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Clean Up Your Digital Life | 5 Digital Organization Tips

April 19, 2023

It's officially Spring! Flowers and trees are in bloom. It's becoming the perfect time to hike, swim and dust off those white pants! Do you know what else Springtime means? Spring Cleaning. Typically this refers to yardwork or sorting closets, but there’s a bigger part of your life that could probably use some decluttering…your digital life.

Here are some tips to help “Marie Kondo” parts of your digital life and release some of the tension you feel when you open your computer or phone. Digital decluttering may seem daunting but try not to get overwhelmed; here are some ideas to help you get started!

1. Storage 

Before you begin digital decluttering, it’s best to pick a system of storage for photos and documents. Cloud storage options include Google Drive/Google Photos, Apple iCloud, or Dropbox. Pick one that works for you and stick with it. It helps to pick one that works across all devices so you can access the file on your phone or computer.

2. Email

Before we jump into photos and documents, let’s talk about email. We are all inundated with them. Some of us have more than 2 or 3 email accounts that get blasted with spam, shopping, and solicitations. Sometimes the emails that are actually important get lost. Most email platforms do a fairly good job of rooting out phishing or spam emails, but this next tip will change your life.

  1. Create a “Filtered Folder.” Every email platform is different, but most offer a way to set up specific folders to organize. Create a new folder and name this folder “Filtered” or something similar.
  2. Next, set up a rule that every email that has the word “unsubscribe” within the text of the email will go into this folder. Typically under the “Settings” area of your email platform, there will be either a “Filter” or “Rule” area. Create a new filter/rule that says every email that has the word “unsubscribe” in the body of the text, will automatically move to the Filtered Folder. This catches about 90% of non-important emails. Companies have gotten sneaky, and some try to get around this by saying things like “If you no longer want to receive emails, click here” instead of the word unsubscribe. When that happens, you can set a specific rule/filter for that company.
  3. Click on your Filtered folder to see all these emails. You can read the ones you want or “select all” and delete. It’s amazing.

Here’s a pic of my Yahoo email so you can see what this might look like:

  • If you’re feeling froggy, you can create more filters/rules to send emails to specific folders you create. All emails from Kate at TimeWise go to my Kate/TimeWise folder – etc.

Bonus tip: iPhones offer a VIP option. If you know you don't want to miss an email from a company or person, you can make them a VIP in their contact record on your iPhone. Their communications will show up in a separate folder.

3. Photos

We live our lives with an actual camera in our pockets 24/7 because of the invention of smartphones. Photos can eat up a ton of storage on your phone, so having a good cloud storage option is crucial. Make sure your photos save to your selected storage option (ex. Google Photo, iCloud, or Dropbox).

  • Similarly to what you did with your email, create folders or Albums for your photos too. It is much easier to locate a specific photo if you know when/where you took the photo. I utilize Albums like Spring/Summer 2023 or Christmas 2022. Some of my albums are people-specific. You can even create one for just the dog or another personal interest...😊
  • Set time aside to get rid of duplicate photos or ones that you would consider to be "bad shots" (ex. ones with closed eyes). Looking at them does not bring you joy, so why keep them?
  • Screenshots, selfies, and videos take up a boatload of storage space too. Get rid of those.

4. Documents

  1. Set up some folders to organize your documents and treat them the same way you treat your photos.
  2. If you hold on to paper docs, shred, shred, SHRED. Identity breaches can cause up to $20,000 in damage on average. You don’t need those check registers from 1998, or statements from last year. If you need a statement you can request one from that company or download a new one online most of the time.

Shameless Plug: As a client perk, we offer a shred event every year where you can drop off up to 3 banker boxes of documents for us to securely shred. This event is typically in mid-April and for current clients only!

Closing Tips

I’m a big fan of using family sharing. I use a shared family calendar with my husband and the kids. Apps like AnyList can be accessible to everyone in your household. If you are a Smart Home person who utilizes Siri or Alexa, AnyList works with both. It can also be accessed on your desktop computer, laptop, or smartphone. Here's a real-life example of how your family can use Anylist:

  • When someone runs out of deodorant, they can tell Siri or Alexa to add deodorant to the shopping list. That list is accessible to everyone and usually, Siri or Alexa can tell you if deodorant has already been added to the list.

Anylist also has a recipe area where you can upload a recipe directly from a website (super handy) and meal planning options. You can purchase the app for free or as a $14.99/year subscription to share with the family. You can also gift a subscription. I use it daily! There are a ton of other apps out there that do the same thing. Do some research and find the one that works best for your family.

Family calendars are crucial if you have a lot of activities to organize. You can create family calendars through Google or Apple, invite who you want to share access to that calendar, and help keep everyone on the same page. If someone wants to schedule something, they can check if there is anything going on with the family first. It’s handy!

Some final tips are:

  • Take your time, and don’t overwhelm yourself. Pick one area per month to get the swing of it.
  • Set aside time to declutter. Pick 10-15 minutes a day to go in and delete emails. Choose “select all” and delete them all at once. You’ll feel so much better!

Hopefully, these tips have been helpful. If you want to chat more about what apps I use or other ideas, feel free to give our office a call (770 420-2954).

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