Minimalism #1: Declutter your digital life

Being a minimalist means that you value yourself more than material things.
Brian Gardner

So when it comes to minimalism and decluttering a lot of people seem to be overwhelmed and may not know where to begin. So let us start with something simple and manageable, but still very satisfying: your laptop and phone. This will almost certainly take a lot of time, but you don’t have to do it all at once and it will be worth it in the end. Social media and all our mobile devices should connect us to one another, but what I realized is that they may help us to keep in touch with those far away, but somehow it does isolate us from the people around us. Once you eliminated all digital distraction you will see the difference, you’ll have more time for important things as you will spend less time looking for things on your laptop, in your inbox or on your phone, as everything is neat and reduced and distractors will be reduced.

INBOX
Delete all messages that are no longer needed, like old booking or shipping confirmations.
Use folders to keep the important emails together, for instance one folder for university stuff, one for everything travel related and another one for bills and invoices, just use whatever folders are useful to you. If you have multiple email accounts, try to merge them.
In order to reduce your daily email load, unsuscribe from mailing lists and newsletters that you don’t read. Make it a rule: For every newsletter you receive in the time coming, scroll down to the bottom and hit the ‘unsubscribe’ link (or at least adjust the preferences to fewer mails).

DOCUMENTS
Delete every file or document that you don’t longer need (I’m sure you can delete that presentation from 10th grade without any regret) and don’t fall for the ‘just-in-case’ syndrome. Create a structured folder system to keep everything neat and organized. This will save you time when you’re looking for a certain file. If you are lazy you can use a program like Hazel that organizes everything for you. But I believe it is still better to go through everything by yourself once, just to get rid of things.

PROGRAMS/SOFTWARE/APPS
There’s just one rule: dump the junk! Uninstall all programs and apps that you don’t longer use. This will not only clear space on your hard drive, but you will also have fewer applications slowing down your computer. Win win!

DESKTOP
Just like a clean work space helps you focus and be more productive, so does a clean and organized desktop. I used to be that person with dozens (okay hundreds) of items littering up my desktop, but once everything is cleaned up you’ll notice the difference. Delete as many icons as you possibly can and move the remaining files into the respective folders.

PHONE/TABLET
This one will be a life changer! How many times per day does you phone buzz for something you don’t really want to know? On the first go, delete all the apps that you don’t longer use (like that tube map from last vacation), this will free some space. Then turn of all notification that you don’t need. Only use the location services for important apps, this will save you some battery.

DOCUMENTS/PHOTOS
This is my biggest problem. I have photos dating back to 2001 on my hard drive, some are in folders, some are not. Ever since using a smart phone things even got messier. My advise is to take the time to go trough all the pictures and organize them by date and event. If you’re using iPhoto or Picasa, do the same. Now every time you import new photos, delete the bad ones/low quality ones right away. No more mess here!

FACEBOOK
Too many friends on Facebook make you forget about your real friends! Unfriend everyone you wouldn’t greet on the street. Don’t stay friends with someone just for stalking reasons. Join fewer groups and pages and go through the ones you are already following and leave or unfollow every group that isn’t relevant to you anymore. Deleting ‘friends’ and unfollowing groups will leave your news feed nice and clean with only important information and posts that matter to you. This goes for social media channels in general, i.e. Instagram.

BOOKMARKS
This is a hard one too. Delete all bookmarks that are no longer needed. For the remaining ones use a folder system for easy navigation. Remember you really don’t have to book mark every single page, you will find things easily with just a simple google search.

PASSWORDS
More and more sites require a registration nowadays and it’s hard to keep track of which password goes where. Use a password manager like 1Passport to help you remember all of them. While we’re at it: delete all accounts that you no longer use.

DIGITAL DEVICES
I’m sure you have a ton of old devices that you don’t longer use, like old cell phones or MP3 players. Get rid of those devices that you no longer use or need and that have long been replaced. Sell, donate or recycle them. The same goes for cables, Remember that big box full of cables, some of them are so old you don’t even remember to what device they belong? (Yep, I had one of those too) Sort everything out that you don’t longer need and use.

CD-ROMs
If you don’t use the program you don’t need to keep the CD-Rom or the manual. If your computer does not read floppy disks (and I’m pretty sure it doesn’t) get rid of them. Now that we only use Memory sticks to store data, you can easily say good bye to all of your CD-ROMs.

This may seem like a lot, but, once you are done with all of the digital decluttering, you’ll be amazed by how freed you’ll feel!

Let me know how you’re doing on your journey to minimalism!

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