Digital declutter during lockdown

Empower your digital life while keeping yourself occupied

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Introduction

Coronavirus is forcing most of us on this planet to stay indoors. With all this surplus time in hand, people are finding different things to do to keep themselves entertained and most importantly, occupied. Why not use this time for something productive? Why not declutter your digital life? Here’s a few things you can do.

Reviewing social media activities

Over time you would have liked endless pages, joined various groups, followed a bunch of people and subscribed to a number of different channels. While it made sense to do so at that time, you may no longer appreciate that affiliation. This is a great time for you to go through all your social media profiles and, with a heavy heart, un-like the pages you no longer find useful, leave that group whose contents simply spam your feed, unfollow those people who don’t really add value to the time you spend on that platform, and unsubscribe from those channels whose videos make no sense to where you are in your life at this stage.

Check the apps you’ve given permissions to in the past and revoke those permissions if you no longer require them. With controversies happening in the recent past around data leaks, you don’t want some of the barely up-to-date apps still having access to your social media profile and data.

You can also use your social media accounts to login to various sites and apps, and while these third-party applications do not store your password, they do get some information from your profile. While you’re spending a lot of time indoors, reevaluate all the sites that have access and check what information they’re getting from your profile. If you don’t feel comfortable giving this info anymore, revoke the permissions.

Archiving old texts and instant messages

If you’re using an instant messaging app, you might find that there’s a long list of chats — not the conversation history with a particular person — I’m talking about the list of conversations with different people over time. Usually, from that list, the top 10 conversations are the ones you’ve messaged in the recent past and every conversation below that is usually just the occasional birthday or festive greetings. You don’t need to see those each time you open the app — go ahead and archive all those conversations.

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While you’re at it, also check your SMSes (yes, the old school regular text messaging on your phone!). While you may infrequently use them, you might have gotten a lot one-time passwords (OTP), alerts and other messages that you no longer required. Clearing these messages might actually buy you some storage space on your mobile phone.

Organising emails and unsubscribing from mailing lists

While it may not always be possible to achieve and maintain inbox zero, we can certainly use this time to be on top of our emails. My personal inbox tends to get full pretty quick — emails from friends and family, notification emails from different platforms trying to help me get up to speed of what happened while I was away, emails with invoices for the electricity, gas and internet consumption, emails from various newsletter subscriptions, and of course, the inevitable junk emails — wow, that’s a lot, isn’t it?

Observe the hidden patterns in those emails. Think about adding email rules so that emails that don’t need your urgent attention can go straight into a folder. Also, think about automatically adding labels to certain emails to spot them easily in your inbox.

Before you go ahead deleting junk email (I know you can tell from the subject line itself!), perhaps, take the time to unsubscribe from these emails to make yourself future-proof. Usually, there will be an unsubscribe link at the bottom of those emails. Most email providers like Gmail and Outlook also offer the option to mark emails from a particular sender as spam and potentially even unsubscribe too.

Paid subscriptions you no longer require

Alright, you’ve just cleaned up your inbox and have unsubscribed from a bunch of junk emails, but what about that website you’re paying every month to send you a bunch of curated news articles from around the world that you don’t even read? Or, what about that online learning platform that you signed up for but forgot to cancel your subscription and no longer use?

Spend some time going through your bank statements and see if you can spot any monthly or annual transactions being debited from your account. Reevaluate that platform based on your current situation and if you don’t need it anymore, cancel that paid subscription and save a bunch a money.

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Adding more space to your file storage

While digital storage space might not be an issue these days, why keep unnecessary files and folders on your system that you’ve never used since ages (and might never use it in the future)? If you’ve been paying for cloud storage, every gigabyte (GB) of unwanted files can take you closer to your max storage limit!

Deleting files and cleaning up your file storage can be hard, I know, so here’s a quick tip: Instead of deleting all the files that you no longer use right away, put them into a folder named ‘To delete in a month’. Add a reminder for yourself to check back in a month’s time and if you’ve never used any files from this folder, take pride in what you’re about to do and delete them permanently.

How do you manage passwords?

I’ve created so many accounts in the past few years that I probably do not even remember all of them. With so many internet accounts, comes a lot of passwords, and with a lot of passwords comes the responsibility of managing them. I’ve been using KeePass to manage my passwords and just like my email inbox, this can get quite cluttered as well.

Pause for a moment and look at the password management solution that you’ve been using. Is it organised to meet your current needs? Do you need to add or remove folders and hierarchies? Do you need to add labels or additional description and notes to be able to search them when you actually need them?

Thinking about backup and sync options

While going through your files, you might have found files and folders that you could classify as highly important to you. Do you have an active backup of these files and folders? Do you have an active backup of your passwords? If you don’t, then now is probably a good time to set one up.

Both OneDrive and Google Drive provide options to sync your computer with the cloud, so, you don’t have to manually back up files anymore, it will just auto-magically happen.

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Hey, what about offline declutter?

While I’ve outlined steps to declutter your digital life, don’t forget about your offline environment. If you’ve been feeling like you have too much stuff, then you probably do! Turn off your computer and think of ways you could tidy it up your space.

That’s it!

Thanks for reading. Give it a clap 👏 (tip: you can clap up to 50 times!) and share it with your network 🙏

You know what else can be done when you have a lot of time in hand?

Reading.

I’ve written a children’s bedtime story book titled ‘Mama, tell me a story’. Download my book from Amazon today. 🙂

Download ‘Mama, tell me a story’ from Amazon
Download ‘Mama, tell me a story’ from Amazon

Software developer. Teaches online at @skillshare. Created @lightnsparknpo. Author of http://mamatellmeastory.clydedsouza.net

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