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Digital Decluttering: The Basics

The clutter around our homes is easy to see. From clothes piled up in the corner to an overpacked closet, this messiness — while easy to overlook at times — doesn’t go completely unnoticed. Our digital clutter, on the other hand, often goes unseen and neglected, that is until it causes a device to slow down significantly or an important email to remain unread. 

Just like with the stuff around the house, it’s healthy for our minds as well as our devices to go through an occasional purge, or “digital decluttering.” First, what is digital clutter? Put simply, it is the disorganization of a device. It could be a crowded email inbox, an overloaded desktop or apps that haven’t been touched in years. Research shows that this hoard of digital information — and the stress of constantly sorting through it — can actually be just as anxiety-inducing as other kinds of messes.

Fortunately, there are many ways to go about digital decluttering. A great place to start is to utilize a service or tool designed to make the process easier. For instance, backing up and mitigating important files onto a cloud-based storage service allows someone to purge data from the device without losing the information. There’s also hardware that can help, such as an external hard drive or flash drive. These can be loaded up with old photos and documents to alleviate the digital burden on the device.

Other ways to purge is to simply delete or clear unwanted mess. With the various web browsers, there are functions to help such as “Clear Browsing Data” and “Clear History.” Last, but not least, one problematic area for many people are email inboxes. All those read and unread emails take up space and cause a range of issues. To clear a full inbox quickly, you can select all messages and use the “Archive” function. Then, create categories with folders or labels for incoming emails. This helps sort emails as they arrive, which makes it easier to either save or delete them going forward. Finally, go through and unsubscribe from services, organizations and other sources you no longer use. That way, you won’t get as many emails — and potential clutter — in the future. 

Written by Great Plains Communication, a fiber internet company