ecluttering my physical surroundings
changed my life. Getting rid of the
things I didn’t need or that brought me
down gave me space to breathe and
feel more peaceful. Once I started, I
knew that this would become a lifestyle
for me and that I could never go back.
Once my physical possessions were
under control, I realized that although I
had taken the time to clear out my clos-
et and my bookshelf, I had let myself
hang on to digital possessions long past
when they served a purpose. And just
like with physical clutter, removing dig-
ital clutter reduced stress and gave me
peace of mind. So even if you’ve KonMaried your wardrobe
and narrowed down your books and files, you’re not done
if you haven’t decluttered your phone and computer. That’s
where I come in.
With essentially unlimited digital space available, it might
seem silly to monitor how much you’re using on your devices.
But the problem isn’t limited space—it’s the limited mental bandwidth we have to keep track of it all. Hanging onto
things, whether physical or digital, takes up some of your
memory and awareness, and depending on what exactly it is,
it can cause you more stress than you realize. The following
are just a few ways you can start organizing everything from
your text messages and emails to your photos and notes to
help you create a more zen digital environment.
Clear Out Old Notes
I once created a very in-depth folder system on my laptop
that involved many levels of subfolders. The system was very
logical and I could usually find what I was looking for. It worked
passably for a few years, until I ran out of space and moved
the whole folder system onto an external hard drive. I didn’t
look at the hard drive again for years. What was in it? Useless
documents called things like “ 24 things to do before age 24” or
“Tuesday to-do list” or “Potential jobs to get Sept 2012.”
These notes were useful to me at the time as a “brain
dump” exercise where I would just write down a bunch of
ideas to help better sort them in my mind. Before the age of
everything-digital, people used to brainstorm their ideas on
real paper. And then they would crumple the paper up and
throw it in the trash when they were done. But today, we
tend to CTRL + S every single file we create just in case we
need it later, thus immortalizing our digital clutter.
These days, I constantly write digital notes, but I only keep
a few at a time. Instead of keeping multiple to-do lists, I have
one, which I keep adding to and checking off items as I complete them. I try and take care of any other notes I create
ASAP so I can delete the whole thing and move on. I hang
on to work-related documents only until that project is over.
And anything uploaded online to a blog or shared workspace
doesn’t need a second copy on my hard drive.
Keep Only Your Very Best Photos
Most of us keep literally hundreds if not thousands of pho-
tos on our iPhones and computers. Paring down your shots
will make it so much easier to enjoy your photo collection.
To do this, first make a decision about where you’re going to
store your photos, and keep them contained to that place.
Are you going to keep them on your computer’s hard drive,
or online in something like Google Photos? Are most of your
images stored in your phone’s Photos app or on Instagram?
You only need to store one copy of any given photo. (Do keep
the original version you care most about so that you have the
highest resolution if you ever want to print and frame them.)
Next, get rid of duplicate shots, blurry pictures, or group
photos where someone’s eyes are closed. These will be easy