How to Declutter Your Digital Life

This article originally appeared on Brit+Co on October 23, 2018. You can read it in its original form here.

“Does it bring you joy?” That’s the question Marie Kondo wants you to ask yourself every time you organize. Even if you’ve already KonMaried your life, there’s one area of clutter you may have forgotten about: your tech. For most of us, the sight of our Downloads folder does NOT bring joy. And decluttering your tech isn’t just good for your sanity — with so many of us seeking to improve our social media personas, paying our rent through online banking, and tracking our finances on apps, it’s also just good common sense to have all of our bases covered. Have you ever thought about what would happen to all of your photos if your phone or laptop got a virus, fell into your bathtub, or got stolen? So buckle in: It’s time to get your digital sh*t together.

Step 1: Declutter Your Social Media

Let’s start with the fun part: Decluttering your social media accounts. We say “fun” because the idea of reinventing your digital self can be kind of invigorating. If you’ve been saying for years that you really want to upgrade your Twitter handle to something more relevant, now’s the time to do it.

First, take stock of all the accounts you use regularly. If you have an account that no longer brings you joy, take the time to log in and delete it. Trust us, you’ll feel a lot better once that old MySpace page isn’t haunting you anymore. After you’ve done that, you’ll know what you’re working with, and it’s time for some housekeeping. Update your passwords for security purposes, and go through your privacy settings to review and adjust what you do and don’t want to share with your friends and followers.

Now comes the tough part: decluttering your friends and followers. If people you’re connected with aren’t bringing you joy (your, ahem, extremely un-PC uncle, or that social media influencer who always makes you feel like you aren’t good enough), do as Marie Kondo would do and either unfriend or unfollow them. Cultivate a circle of digital friends who inspire you and make you feel good.

Finally, update your bios and profile pictures, and go through and delete any old posts that aren’t representative of how you want to be seen in the world.

Step 2: Organize Your Photos and Files

Digging deep into your phone and computer is next. Go through your Downloads folder and your desktop, deleting any files you no longer need. What does remain should be organized into folders so that everything is easy to find.

This next step is going to take a while, so it’s time to sit back and get comfortable. Go through your old photos and delete anything you don’t want taking up your bandwidth. Duplicates, unflattering selfies, screenshots… There’s just no reason to keep this stuff around. Once you’ve gotten through all of your photos, you’ll know that everything you kept is something you want to look back on fondly.

Now that you’ve cut your collection down to keepers, it’s time to back all those photos up! Invest in an external hard drive to store a backup of all of your folders and files, or sync your most important directories with a cloud service like iCloudGoogle Drive/Photos, etc.

Step 3: Declutter Your Apps and Subscriptions

A lot of us sign up for services and subscriptions and then completely forget we have them. As a result, we often end up paying recurring fees toward services we never even use! Use a service like TrueBill to see what you’ve signed up for, or if you’re an Apple user, check your Apple ID account. Cancel any subscriptions that are no longer necessary.

Next, go through your phone and computer and delete any apps you don’t use. If you like, you can also reorganize the apps on your phone into folders so they take up less space on your screen and are guaranteed to stay thematically organized.

Step 4: Get Rid of Old Tech and Cords

Last but certainly not least, it’s time to get rid of all those old tech accessories! We ALL have cords that we don’t use… and frankly don’t even remember what device they belong to. Gather all of your old tech accessories (calculators, old mousepads, stray chargers, the USB floppy drive you haven’t touched since high school) and go through them one by one, keeping those you need and donating or recycling those you don’t.

What’s next on your decluttering list? Tweet us @BritandCo to let us know.