We talk about simplifying our lives a lot here. By now you are all living in 400 sq ft houses with just 100 possessions, right?
Yeah me neither.
And that’s ok.
It’s also ok if you are!
The point is to work towards the level of simplicity that works for you.
One place we often don’t think of clutter accumulating is in our digital space, but it totally does. It can complicate our digital lives and make it difficult to get things done.
The Internet is a cool place. It’s filled with everything you could ever want to know. It’s also a dark hole where we can get sucked in and forget what we were looking for to begin with.
In order to be purposeful in our lives we have to be purposeful in the moments of our lives. That means being a better gatekeeper of—not only our physical spaces—but our minds, our time and our digital space. Not an easy task with all the awesome information out there waiting to be consumed!
So how can we slow down the influx of digital information, par it down and create a minimalist digital life? Here are 10 tips for getting rid of digital clutter and creating a digital life that is tidy and useful instead of messy and distracting.
Use 3 email accounts
I have my business email account, which I use for business, my main Gmail account and then an older Gmail account that is now my “junk” account. I think most people suggest using just 2 accounts but 3 works best for me and I’ll tell you why:
I don’t want to use my business email account as my main account for two reasons 1. It’s connected to my site so if my site goes away so does the email address, and 2. I like to separate business from my personal communication so if I want to take a break from “work” I can easily do that without missing personal emails.
I use my “junk” email account for coupons, promotions, etc that I don’t want to deal with daily. If I need something I will check this account for a coupon or sale but otherwise, since there aren’t any important emails, I can just delete them all at once.
Gmail also has a semi new function that separates different kinds of emails into different tabs which works really well if you’d rather have just one email address.
Check email at an optimal time each day
Making a habit of checking your email just once a day is a great way to save time but I find that when I check it makes an even bigger difference.
I have noticed that sometimes I check my email without the time or energy to devote to responding and then I end up marking it as unread and dealing with it later anyway. What a waste of time!
So, I try to check my email just once or twice a day—during OG’s nap and/or after she’s in bed for the night—when I have the time to respond. What I have found to be particularly useful about this approach is that I no longer have an inbox full of emails hanging over my head making me feel stressed.
Unsubscribe, unsubscribe, unsubscribe!
Every once in a while I go through my email accounts and unsubscribe from newsletters and email lists that are no longer useful to me. The fewer unopened emails I need to delete the better! Swizzle is a great tool to use for this. You put in your email address and swizzle finds all of the lists it’s associated with. Then you can decide which ones to keep and which to delete. Swizzle then compiles the saved ones into a daily digest.
Of course, having the forethought not to sign up to begin with would probably be the best choice!
Get rid of unused accounts
Whether they are social media accounts that you never use or some other service that you signed up for and forgot about, delete accounts that you don’t use. Then, update your settings in the ones you are keeping so you no longer receive email notifications for everything.
I usually set notifications to none, especially if I regularly go to that account (i.e. Facebook).
Clean your computer regularly
Set aside some time each month to go through and delete old files, bookmarks, and applications that you don’t use anymore. When I am working on something I use my computer’s desktop as a temporary holding place. Each month when I clean it up I delete files I no longer need and move ones I want to keep to their proper place.
How many times have you bookmarked something and then never gone back to it? I have so many bookmarks that I don’t even remember why I saved them. With so many bookmarks and folders I can’t find what I’m looking for anyway.
Recently I’ve started using Pocket to save pages that I want to check out later (when I have more time). Then I can add it to my bookmarks if it turns out to be a site I go to often. I clean out my pocket every so often which gives me a chance to check out the stuff I saved too.
Another great app
Using these kind of apps can help you keep your receipts, ideas, whatever, organized across all of your devices so you can cut down on the time it takes to find everything.
Organize your life in a few apps
Technology can make our lives simpler if we use it right (and much more complicated if we don’t). In order to keep from having an account for every app I try to find apps that will fit into my life and help me rather than distract me. THese are the ones I use:
- I use Dropbox to store files securely and share with friends. Bonus: storing files online makes them easily accessible from anywhere.
- I use Google calendar to organize my families schedules as well as my editorial calendar for.
- I use Evernote for almost everything. If you don’t know about Evernote yet then you are missing out! It’s fantastic for storing everything from bits of webpages to images to lists to emails, basically everything. The best part is that the basic account is free (and is all you really need).
Use technology to keep you focused
Do you have a hard time focusing when you are working on a task on your computer? I know I do sometimes. There are some really cool apps that can help you stay focused.
Be purposeful in which devices you choose to own
We all have some sort of digital life (obviously, or you wouldn’t be reading this right now) and choosing to have fewer connections to that digital life can make it less complicated and less time consuming. I don’t have a smartphone or tablet, mostly because I don’t want to pay for them, but I have noticed some advantages to not owning them.
I’ve noticed times when others would be using their smartphone (like waiting in a doctors office) I get to have a minute of silence or a chance to read a magazine article. It’s nice to not have the option because I know it would be difficult not to take that time to “get stuff done”.
Disconnect once in a while
No matter how many devices you have, consider taking one day every week or two to be totally disconnected. It can be tough but so rewarding. Choose activities that clear your head and give you a chance to refocus. Yoga, and outdoor sports like hiking and walking are some of my favorite ways to slow down my mind. I find that when I disconnect from my digital life I can become more present in my real life.
How do you simplify your digital life?
This post is shared at The Homestead Barn Hop