It’s one of those things you either have under control, or it is so frightful that we all act like emus with our heads in the sand, and hope for a ‘rainy day’ to actually spend time doing the ‘digital declutter’.
As parents, I think it becomes especially difficult, as our time is so precious, taken up doing other important things. So I’ve developed a few tips and tricks to help you feel like you CAN reel it in and get it under control.
What does Digital Clutter look like?
If any of these sound familiar, then you know what I’m talking about:
- 1753 unopened emails in your Inbox
- 5 years worth of family photos in your Pictures folder
- 50 Folders in your email system containing information you wanted to keep about 2 years ago but haven’t opened (or filed since)
- a screen full of unused icons
Ultimately, you don’t need to fix all of this in one sitting.
Like learning to read for your little ones, a little bit each day really makes a difference!
There are 3 phases to digital de-cluttering.
The first is to clear and re-set, the second – decide on a system, and the third phase is to maintain your new systems.
Email Declutter Phase 1
The steps below can be done in 20 minute blocks over a few weeks.
- Sort your current inbox alphabetically. For each block of emails from the same sender hold down Control and click the top email in the group and the bottom to select all. DELETE.
1a. Unsubscribe if you haven’t opened ANY in the last 3 months.
This step will get rid of huge chunks of emails very quickly. Highly cathartic!
- Now you have a much smaller list, you can start to create folders for the ones you want to keep.
For filing purposes (like financial statements etc) create folders and sub folders based on month and year and click and grab them all and drag in to their folders.
- For emails that you want to save for personal reasons, create a folder for each person and click & drag those blocks of emails.
- For emails with photos that you want to keep, spend one evening right clicking each photo and saving into your Pictures folder. There really is no other way (Unless you want to use Evernote for personal photos)!
- For emails that you need to action, create tasks for them, to remind you, instead of holding the email in your inbox.
Phase 2 – setting up your folders and tasks is included above.
Phase 3 is tougher, obviously, or you wouldn’t be reading this in the first place.
Here are some suggestions for managing your emails.
- filing or deleting straight away
- UNSUBSCRIBE to everything you don’t have time to read.
- Use Evernote to store the pieces of information that you do want to keep, you can tag them, create folders, and store all kinds of info (ie file types, pdf info, videos, pics, audio, text.) You can separate them into work, personal, family etc and access it online or offline.
- Set up rules for your incoming emails. For example, send all of your online retail newsletters into a ‘Shopping’ folder, and leave as unread. That way they don’t clog up your inbox, or distract you, and you can sit down and do shopping when YOU want.
- Actually set time in your diary to address your emails every week, and do it! It is a part of life now, and it really isn’t a I’ll just fit it in around everything else task, because look what happens when you do that!
Here’s how I do it:
- I have a folder for each year, and every time I download my ipad/ iphone/ camera, I save that batch into a folder calling it “Ipad Download Nov”, or “camera Download July”.
- From there I create folders for major events/ holidays PLUS a misc folder. Then I drag and drop batches of photos in the right folder.
- If I have time, I will delete the terrible ones, but the main thing is that they are filed when I download. Otherwise you can end up with years worth of photos in one folder (!)
- For each child, I have a separate folder, and a folder for each year of their life until they turn 5. Then they go into the general year folder from the first point.
- I have also started creating a photo book of our family’s activities each year, so that we have a lovely summary of the year, and I love these books, so that actually helps me stay more organised!
- It’s probably wise to back them up to an external hard drive too.
Again, you can do this in 20 minute chunks, or on a rainy night with the music on and a glass of wine.
So I hope that helps you with the main issues in a digital declutter. Once you get into a 20 minute chunk of time you can actually churn through a lot. Set some regular time every week or so and you will have it back to normal in no time!
This was Part 3 in my Decluttering Series.
Check out Part 2 a Quick and Easy Kitchen Declutter
or Part 1 How to Declutter Any Room