A new year blossoms. Out of a cold, dreary winter into a blooming spring. You know it’s time to open your windows, feel the fresh air and clear out the back of your closet. Every year, we get rid of old things that are gathering dust and are of no use to us to make space for new items that we may use. Spring cleaning is an age-old tradition followed in almost every part of the world. It seems like a huge undertaking, yet there is something so satisfying about decluttering and getting organized. But have you ever stopped to think about your life in the virtual world? What of the digital data languishing in your cloud storage or on old devices, accounts, and information stored on obsolete websites? What about digital spring cleaning?
Our lives have been split between the real world and the digital one for the past couple of decades. Moreover, the number of devices that we use to communicate and interact with each other has increased as well. The more time we spend online, the more data we gather, some known like messages and images, and some unknown like browser cookies that pile up behind the scenes.
Extensive use of the internet for almost everything means that we may not be able to avoid a growing digital footprint. However, we can take some steps towards digital decluttering. Before we plan how to go about digital spring cleaning, let us understand what it entails.
What Is Digital Spring Cleaning?
Digital spring cleaning is simply the act of regularly clearing out digital clutter accumulated over a period of time. It doesn’t have to be spring for you to give your digital spaces a quick cleanup. How often you do this depends on the kind of work you do, how you spend your time online, and the number of devices you use to access the internet.
What Is Digital Clutter?
Digital clutter includes long-forgotten files like spreadsheets and documents, one-off accounts on shopping sites, outdated apps on devices, memberships in online forums or websites, etc. We don’t really need any of it, yet we let it sit around either out of sheer laziness or other pressing issues. This clogs up your devices affecting their functionality. Not to mention, even a digital mess can have a negative impact on your productivity.
Digital clutter is basically a disorganized mess of data, files, and devices that present themselves in various ways. It could be a crowded desktop, inbox, or phone storage. It is estimated that employees spend 45 minutes a day searching for information essential to their jobs. This is an added stress caused by digital clutter.
Clearing up your digital clutter can reduce anxiety.
Why Is Digital Spring Cleaning Important?
If you had a choice, would you choose to live and work in chaos or from a neat and tidy area? We guarantee you’d pick the latter. We function better when our surroundings are in order. The same goes for our digital spaces.
Many companies use digital workspaces to maintain communication, assign tasks and follow up. This is more prevalent with the pandemic and more companies readjusting to remote working scenarios. The digital load has increased alarmingly due to the new work-from-home culture.
Earlier, we could just hop over to the next desk or cubicle for a quick question to a colleague. However, we now have to ping our colleagues or shoot emails for the smallest of doubts. This, in return, adds long email threads, an increased number of recipients, and attached files to the ever-growing list of digital clutter on your devices.
Let’s talk a little about our personal lives. We’re heavily dependent on the internet for nearly everything. We have countless apps on our phones ranging from food delivery to entertainment. More apps are being released every other month. Not only do these apps take up space on our devices in themselves, but you also have to watch out for vampire apps. 80% of the apps on your phone continue to remain active in the background, use data and drain your battery.
A routine deep clean, not unlike the one you do for your home or office, can go a long way in keeping you clutter-free online.
The digital age has led to much innovation and growth. The first ever hard disk drive had a memory of 5 MB in 1956. Fast forward 66 years, and we have phones with an in-built memory of 1TB available in the market! Once upon a time, we would hit the storage capacity and have to delete apps or files to make space. Today memory space is nearly boundless; we take over a dozen pictures without batting an eyelash. We download apps to perform any task under the sun.
This ever-growing mountain of digital clutter and the barrage of apps leads to a buildup of information on our devices. And some of this is sensitive information that could wreak havoc in the wrong hands.
Digital decluttering is not only about addressing poor device maintenance but also protecting ourselves from security breaches. It’s about taking some time to address and clear up clogged devices. To breathe fresh air into our devices and have them function optimally for us.
So the question is, where do we begin?
Marie Kondo + Digital Spring Cleaning
Marie Kondo is an established Japanese cleaning consultant. Her bestselling book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” helped people around the world to tidy up their homes and office. She also has a popular Netflix show, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” where she helps people beat the clutter that’s holding them back.
Marie Kondo is the inventor of the genius KonMari Method which is a minimalism-inspired approach to tackling your stuff category-by-category rather than room-by-room. She has six basic rules to get you started:
- Commit yourself to tidy up.
- Imagine your ideal lifestyle.
- Finish discarding first. Thank each item for serving its purpose before discarding it.
- Tidy by category, not location.
- Follow the proper order.
- Ask yourself if it sparks joy.
She applies these rules to six major categories of belongings, i.e., clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items), and sentimental items.
Now we know that Marie Kondo is the expert in organizing living spaces, but what if we were to apply these principles to our digital clutter?
The rules remain the same, but the categories can be redefined as images, videos, documents, apps, and sentimental digital items.
Ask yourself if it is necessary? Does it spark joy? If the answer is ‘no’ to both these questions, then be grateful for its purpose well served and hit that delete button. Once you are left with things you want to keep, it’s time to sort by category. Use folders to break down and discretely organize everything in its place. This way, you’ll easily be able to access what you need when you need to.
Digital Spring Cleaning Checklist
If you’re feeling a tad bit overwhelmed by the prospect of doing your own digital clean-up, don’t worry! We’ve made an easy checklist for you to use when you decide to dip your toes. Just download and save it to your phone or computer and use it to perform your own digital spring cleaning effectively!
How Can Digital Spring Cleaning Help You?
If you still have your doubts about the necessity of a digital deep clean. Here are a few ways in which it can really help you:
- Shoot Up Productivity:
- Time is money. Reduce the amount of time wasted in sifting through disorganized piles of information. A cleaner device means faster navigation and improved productivity.
- Turn the Stress Down:
- It’s easy to be overwhelmed when surrounded by clutter and chaos, and the same with digital clutter. An organized virtual space can reduce stress levels.
- Diminish Cybersecurity Threats:
- The more sensitive information you have lying around, the more susceptible you are to hackers. Taking charge and organizing your important files in safe storage can lessen security risks.
- Be a Friend to the Environment:
- Digital waste is waste too. Our digital footprints are linked directly to our carbon ones. It takes up the energy to store and transmit data even if we can’t see that happen. So do this for Mother Nature!
- Accelerate Device Speed:
- Imagine trying to walk a mile with 200 pounds of junk in each hand. It’s going to take a while, right? The same is true for your devices. Routinely cleaning up space on your device gives them a boost.
There’s no upside to being a digital hoarder. The sooner you clean up your digital space, the better off you’ll be. We hope you found this a valuable and informative guide to digital decluttering.
A little bit of caution and organization goes a long way in maintaining your digital clean-up for a long time. Let us know how you practice digital minimalism in the comments below.
It is very nice, creative & noteworthy. Keep it up,
Bad habit still stuck, always clean up the files when purchase a new laptops or PC.