Digital declutter in three steps


By Beehive Money

Declutter online life
The pandemic offered us all more free time and many of us decluttered every cupboard in our homes but, our digital clutter must have doubled (or worse!) in size? We were all online much more than we usually were over the past two years so there must be a backlog of unlistened to podcast episodes, unopened emails and apps that no longer get used - Houseparty anyone? 

Have we taken the time to downsize our digital lives again now lots of elements of 'normality' are back in our lives and we no longer need so much solo-entertainment or social media?

Physical clutter can get in the way, make our homes feel untidy and generally put pressure on our everyday lives and digital clutter is exactly the same but, it's all stored in one little place that we look at multiple times a day - reminding us that it's still there! With so many emails, passwords, podcasts and subscriptions mounting up managing our phones and laptop can become a full time job - here's how to declutter your online and digital life.

1. The clear out stage

This'll be the best, or the worst bit depending on what type of person you are! The hard work starts now. 
  • Unsubscribe indefinitely
    Get rid of emails that you know you delete every day or every week anyway. Or, even worse the ones you just leave in your inbox unopened. We see you, Mr 20,000 Unread Emails. Some email apps have bulk unsubscribe or will even prompt you to unsubscribe from an email you haven't read in a few weeks - take their hint! 

  • Organise your photos
    Delete the screenshots of restaurant menus you don't need and the aisle numbers of things you need to pick up in IKEA - you don't need these! Then, file the ones that you do want to keep with a photo-sorting app - there's tonnes of these on app stores so you can choose whichever one you fancy. Plus, once they're organised you might want to actually print some out and add them around your home.

  • Podcast purge
    Yep - all of those self-help and positivity podcasts that you don't listen to because you purely listen to food podcasts? Give in and delete them - save yourself the space on your phone and let yourself be the listener that you naturally are. 

  • App amnesty
    It's getting rhyme-y up in here so we must mean business. Our phones can get so cluttered with unneeded and mostly one-time use apps and it's time to break free. If you only ever use one food delivery app, delete the others! Be ruthless, you can always download them again if you *truly* miss them. Then, once you've had your clear out, think about organising the apps that you have left. Whether it's by colour or by topic - get sorting.

  • File or delete
    This is a new game for all the thousands of documents, images and forms we all have on our laptops on our desktops or in download folders. This one might take a while if you're a prime digital hoarder but trust us, it's worth it. Go through all of your files and downloads and simply get rid of what you don't need or want to keep and file the rest in a way future you will be thankful for.

2. The detox stage

It's time to detox. We probably all need email, especially if you use it for work, online banking, grocery shopping etc. This isn't a total detox forever and we're not saying you can't use your phone. This exercise is all about removing unneccessary things like mindless Facebook scrolling, notifcations that give nothing to your life and 100+ Black Friday emails from stores you'll never shop at.

Pick a time period and remove unneccessary social media and phone use. This could be anything from a weekend to a 30 day stint but it's time to detox your digital life. It might seem hard to start with but you'll feel great when it's done. Delete social media apps that you want a break from and reduce temptation to even pick it up by leaving your phone in a different room whilst you're eating dinner, watching a series or spending time catching up with friends. 

Focus on your fitness, read one of the stack of books on your bedside table, continue lockdown hobbies like knitting. Actually watch a film without looking up the actors on IMDB. Or, it's the perfect time to travel or experience something without documenting it on your phone.  During this time, if you do need to use your phone or the internet just make sure you're using your online time to serve you to continue your detox, offer you something you really need that supports your needs. This could be necessary life admin or listening to the podcasts you actually enjoy whilst taking a walk. If you can go completely cold turkey and not use it at all - that's totally up to you!

3. The re-introduction stage

After your detox period is up (the longer the better to really see the benefits) can you list some of the things you've missed about not being on your phone all the time? This is probably a very short list.

Can you think about three things that you've done instead or you've made a special effort to do? There are probably more than three. You can gradually reintroduce things if you're keen to get back connected online but remember the core principles of decluttering and not keeping anything that you don't need and your phone hopefully won't get as overcrowded as it might have once been.