30-Day Minimalism Challenge // Day 3: Declutter Your Digital Life

Throughout the month of January, I will be doing a 30-day minimalism challenge to get a fresh start and practice mindfulness, solitude, and simplicity. Feel free to join in if you want, I posted an image with all the challenges for you at the bottom of this post for reference.

Minimalism and Zen go hand in hand. Minimalism is about not making life too cluttered, nor too busy. Minimalism is about not being wasteful. It’s about figuring out what true happiness is, not what advertising tells you it is. Anything that is unnecessary is wasteful, and in a world where the trash is piling up and none of us is any better for it, maybe it’s time to try a new way.

I’m starting with doing 30 days, just to give it a try. What I like, I’ll keep, what I don’t, I’ll toss.

Declutter your digital life

Take care of your digital clutter today: Spring-clean your desktop, delete any files you don’t need anymore and set up a simple, no-fuss folder structure.

Yesterday’s task was to declutter your digital life and honestly my digital life is such a mess that there is no way I could accomplish this in one day. My emails are in the thousands, the desktops on all the computers I use are in shambles, I have so many apps and programs installed that I never use, and I don’t even want to talk about the downloads folders, ugh!

I knew this was going to be something that would take at least a week, or longer, and a plan to keep things from getting bad again. I figured the best approach for me would be to break the tasks up over the whole week and make them a part of my daily to-do lists. For example:

Mondays // Emails

Monday is the day I get the most emails so I figure it is the day I should focus on keeping my inbox clean. It’s not like I get any important emails. Half of it is newsletters and information from sites and services I want to keep up-to-date with, the other half is social networking notifications.

I have realized that most sites and services have blogs, with RSS feeds I can subscribe to rather than receiving emails, and I probably don’t need to get an email every time some retweets one of my retweets. So on Mondays, I will evaluate my subscriptions with a service like Unroll.me, and turn off email notifications I don’t need.

Tuesdays // RSS Subscriptions

I admit it, I subscribe to anything and everything. I use Feedly to stay up to date with the blogs of any app I use as well as most news and pop culture sites. I have so many that I often get overwhelmed by the sheer number of new articles to read and I end up not checking it for weeks. When I come back to it I try to read every single one I can. I get caught in between there being too much information and me not wanting to miss a single thing happening on the internet.

I’ve started to think maybe I don’t have to read every single thing that gets posted. Maybe it’s ok to get rid of some of these subscriptions so I won’t feel so overwhelmed. So, on Tuesdays I will look over my list of feeds and get rid of whatever isn’t useful, is posting too much, or is too similar to another, more useful feed.

Wednesdays // Apps and Programs

I am guilty of downloading new apps trying them for a day and never uninstalling them. I have a hard time finding apps I actually use because they are hidden away in a sea of useless ones.

On Tuesdays, I’ll swipe through my apps and if I haven’t used it in the past month or so I figure I should probably uninstall it. I also have to be better about not installing apps in the first place. From now on I am going to try to only install apps I went looking for because I have a need instead of installing apps that I see in an ad and think looks neat.

In addition, I have gone back to using CCleaner to uninstall apps on my computer. If I haven’t used it in the last month or two, it’s gone.

Thursdays // Downloads and Desktops

The downloads folders on all of my devices forgotten lands of images I used for text replies, blog posts, or inspiration for future projects that never got sorted or deleted. Worse than that I have duplicate images and files taking up space between them and sometimes on the same device.

On Thursdays, I will look over my folders on my phone, iPad, personal computer, and work computer. I will delete whatever is no longer needed or upload it to a storage service like Google drive or http://www.dropbox.com. I’m also going to work on getting a new, more portable, external drive for saving images I have from Death to the Stock Photo and free design resources I’ve been hoarding.

Friday // Notes

I have a habit of creating a bunch of text files with bits of post ideas, poem ideas, things to read or look into later, writing resources, and more. I save them with the date as the file name and I rarely look at them again. Last week I started using Evernote again and spent a lot of time transferring those notes over, but I still haven’t done anything with them. I’ll probably end up just forgetting about them just like I did when they were sitting on my desktop.

From now on, on Fridays, I will look through my notes and turn them into actionable items with a due date or I will delete them. I think I’ll start using Todoist again for the reminders. Things that I am saving in case I need them later, a list of websites with grammar references, for example, will go into a notebook titled “Resources” so I can make it searchable. Later on, I might delete it since I do have Google at my fingertips to answer any question I might have.

*************

I’m not going to try to clean everything up all at once, the damage is just too bad for that. Instead, I think it’s best to chip away at it all the best I can week by week. The goal is to work on my bad habits that are cluttering my life and causing me stress.

Too often we tell ourselves that we have to subscribe to and follow everything. We think we have to save every funny picture or all 10 selfies we took when we only posted one. We think the space on our hard drives is infinite and we close our eyes when the mess becomes too much. Maybe we should be more aware of what we are doing on our devices and strive to make our digital life less stressful and full of clutter.

I want to get to a point where my online life contains only the necessary, the helpful, and the enjoyable.

*************

The idea for this challenge came from Into Mind. The rules for the challenge: Do one assignment every day, the order is your call. Don’t skip a day. That’s it.

30-Day Minimalism Challenge Calendar

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Lisa

Hello! My name is Lisa. I find the human condition fascinating and I often write stuff about that. I blog at zenandpi.com but you can also find me on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram, and if you like what I do, consider signing up for my newsletter. Thanks :)

2 thoughts on “30-Day Minimalism Challenge // Day 3: Declutter Your Digital Life”

  1. Friday notes… I usually advocate that writers not delete such caches of notes. I’ve come back occasionally many years later to pick up and work through ideas jotted down idly and have been glad I didn’t throw them away. Perhaps just minimize the number of files you stash them in, which will help with finding them again when you’re 40. ;-)

    BTW, I really enjoy your blog.

    Like

    1. Good point! Seriously, now that I think about it it would be great to have a huge “brain dump” I could look back on periodically with a new perspective. Thank you! :)

      Like

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