Just like your physical environment, your digital environment plays a role in your mental health. Unused apps, old files, a full email inbox–all this clutter adds up, and it can get overwhelming really quickly. The purpose of a digital declutter is to clean up all the digital junk in your life and create a more appealing, stress-free work environment.
7 Steps to a Digital Declutter
Ready to start your digital declutter? Here’s how!
STEP 1: Take stock of your digital environment.
First and foremost, you need to get a clear picture of what’s going on in your digital environment.
Which apps do you use most, and which do you rarely use? Which are distracting, and which are genuinely helpful? How much time do you spend on your devices? What do you spend most of your time doing? Are your phone and computer equally cluttered, or is one more organized than the other?
The better you understand your digital life, the more effectively you can declutter and simplify it. Get honest with yourself about what’s necessary to hold on to and what parts of your digital life you can let go.
STEP 2: Back up the important stuff.
Before you go deleting things, be sure to back up any important files. These might be treasured photos, financial documents, files you need for work, contracts, or receipts. Organize them, and store them somewhere secure.
I like to keep all of my important documents and files in two places: my computer hard drive and Google Drive. That way, I have a local copy and a cloud-based backup in case anything goes wrong with either platform.
STEP 3: Clean up your files.
Next, clean up any unnecessary or unwanted files. Start on your phone. Delete old screenshots, blurry photos, duplicate files, and downloads. If there’s a photo or file you want to keep but don’t necessarily need on-hand, back it up in Google Drive or Google Photos, and then delete it from your device. Get rid of old text threads and clean out your voicemail.
Then, do the same for your computer. Clean out your downloads folder, declutter your desktop, and dig through your documents to get rid of any duplicated or blank files. You can also use this time to look through your applications folder and delete any softwares or programs you no longer use. (Be sure to also cancel your subscriptions for anything you’re still paying for!)
Remember: By this point, you’ve backed up all your most important files. If there are any files you don’t need to access regularly, don’t be afraid to remove them from your desktop.
STEP 4: Delete unused and distracting apps.
Now, it’s time to really dig in! Take a long, hard look at your phone, and delete any apps that you 1) don’t use or 2) get distracted by.
This step can be difficult. There are plenty of apps you probably use often (like Facebook, Reddit, or TikTok) that you might not use at all for your business but find yourself turning to often for distraction. When you find yourself in a standoff with an app, ask yourself:
- “Does using this app benefit my life or business?”
- “Do I need this app on hand 24/7?”
I use Instagram often for my business, but instead of it triggering a scroll hole, I’ll respond to DMs on the desktop app. This has been a game changer!
If you get easily distracted by apps you do need for work, set some boundaries. Create time limits for using those apps, or hold yourself accountable for only using them for certain purposes. It takes willpower, but creating healthier digital habits is always worth it.
STEP 5: Tackle your inbox(es).
Nothing brings me quite as much peace as opening my Gmail to find an empty inbox. Now, let’s create that same peace of mind for you!
First, put any important emails into folders. Think receipts, client-related emails, and anything you reference often. Even if you have to keep a lot of emails, it’s better to have them filed away than sitting opened in your inbox.
Next, delete the junk! Clean out your inbox, promotions folder, and junk mail. Then, enjoy your beautiful, empty inbox!
STEP 6: Create a calming digital environment.
Whenever I declutter my devices, I also spruce them up. For me, that means rearranging my apps, finding a pleasing wallpaper, and making my devices a little more calming. You can use Canva to create a wallpaper with a personal message, affirmation, or vision board. If you want to get really inspirational, rename your app folders with affirmations like “I am wealthy” for banking apps or “I am organized” for calendars and to-do lists.
I also recommend all my clients turn off unnecessary notifications on their computers and phones. This will help you avoid distractions and focus more fully on your work during the day.
STEP 7: Set boundaries with your devices.
The best way to maintain your digital declutter? Set boundaries with your devices! In my 4-step Break Up With Your Phone Guide, I teach you how to create a healthier, more balanced relationship with your phone so you can work more efficiently and live your best life.