How many times have you opened your phone with a purpose and immediately started scrolling through a feed? I have. Way too many times to count. It is basically like walking into a room and forgetting what you were in there to do. It was time to implement digital minimalism to declutter my digital life.
Both the computer and your phone can become a hub for clutter. Unused apps, a desktop full of individual files, and a full trash bin. Our devices ask for constant partial attention. On the phone or the computer we are bombarded with notifications, e-mails, and ads. Things are trying to pull us in multiple directions, and this means we may drop the ball on some things.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all about the luxuries that technology has given me. The calendar in my phone, the beauty on Instagram, the fact that I can work entirely online without going into an office. This is truly incredible and has made my life easier. I just needed to do a major declutter to stay organized and have technology work the best for my life.
11 Ways to Practice Digital Minimalism
1. Get in the habit of closing tabs
Shut it down. Swipe up. Do what you need to do to close out your tabs. I know that there are two types of people- the ones with too many tabs to count, and the ones with only a few. I have always been one with only a few. Still, I found it was easiest if I just shut them all down after I was done working or searching. This way the next day I could start fresh and have a purpose without being distracted.
2. Unsubscribe to all advertiser e-mails
At the bottom of all that spam mail in the faintest color is the word “Unsubscribe”. Click it and move on with your life. We have all signed up for e-mails to get the 15% off your first purchase, but I did not want that to keep haunting my inbox for the rest of my life.
Recently, I decided that every time one came into my inbox I would open it and unsubscribe. I did this over the course of about two months and now have much less junk to sift through. It was easier for me to do it as they came in, rather than in a large chunk.
3. Unfriend, Unfollow and Clean House
Yes, I said it. The “U” word. For some reason unfriending and unfollowing has been labeled as the ultimate insult. I don’t feel that way at all. If you need to unfriend someone because their content is not to your liking, then do so. If you find that you are still friends with your entire high school graduating class, you can probably click unfriend a few times and be totally ok.
It is not an insult, just a way to ease the number of Facebook birthday notifications that ping your phone. Plus, having a smaller list of friends and connections, means your feed is probably going to be more to your liking and not cause as much stress.
4. Say No to Notifications
If your phone is constantly buzzing, ping-ing or god forbid flashing when you receive a notification it is time to turn some of those off. Notifications are easy ways to distract yourself. You will check your social media, and you don’t need to be told every time your best friend likes your photo. Pop into the settings on your phone and turn off at least a few of the notifications that cause your phone to blow up.
5. Categorize your Apps
Having pages of apps to swipe through on your phone is a little much. I made it a point to not have more than two pages (I am an iPhone user). My main home screen has all of the apps I use on a regular basis. Apps that I use less often stay on the second page. Periodically, I will wipe out and delete old apps. I can always download them again if I decide to use them more often.
6. Leave your desktop blank
Having your computer desktop cluttered in files can look and feel manic. Instead, opt for one folder on your desktop with multiples folders inside. Or opt to store your files in your documents and not have anything floating on the desktop space.
7. Delete the Downloads
The download folder on our computers fills up fast. Drag all of those files to the trash and then empty it. I have found that clearing this out every couple of months helps me stay organized and a little less cluttered.
8. Organize your Photos
Probably the hardest category for me since I take so many. I have yet to find a system, but I do attempt to create albums and clear the photos of my phone into Drive every once in a while. I’m consistent about deleting photos right after an event. I tend to take 5 of the same thing, but I at least remember to go back through and delete the extras.
9. Use Cloud Storage
If you haven’t yet, take advantage of cloud storage systems to maximize digital minimalism. I have started creating most things in Google Drive. I always keep a back up of contacts and important information on iCloud. Cloud storage makes me have some peace of mind in case my computer ever decides not to turn on.
10. Sign up for a Password Manager
I have used LastPass, but there are several password managers out there. You can also have google remember your passwords for you. I change my passwords regularly, so having to remember which one I am using can be hard. It was worth it to me to make a password manager a part of my life.
11. Label with Keywords
Our devices know we are not all that organized. That is why they have the search features built in. If you organize and label by keyword, this is helpful when going back to find the item. I try to do this with all my folders, and sometimes the files if I can remember.
Make Digital Minimalism a Habit
These things can creep up on you. Try to make it a habit to declutter your desktop and phone every month or so. Set a reminder in your phone so it even tells you when it needs a cleaning. Waiting until your storage is full can be a bit overwhelming, so I try to stay on top it and making digital minimalism an active practice.
I have also found that removing digital clutter allows me to be more productive on a day to day basis. This, along with a tidy “space” eases my anxiety with any sort of clutter.
What did I miss? What do you do to practice digital minimalism?