Day 26 – Digital Space | 31 Days of Decluttering

Hello friends! 

After letting go of any toxic social media accounts yesterday, we will declutter and organize your digital space today. Sounds daunting? Don't worry, you'll only have to spend 30 minutes on this today.

In the same way that "analog" possessions require maintenance and clutter up our bedrooms, kitchens, and garages, digital belongings such as photos, text documents, music, apps and programs can clutter up our digital space, aka our computers. They need to be looked after and organized from time to time. Here we go!

The Goal

  • an organized, manageable digital space
  • keeping track of what's on your computer
  • quick access to most frequently used programs/apps
  • more memory space 
  • improved folder structure
  • increased productivity
  • helping your computer run better

Guiding Questions

Do I know where to find which document?
Do I still need this document? 
Is this program/app useful?
Do I have thousands of unsorted photos?
Any music that I don't like to listen to any more?
Old documents I don't ever use or need any more?
Do I keep this "just in case"?
When have I last used this program/document?

Working Steps

1. Declutter

Grab a cup of coffee or tea, and boot your computer. Today's decluttering session targets:

text documents
desktop icons
internet bookmarks
Download folder

2. Go through your guiding questions

Do you have 50 selfies that look more or less the same? Reduce them to a handful! Do you really need to keep everything that is in your Documents folder? Doubtful. What about those old essays, or those notes from now obsolete projects? 

3. Assess and organize

Select ONE folder or area to start with. I suggest your document folder, your music, or your desktop. Start by going through ALL your documents and delete any that you no longer need.  

Get rid of any
  • old and irrelevant documents (e.g. of finished projects)
  • unused software/programs (don't forget to uninstall before deleting!) 
  • (random, homeless) desktop icons
  • similar photos
  • blurry photos 
  • meaningless videos
  • music you no longer like
  • movies you don't intend to re-watch (or ever watch)
  • bookmarks that are no longer needed

Think of your photo collection as a physical photo album – don't keep the crappy stuff. Only your favourites!

Empty the trash! (such a satisfying thing to do after decluttering 😌)

Now that you've removed any unnecessary documents we're going to archive what's left. When it comes to organizing your digital space, I suggest the following:

  • Invest in a good filing system. Use folders and subfolders to stay on top of things. Start with general folders such as "programs" and "documents", then create subfolders such as "music", "pictures", "texts", and further subfolders such as "Christmas songs" or "short stories" – don't forget to name every file properly!
    Example: DOCUMENTS -> PICTURES -> TRAVEL -> "2017-05 London" (so your photos from your trip to London in May 2017)
  • Create specific playlists such as "Christmas", "Study Music", "Soundtrack", "Party" etc 
  • Also use folders to sort your bookmarks for quicker navigation – the more specific the better! 
  • Instead of cluttering your desktop, keep your most frequently needed applications in your taskbar
  • Let the browser ask where to save downloads. Instead of letting your downloads go directly to the Downloads folder, where you will most probably forget about them, add it to an existing folder, or create a new relevant subfolder. Don't forget to name it!
  • Make it a habit to empty your downloads and trash bin weekly

You may also want to look at a program that will clean your hard drive for you, such as CCleaner (it finds and removes junk files and errors on Windows PCs).  

Also, consider renting or streaming instead of buying or downloading (movies / music) to save storage space.

4. Backup

One last and very important step to take care of your digital space is to regularly BACK EVERYTHING UP! I can't emphasise this enough.

I use an external hard drive disk to back up semi-important files (photos, music) in case something happens to my main computer. For my "super important" files (certificates, stories) I use the software SVN to save my documents on a private server and access them from different devices. 

Of course, you could also use a cloud system such as Dropbox or OneDrive, but personally I don't trust these hosting services any more than I trust my main computer. Who knows what will happen to my files if they float about in the cloud...

5. Celebrate

Hooray, you're done for the day! I'm not going to lie. Decluttering, whether it's your home or your home computer, is an exhausting process. It requires a lot of decision-making, but the feeling afterwards is totally rewarding. 

Reward yourself with a treat of your choice today! A face mask? A donut with sprinkles? Your favourite movie? – See ya tomorrow! :)