How to Execute a Digital Declutter Like a Boss: 8 Steps

9 min read
How To's, Reviews & Recommendations
By: Maddy Osman

It’s easy to gather clutter on your devices, computer hard drive, email inbox, and cloud storage. Thanks to Marie Kondo’s new Netflix show, organizing the home is currently trending and organizing your digital life can be just as satisfying. In fact, clearing out old paper work and digital assets is one of her Konmari checklist items!

So ask yourself: do you really need to keep that file… “just in case”?

The answer is likely no.

These strategies will help direct you through the process and Clear the Clutter.

Why Spend the Time on a Digital Declutter?

Dealing with messy paper files or mail that never gets sorted is stressful.

You know that if you ever want to make use of the actual important things in these piles, you’ll have to create some level of organization. But it can be so overwhelming to just get started.

It’s more or less the same situation when dealing with digital file clutter.

Until you get rid of the files you’ll never use again, and sort important files that you want to keep into an understandable filing system, your stress level will fluctuate every time you’re in a situation where you can’t find something you need access to.

If you haven’t seriously audited and organized your digital files in the past few years, there’s no time like the present to start a new habit. It’ll improve your quality of life moving forward and it’s absolutely worth the time it takes to get on top of things.

Ultimately, it’ll also help improve your workplace productivity — especially if you work from home.

Here’s how to execute a digital declutter like a boss, one step at a time:

#1: Organize Your Email

If you just focused on getting one aspect of your digital life under control, it should be your email.

For many, the goal of Inbox Zero is just that — a goal. In the meantime, dozens, hundreds, thousands of unread messages keep piling up and it’s hard to justify spending the time to get your inbox under control.

But with a few smart strategies, your initial time investment in organizing your email will pay off over the long term.

Here’s how to take charge of the situation, if you’re using Gmail (no other service quite measures up in terms of productivity features):

#2: Smartphone Organization Tips

You’re already playing with your smartphone throughout the day, so why not use some of that time more productivity?

Specifically, add these items to your digital declutter to do list:

Just don’t forget about your photos.

#3: Organize Images in a Usable Way

Truly, a digital declutter should focus on images as their own category as we humans place such great importance on them.

Some ideas to organize and audit images:

#4: Computer Storage Organization Tips

Cloud storage has revolutionized how people deal with digital files. But while you might not store everything directly on your computer’s hard drive anymore, you still need to spend a little time organizing computer files as part of a digital declutter.

Here are the most important steps to take:

#5: Cloud Storage Organization Tips

Your most important files should live in the cloud so that you never have to worry about what you’d do without them. Also, so that you can access them wherever and whenever you need them.

Just like your computer’s hard drive, whatever online storage solution you choose will inevitably become cluttered. Start with a solid organizational structure and regular audits to purge the files you no longer need.

Here’s how:

#6: Organize Your Digital Footprint

A digital declutter isn’t just about dealing with files. It’s also about dealing with digital accounts — especially those that represent your public online persona.

Some suggestions:

#7: Periodic Digital Audits to Conduct

On a quarterly basis, plan out a digital declutter that consists of the following audit activities:

#8: Use These Digital Declutter Tools

Using these tools has assisted greatly with my efforts to execute a successful digital declutter:

General Tips for a Digital Declutter

When it comes to planning your digital declutter, your list may look different than mine. Regardless, these miscellaneous tips (that I couldn’t fit anywhere else) can help regardless of your specific approach:

Check out this blog post from National Business Furniture on how to declutter the rest!

Final Thoughts: How to Execute a Digital Declutter Like a Boss: 8 Steps

Putting the effort into a proper digital declutter can end up being a huge time suck but it’s all for a good cause. By proactively spending the time to create organization around your tools and files, you’ll save time in the long-term and you’ll save mental energy otherwise reserved for tracking down files you need access to.

The more often you execute a digital declutter, the less total work it will be on each occassion. Aim for a complete digital declutter at least quarterly (or break it up into smaller steps on a weekly basis).

While you’re sorting out your digital identity, you’ll want to make sure that your physical work environment complements your efforts. If you’re ready for an upgrade, check out these articles about upgrading my workspace and decorating my first home office, featuring my new desk set from National Business Furniture.

Use code BLOG10 for 10% off any office or organization products!

What else would you add to this digital declutter checklist? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Join the Discussion (4)

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Digital Clutter is everywhere today so thank you for this read. I do have a question about #3: Organize Images in a Usable Way. First off, I love the direction to create a consistent name/file folder structure. I do this and it saves so much time looking for favorite photos. However, what do you suggest for renaming the actual images? Do you have a favorite tool or do you do it one by one? I help families organize their photos and I am always on the lookout for professional suggestions. Thanks!

Rita,

Thanks for stopping by to share your thoughts. 🙂

I don’t have a great answer for what I plan to do currently but what I used to do was store all of my photos in Flickr, then add tags. So I didn’t actually rename the files, but could easily filter and sort all of my photos by the year I took them, the place I took them, and other tags that might be relevant. If you think up a better system sans-Flickr, I’m all ears!

Maddy

Maddy,
Thanks for sharing your system. I used Flickr too, but when they switched to their paid model I did some research and found another paid service that I liked better. The challenge many of my clients have incurred is when they use a proprietary software’s system and tag and filter that all that work is gone if they want to use another system or if the service they are using goes out of business. I do like SmugMug but I am a big fan of owning my photos and then using a service like SmugMug for sharing and cloud storage. This is a great topic – would love to talk about in more detail if you want. 🙂