Eliminating Online Clutter: How to Organize Your Digital Life
As an old ADHDer I have a vast history of collecting necessary things in gorgeous piles. Bringing this habit online, my browsers, online players, cloud storages and daily online chats look like an endless fractal, full of notes, long reads, saved pictures, ideas, messages, down and further through the rabbit hole…
It’s inevitable that our lives online demand more and more presence. Talking to friends on social media, sharing files in online storages, using search engines for research, and activating online tools and apps – all these require our attention, leaving us with the daily headache of managing online data. Besides the excess of information, a long digital fingerprint affects your online security and privacy, allowing more online entities to check it.
It grows slowly.
You start a new research and in a few hours discover yourself buried under a new layer of tabs. Wow, how did it happen?
Unless you are an incredible digital patchwork artist, your tab collection is never going to Sotheby’s. But as it grows, it’s sure to result in more frustration. So maybe it’s time to let go of some online hamstering techniques!
Let’s explore how to organize a digital declutter and get to a new level of your well-being.
“How to organize your digital life” starter pack.
It feels at times that my operational memory is a map of digital routes to this or that piece of information. Sounds familiar? That space could be dedicated to good decision-making instead!
Different types of information get randomly stored in various places online and create confusion unless you work your way through the digital storage. Sometimes it takes days to remember which of the online storage contains a particular file that I saved for later. It’s impossible to find, as it has never been labeled.
The most common sources of online clutter are:
- Duplicate files
- Old photos
- Outdated emails
- Excessive media in your cloud services (e.g. videos, music, etc.)
- Unfinished projects and research
- Unused apps
- Unorganized downloads
- Unused links
- Unused bookmarks
- Unwanted browser extensions
- Unwanted media subscriptions
You can identify these items as the ones potentially creating a digital mess and take action before they spread and take over your laptop.
How to declutter your digital life?
There are a few simple strategies that imply both technical and psychological tweaks. This is not rocket science but will require some new moves from you:
Categorize files according to type, urgency and importance.
Sidekick offers Global search tool that memorizes the files you use the most and looks for them right inside your browser. Prioritize essential files and documents according to use with Sidekick!
Create folders and labels to ensure files are stored in an orderly fashion.
This helps a lot with organizing your digital life: handling your online storages, mailboxes and messengers with color schemes, short and clear names and themes that reflect your current activities and priorities.
Automate tedious activities by using up-to-date assets. Distinguish your various search topics and workflows with the use of Sidekick Sessions, Distraction Blocker and Focus mode, which will allow you to finish one task after another in an orderly manner.
Set aside time each week to review and delete old or unsupported files. If you turn sorting of your old files into a pleasant routine, this may result in a very neat and organized online life.
Use timeline to declutter digital life. It can be one weekend or the whole month depending on your personal capacity to handle chaos. Keep your goals realistic and break down the online sources into few items per take. Estimate how long each chunk will take and add more time to it, to be sure you are not pressurizing yourself and keep it at a comfortable pace.
Never start without a plan. This will leave you jumping from one task to another and leave you without well-earned fulfillment. Decide how you’re gonna approach each type of clutter before you handle it.
Offloaded Apps should be reviewed. And probably utilized since they are not active. Same concerns browser extensions. Consider adding Apps you really need right to your browser App panel – just as Sidekick offers to its users.
Utilize productivity tools to manage tasks and deadlines. We are just about to tell you more about the specific tools, stay tuned!
Are there any recommended digital tools or apps that can assist in decluttering and organizing my digital life?
Just like the ones that can sort out your financial mess, there are multiple ready-made instruments to handle your digital mess.
With online productivity tools practically becoming one more source of digital chaos, we’ll need to learn to prioritize. Define which platforms fulfill your everyday demands and limit those to the required minimum. There are many more than mentioned below, so do make your own research and share it with others who may need it!
Evernote: A note-taking app that allows you to store and share notes, lists, photos, and audio files in a centralized location.
Notion: A collaboration tool that helps you write, plan, collaborate, and get organized.
Notejoy: A shared workspace for notes, docs, tasks, and more that allows teams to collaborate efficiently.
Trello: A project management app that uses boards, cards, and lists to organize tasks and simplify complex projects.
Asana: A work management platform for teams to organize, manage, and track their workflows.
Dropbox: A cloud storage system that enables users to store, sync, and share files across multiple devices.
Google Drive: A cloud storage system with powerful tools for organizing, editing, and creating files.
Todoist: A productivity tool that helps you track tasks and goals, customize projects, and gain a better work-life balance.
RescueTime: An app that tracks your time and gives you insights on how to become more productive.
Fujitsu ScanSnap: A document scanning device that allows you to quickly and easily scan and store hard copies of documents.
By the way, it is super comfy to keep the important Apps inside your browser. You can unite all of them under the Sidekick umbrella of productivity assets. Do check the in-built task tracker introduced by Sidekick browser!
Once you declutter your email inboxes, digital files, and social media accounts you will already feel relieved. We’ve collected few ideas on a perfect digital clean-up sorted by platform.
Browser major cleanup list
1. Create sessions to divide your life spheres and projects to remove tabs clutter
2. Log in to your account in the browser, including platforms with multiple accounts to navigate within seconds.
3. Remove extensions and plug-ins you no longer use.
4. Clear cache, history and cookies. Your browser history can contain sensitive information, and cached files and cookies can take up large amounts of memory.
5. Manage your bookmarks. If you have a lot of bookmarks, consider removing any bookmarks you no longer use or need.
6. Unite all Apps in your browser to access them in one click
7. Remove sound disturbances with the Silent mode.
Learn about all these options with Sidekick, a fast browser that helps you to free headspace and finish tasks!
Mailbox major cleanup list
1. Unsubscribe from unnecessary emails
Go through your inbox and look for any emails from newsletters, brands, and other sources that you no longer want to receive. Unsubscribe from them by following the instructions in the email or visiting the website.
2. Archive or delete emails
Items such as old newsletters, promotions, or emails you no longer need should be archived or deleted. If you’re not sure you’ll need the email again, delete it.
3. Create folders
Create folders and subfolders for emails that you need to keep. This can help you organize your inbox and make finding emails easier.
4. Schedule cleaning time
Set aside time once a week or a month to declutter and organize your inbox. During this time, go through your email folder and delete emails, archive emails, or add emails to folders.
5. Use tools
There are several tools and services available that can help you manage your inbox and keep it organized. Services such as Unroll.me or Sanebox can help you prioritize emails, unsubscribe from emails quickly, and archive emails you need to keep.
Digital files major cleanup list
1. Create a system of organization that suits you. Organizing files in a logical structure will make it easier to find files or documents quickly. Consider using folders, subfolders, and a consistent labeling system.
2. Create backups. Create copies of any important files and store them in multiple locations. Consider using cloud storage, an external hard drive, or a backup service to protect data in case of hardware failure or data loss.
3. Clean up regularly. Clean up any unnecessary or old files and folders to keep the digital files organized.
4. Make a habit of saving files in the right location. Develop a habit of saving files in the right location and naming them properly. Create sub-folders or separate files for documents, images, videos, audio, and other types of digital files.
5. Set keyword tags or labels. Use keywords or labels to categorize files for easy searching in the future.
6. Use automation. Automate tasks such as backing up files or deleting old emails to save time and ensure the organization of digital information.
Social media account cleanup list
1. Unfollow or unfriend any accounts that don’t bring you value, positivity, or joy.
2. Unfollow or hide any accounts that post content you find negative, toxic, or inappropriate.
3. Delete any old posts that don’t reflect the person you are now.
4. Remove any photos or videos you no longer want to be associated with.
5. Make sure all posts and images are accurate and up to date.
6. Update your privacy and security settings to control the type of content that can be seen on your profile.
7. Check your notifications and update preferences as needed.
8. Set limits on how often you check and post on social media.
9. Remove any old profiles you no longer use.
10. Adjust the frequency of notifications you receive.
Online messenger cleanup list
1. Use labels to highlight chats and channels by topic.
2. Use folders for different subjects
3. Pin the most important conversations and messages within conversations
4. Don’t store files in messengers – they get lost, especially if the storage period is limited. Download files instead.
5. Create a channel with the archive of your media to share with others instantly.
6. Regularly review your “Saved” folder.
7. Care for Sound clutter as well! Mute your channels, unless it is crucial to receive messages instantly.
How to organize digital life in advance?
This will sound like advice from a boomer Accountant of the Year, yet the optimization recipes stay true and pristine throughout the generations. Let us know if you find more!
1. Stay organized by regularly filing documents and deleting unused files.
2. Create and maintain an organized naming system for your files.
3. Make a habit of creating folders for new projects or documents.
4. Monitor your subscriptions and delete unused ones.
5. Avoid unnecessary downloads.
6. Utilize productivity tools to manage emails and tasks.
7. Review browser extensions frequently and delete unused ones.
8. Use cloud storage solutions to store your files.
9. Unsubscribe from links and newsletters you don’t need.
10. If possible, archive or delete old files.
What’s the bigger picture?
When you fail to organize your digital life it is usually a sign of a few psychological factors that need a deeper investigation.
Among them are the tendency to put aside difficult tasks, disorganization and difficulty with decision-making. Fear of missing out, a desire for structure and control, or an inability to prioritize tasks are as important.
It takes time to admit, we don’t actually need all the information at the same time. There are many questionable stats around the net, regarding shrinking human attention span, but let’s say even with the wildest multitasking powers, we are still able to finish one task in a given period of time. So practically what you save for later, doesn’t help with the urgency of today.
Cognitive therapy methods prove worthwhile with internet clutter
Having all the hundred tabs looking at me simultaneously helps to maintain the illusion of control over my activities. It is not the best coping method, and I really wonder, how would I act in life if I didn’t have all that digital cornucopia to keep me busy.
If you feel your disorder is getting out of hand, consider seeing a cognitive therapist. Cognitive methods prove to be the most efficient when handling unproductive life patterns like cluttering the space. Some specific techniques that cognitive therapists may use to help people with digital clutter are cognitive restructuring, problem-solving, decision-making, and emotional regulation. Additionally, mindfulness exercises and other relaxation techniques may also be useful.
What matters is how we use the technology
Psychological factors also tend to be linked to our relationship with technology. For example, some individuals may rely on technology to help keep them organized, while others may prefer to keep task lists on paper instead. Regardless of the psychological factor in play, the goal of an online organization should be to help ease these psychological burdens and give us the ability to stay organized and clutter-free.
Does digital clutter mean anything for your online safety?
The less information you exchange with the online platforms, the safer your online presence is. And the shorter your digital footprint, as every piece of information about you is taking a bit of your private space out there in the cosmos of everyone’s data. Companies ask for your logins, contact details, and browsing history and provide you with better service and personalized offers instead. You can control this relationship by managing what you share online
Needless to say, it may take time to work on your digital decluttering, but trust me, it’s worth the deal!