Our lives are dominated by screens and measured in screentime.
Often we wonder, is that healthy? Of course, the answer is no. But this is the way it is in the 2020s. Screens are everywhere.
Our space is occupied. Our digital space too. And just as the physical space around us, decluttering and cleaning up can have a freeing and comforting effect.
It’s basic psychology.
Some ideas how to start.
One of my most-used, most beloved and at the same time most hated apps on the phone, tablet and laptop is the mail app. Apple Mail in my case.
We cannot live without email. But we CAN have a happy, healthy, clean inbox.
When it comes to digital decluttering, this is always my step number 1. Inbox zero.
I will delete mails I don’t need, archive the ones I do, reply to the ones that need action, and set up some filters if necessary for relevant, recurring actions.
Cleaning the inbox also means getting rid of unwanted emails.
And yes, I will go there. Unsubscribe from email newsletters you don’t read.
I know, blasphemy.
I run multiple newsletters myself. I love newsletters. But you know what I love even more? People actually reading the newsletters. There’s no value in cold subscribers.
So, just hit that unsubscribe button. No hard feelings.
If you want to know more about my dead-simple email setup, I wrote a story about that here.
Man, I hate files. Stuff that fills every digital inch of my hard or cloud drives.
I love to delete stuff. As with physical belongings, we’re often way too deliberate when it comes to keeping or holding on to stuff.
Sure, there are some things that need to be archived and kept. I have those. I keep those in an Archive in iCloud.
But I’ve learned to delete way more over the years. I like to keep a basic structure when organizing and storing files. One or two layers of folders, nothing more.
Searching is the key feature of computing. No need to manually construct dozens of subfolder-structures, only to forget the reasoning behind it a few months later.
Apps are awesome. Until they’re not.
Most are helpful. Some at least, but many apps are simply distractions. Having them on a device you keep with you all day every day, is a recipe for disaster… or distractions, at least.
Easy fix? Delete the distracting apps from those devices you have on you all the time. Mainly the phone, in my case.
No colors, no vivid images of people who have an awesome life on boats and parties when you sit a at home with a half-empty bag of Fritos in your lap.
It’s amazing how much a black and white setup dampens (literally) the addiction of social media.
Better save than sorry
A password manager is a must-have. I hope you know that. You need one. Unless you’re Amish and don’t need any passwords, you will need a place to safely store them, generate save ones, and remember your logins and accounts.
Most operating systems offer this out of the box. iCloud Keychain, Google Password Manager, etc. If you don’t use those, or need an extra layer, there’s a gazillion great options like 1Password, Dashlane, NordVPN, etc.
Just get one. It’s not really decluttering, but it’s keeping safety and accounts in check.
Finally, hit that delete (backspace) button more often.
As I said with emails, delete contacts you never contact (or like), unsubscribe from newsletters, unsubscribe from YouTube channels, Instagram accounts, Facebook “friends”, all the good stuff.
Backspace is your friend.
I also reguarly revisit my accounts list (from my password manager) and delete accounts I no longer use. No need to have an account everywhere.
The bottom line
Decluttering our digital lives can have profound impacts on our mental health and productivity.
Watching our social media intake is key, like a line from 10-Minute Digital Declutter reads:
“Rather than prioritizing social media, use it as a reward.”
By regularly tidying our inboxes, storage, apps, passwords, social media friends, and contacts, we free up mental bandwidth previously occupied by digital clutter.
The result is what truly matters: Free time.