Is your laptop groaning under the weight of your screenshots?
And your downloads?
And your photos?
And, if you were being honest, you’re suffering from a touch of digital declutter shame as you can’t remember the last time you organised any of that stuff?
I completely understand. I’m right there with you and I’ve decided to take back control of my digital world by having an end of year digital declutter. Care to join me?
Let’s empty out our digital junk drawers and brave the digital garage so that we can reclaim our creative energy.
What I will declutter before the end of the year . . .
How many FB groups are you in? Have you counted recently?
I was in 41. That is nuts!
I left 10 of them right away. I wasn’t active in them or they were really quiet so there is no point in me being there.
I’ve weeded out another 9 – they were pop up groups for a particular challenge. I didn’t want to leave them. Just. In. Case.
Just in case someone posted something life changing that was only ever going to be posted in that group.
Right. A bit crazy but we all do it.
A great group can lift you up, provide support and intriguing conversations. Anything else is simply a distraction.
Do all of the groups you’re in provide you with something that will lead you towards fulfilling your focus in 2017?
If not then it’s time for a clear out!
Bookmarks & Favourites
There you are, browsing away on the internet. Oh! That’s a great article I’ll save it to come back to it later.
Except later never comes and you end up with a long list of titles that are a complete mess. Why did I save that again?
I started organizing my favourites earlier this year by creating folders and moving some of the articles that I constantly refer to within those folders.
My favourites are still out of hand so I’ll be reading 5 a day until the end of the year and thinning them down to something manageable and useful.
Facebook Post saves
Strolling through FB on a work break.
“That’s a handy hint for FB ads. I want to make that great recipe. Oh tips for travelling in Chile, that’s going to be useful.”
At last count I had saved 231 posts. Good grief!
Are you seeing the theme here? My focus has been easily distracted by what I’m reading but I’m not reading it with enough depth for it to actually be useful.
If you don’t have a system in place (and I clearly didn’t) then all those saves are going to creep up on you.
I’m going to pick a day next week, pop on a podcast and get reading and deleting.
Take some time to sort through your FB saves. Delete what isn’t useful. Put a note in your diary to read what is.
Who has an out of control inbox? It’s time to take back control of your emails!
Emails can get out of hand so quickly. There are client emails, emails you subscribed to and emails you have no idea why you are getting!!
Check out https://unroll.me/. It’s a great tool that will show you every single email you’ve subscribed to.
Be ruthless and unsubscribe from any emails that don’t bring you a ton of value and support your goals for the New Year.
I’m pretty good on this as I regularly unsubscribe from what I don’t find useful.
Even more emails
Did you know that you can choose when, and where, you read your emails?
“Ahh of course” I hear you say as you wonder how many coffees I’ve had while writing this.
Before you start a coffee intervention I wanted to point out that so many of us spend a HUGE part of our day reacting to emails rather than being in control of them.
I do this myself. If I’ve been foolish enough to leave my emails open and a new message flashes I can’t help but go see what it is.
This is a monumental waste of our creative energy.
I’ve now set up a system to manage those emails that I don’t want to see. I set up filters for the emails that will be coming in (if you don’t know how to do this simply do a google search for this topic and your email provider’s name) so they automatically go into the folders that I’ve set up to receive them and never touch my inbox.
Make sure you schedule a time in your diary to read them because . . . I didn’t! So I ended up with over 500 emails in my folders which is another energy suck. Each time I went into my emails I’d see that number getting larger and larger and wonder when I’d ever get time to read them.
Don’t be an email hoarder like me.
I have over 300 of these puppies and NONE of them have been named.
My screenshots folder is like the cupboard in Monica’s apartment (did you see that episode of Friends) that must NEVER be opened.
Another spot to clear out. This one might be two podcasts worth . . .
Are the folders on your laptop beautifully organised? You know exactly where everything is and can reach it in a couple of clicks?
Or can you Never. Find. Anything.
Mine are organised. Phew! Here you were thinking I was completely unorganized person.
This is one area where I am super organised. I think it’s a hand over from my corporate lawyer days when we arranged things by folders and you never want to lose anything in a law firm.
Map out a folder structure on paper first so that it makes sense to you before you create it on line. These are some of the folders you could have:
⇒ Clients (contracts, contact information)
⇒ Content (newsletters, blog posts, courses, editorial calendar)
⇒ Marketing (social media, graphics, photos)
⇒ Admin (finances, website copy, tracking stats spreadsheets)
Well what do you know? I’m all sorted here.
I started out well by creating folders to store items in, plus I had a tidy up in here a few months ago. Sweep the cobwebs out of the corners, dusted the shelves and now the place is look spic and span.
The same goes for Dropbox. There are folders with names that make sense and my documents are very easy to find.
This is another area where there is no digi shame for me.
When I download something I save it straight to the relevant folder that I’ve created.
I’ll have an occasional download in there but there isn’t somewhere that needs a clear out.
These are 90% organised. They have to be as I have over 20,000 of them.
I’m a photographer as well as a business strategist so it’s really important for me to be able to easily find photos.
I use a catalog within Lightroom to organise me and I’m constantly refining how I organise my work.
You can use a simple folder structure to organise your photos.
Do you have a folder where you stored unfinished online courses or ebooks.
The kind of folder that has dust bunnies jumping around because it’s been so long since you’ve even opened it.
Take an honest look at those courses and e-books.
Do you still want to finish them and it’s simply a matter of making the time? Or did you sign up on a whim and don’t actually need them.
Read or delete.
I have 6 ebooks that I have and I want to read them all. I’m pretty rubbish with reading ebooks as I like reading paper books so it can me ages and ages to read the electronic versions.
Backing up your work isn’t the sexiest of topics but you will get your knickers in a twist if your hardware fails and you don’t have a back up!
You need a system in place to back up each of your devices (laptop, phone, tablet) and your external hard drives.
At some point those devices will all fail. It’s simply a case of when.
If you use the cloud to back up to, please regularly check that your files are actually being backed up. I’ve known of friends who thought everything was backing up to the cloud automatically only to discover there was a glitch and they’d not backed up for months.
Always back up at least two locations.
Two external hard drives. One external hard drive and the cloud.
I had a great plan before I became a digital nomad this year to buy two external hardrives and back up at least once a week to both of those drives.
Except they didn’t work when I tried this. It took weeks of going and forward to their support desk to get them working. Yah!
And then I upgraded to Windows 10 and the drives stopped working again.
I’m now going between 2 different support desks to get them working as they should which is not a hell of a lot of fun.
In the meantime I’m having to fudge my back up a bit:
- My website is automatically backed up online each day
- My laptop has a LOT of information on it (the red warning sign is a familiar one in my world)
- My laptop is backed up once a week to one of my external drives.
- My other external drive has some of my photos on it, these are also uploaded to the cloud.
This is not the prettiest system but it works until I can get answers from the support desks. Then I’ll be able to smoothly back up to both of my external hard drives at the same time.
Time for a declutter
If you have digital clutter shame you know it’s not going to go away until you take action.
This mess didn’t happen overnight, it took years of dedicated hoarding to get this way. So it will take you awhile to do a full declutter and have it all looking sparkling and clean for your creative self to play in.
Start small so that it’s not too overwhelming. Declutter your smallest digital junk drawer first and go from there.
Share in the comments below if you suffer from digi clutter like me.