Make it a habit to clear out these things every month or every three months. They’re full of things to declutter and will definitely help your internet’s performance.
#11 — External hard drive or Flash drive
Because most of us are using laptops these days, external hard drives and flash drives have become important for storing files. But just like your laptop’s main hard drive, you want to regularly clean out unwanted files or documents on your external storage.
Set aside a few hours to open up the drive on your computer and ask yourself, Do I really need this anymore? Remember to include a delete date on the file name if it’s something you don’t need to hang on to forever. This will make removing unwanted files and documents a breeze.
#12 — Cloud storage
An external hard drive is not the only place you can store documents. The invention of the Cloud has made it super easy for people to access apps, documents, and folders on any connected device. However, if we’re not careful, we can store things on the Cloud that we don’t need which fills the precious space we have.
Check exactly what you’re storing on your Cloud in the Settings app of your phone. Uncheck anything that doesn’t need to be stored. Then be sure to login into your Cloud and delete any unnecessary files. The more you do this, the more storage you’ll have and the faster you’ll be able to save important items.
What are some things to declutter in your digital space that I didn’t mention here? Do you regularly declutter your laptop and other tech gear? Comment below. I’d love to hear how you take care of your digital clutter.
Want more decluttering tips? Check out this post on 10 things to declutter this summer.