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The Clutter Most People Easily Overlook

May 12, 2024

Read time: 5 minutes

Over the last six years, I’ve had numerous interactions with people who struggle to get traction with decluttering. Although everyone’s experience differs slightly, some trends are worth sharing.

One of them is simple: Overlooking the amount of digital clutter you’ve accumulated.

Many decluttering newbies (and those looking to deepen their experience) focus most of their energy on the physical clutter controlling their lives. Then, they will eventually explore the mental clutter that has developed from the physical mess.

This is great because clearing the clutter in your physical environment and your headspace will take you a long way on your journey toward more clarity and clutter-free living.

However, one type of clutter that often goes unnoticed is digital clutter. It accumulates on our devices in the form of old files, unused apps, outdated emails, countless browser bookmarks, and extensive social media followings.

Since digital clutter is less visible than physical clutter, people tend to ignore it until it becomes overwhelming. So, taking regular time to declutter your digital spaces can help improve productivity and organization, reduce stress, and fragment attention. 

With that in mind, here are five mistakes to avoid when decluttering your digital clutter.

Five Digital Decluttering Mistakes to Avoid

Mistake #1: Being too ruthless

While it’s important to declutter and simplify, being overly aggressive can lead to deleting important files or apps by mistake. So, take the time to carefully review digital items before hitting delete and consider their potential value or relevance down the line.

Striking a balance between decluttering and preserving what’s genuinely needed or useful is critical to avoiding unnecessary loss and frustration.

Mistake #2: Forgetting about cloud storage

When tackling your digital clutter, it’s essential not to overlook the clutter that accumulates in cloud storage services. As someone who has dealt with digital clutter and currently uses Google Drive, I can attest that files stored in the cloud can quickly pile up and contribute to digital overwhelm.

To tackle this, it’s essential to review your cloud storage regularly and delete unnecessary files. From there, organizing the remaining files into folders or categories can help you maintain a tidy digital space and reduce stress.

Mistake #3: Ignoring email clutter

Inboxes overflowing with old messages, uninteresting newsletters, and spam can hinder productivity and cause unnecessary stress. Clutter like this is easy to ignore, and that means it has the potential to pile up exceptionally quickly.

Instead of ignoring it, you’ll want to take proactive steps to manage it effectively.

Start by unsubscribing from newsletters you no longer read, setting up filters to sort incoming messages automatically, and regularly archiving or deleting old emails. These three simple actions will take you a long way.

I like setting up filters and labels in Gmail, but I’ve also created multiple inbox sections and split my inbox by email addresses within my business. This makes it easy for me to check unread messages quickly based on the specific email addresses and aliases I have set up.

(In Gmail you can create up to 5 custom sections that you can view alongside your inbox)

Im not perfect, but maintaining an organized inbox can help you stay focused and efficient in your digital communication.

Mistake #4: Not setting up a system

Decluttering your digital space once is not enough to keep it organized in the long term. Without a clear system in place, clutter can quickly accumulate again.

Therefore, its important to establish a decluttering routine or workflow that works for you. This can include scheduling regular decluttering sessions, creating folders and categories for digital files, or using productivity tools to help you stay organized.

By developing habits that support ongoing maintenance of your digital spaces, you can prevent clutter from taking over.

Mistake #5: Overlooking social media

Social media platforms can be a significant source of digital clutter, with extensive friend lists and irrelevant notifications competing for our attention. Therefore, one of the best things you can do to reduce social media’s impact on you is to conduct a social media detox. This means taking a break from social media entirely for a specific period of time.

If taking a break from social media doesn’t interest you, at the very least, you should declutter your accounts by unfollowing inactive or irrelevant accounts and limiting notifications to reduce distractions.

Using social media intentionally creates a more focused and meaningful online experience — free from unnecessary clutter and unwanted distractions.

A Digital Decluttering Checklist

Regardless of where you are on your journey toward more clarity and clutter-free living, it’s easy to overlook digital clutter—especially when busy with work and life obligations.

However, managing digital clutter can be less overwhelming with the right approach.

Here’s how you can start doing this right now. I call it the U.N.D.O Method.

  • Unsubscribe and Unfollow: Unsubscribe from email newsletters and mailing lists that no longer interest you. Unfollow social media accounts that do not add value to your life. Be selective and curate who you give your attention to.
  • Never Delete (Archive): Archive important documents, emails, or files you don’t frequently access but want to retain for reference or legal purposes. Archiving helps reduce clutter while ensuring critical information is safely stored and easily retrievable.
  • Digital Cleanup (Delete): Regularly review and delete unnecessary files, icons, and documents from your digital workspace. Remove items that are no longer needed or relevant based on your priorities.
  • Organize (Folder Structure): Establish a systematic folder structure on your computer or cloud storage to organize your digital files. Categorize files based on themes, projects, or file types. Create folders and subfolders to locate and manage your digital content easily. Regularly review and declutter files within each folder to ensure they remain relevant and well-organized.

This streamlined approach to clearing digital clutter will help you curate your digital environment, reduce stress, and improve productivity. Everything matters when it comes to gaining clarity and moving the marker forward on your decluttering journey.

If this newsletter issue resonates with you, consider checking out my course, The Decluttering Starter Kit, which is re-releasing on May 29th. It’s a simple, systematic approach to decluttering that helps you produce lasting results.

If you’re not ready for a video course, start by using this digital decluttering checklist I outlined above and see how it works.

That’s all for today, my friend.

See you next week.

 

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