Digital Spring Clean: Declutter Your Devices and Your Mind
Start the season off by decluttering your device, and enter spring with a fresh mind and clean devices!
By: Natalie Holmes
The rewards of a good spring cleaning are many, from freeing up space you didn’t have before to that unique feeling of satisfaction — and those benefits are just as relevant to your digital life. Here are our top tips for decluttering your devices, with step by step instructions, so you can start the spring season with a clear desktop and a tidy mind.
Start with Your Apps
Let’s be honest, we tend to only use a handful of apps, while the rest just clutter the homepage and memory. While your fingers seems to remember the exact location of your favorite apps and select them in a matter of seconds, it’s still worth deleting those you rarely use. So, go to your Settings or Tools menu and then to Apps. Here you’ll find a whole list of your apps, and can uninstall as desired. It’s also a good opportunity to check the permissions of the apps you keep, to make sure they only have access to the data and features they need to function.
And Clean Up Your Software While You’re At It
Just like with apps, it’s worth doing a quick inventory of the software on your computer. It’s likely you’re running unnecessary programs that take up space, which in turn affects the performance of your machine, making it slower and harder to use. If you’re using a Mac, go to Finder > Applications, and then move anything unwanted to the Trash. If you’re using Windows, the uninstall process varies a little depending on what version you have, but generally you’ll have to head to Control Panel or System to find a list of apps and programs. Don’t worry: You’ll get a warning if you try to remove anything important. Alternatively, you can run an uninstaller program to do the dirty work for you.
Make Room For The New
Do you really need that three-year old shopping list? What about those blurry selfies and videos, or those accidental screenshots? These days, the files we create take up a huge amount of space, and that only increases as technology evolves and allows us to shoot in higher definition.
Get into the habit of regularly scrolling through your files and moving anything unwanted to the trash. That way, if you mistakenly discard something, there’s time to retrieve it. Start by getting rid of videos and photos, as these take up most memory. Text files are much smaller, but bulky pdfs can still clog disk space.
Conversely, there are plenty of precious photos, videos and digital documents you’ll want to keep forever. In that case, it’s important to back them up, either into the cloud or onto an external hard drive — or both. Once you’re sure they’re safe, you can delete them from your device to free up space for enhanced performance and newer and better files.
Reclaim Your Inbox
Inbox hygiene is another useful habit to start developing. Start by deleting emails that are taking up lots of space (search by size), then search by date to remove old and obsolete messages. Then, remove yourself from mailing lists you no longer find useful or interesting. Do this either by unsubscribing manually — Gmail and Outlook make this easy with an Unsubscribe button at the top or bottom of messages, respectively — or use a program like Unlistr or Unsubscriber to take back your inbox from all the spammers!
While you’re at it, why not go through your social media accounts and unfollow the people and pages you no longer want to hear from? Cleaning up your feeds makes room for the people, causes and brands you do care about, as well as giving you more headspace.
Just like an old fashioned spring cleaning, digital decluttering requires some planning and hard work. It takes time and thought to decide what’s really important to you. But just like the analogue equivalent, the results are truly gratifying, both practically and emotionally, setting you up for a year of optimal digital performance.