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Are You Due For a Digital Declutter?

25 June, 2021


When it comes to our living spaces, decluttering is important; most Indian households diligently do declutter periodically. Some do it for festivals like Diwali, Christmas, Sankranthi, etc., and some others make it a seasonal thing, like spring or summer cleaning. But, just like our living spaces, there is another space that we all inhabit, rather more deeply – our digital space. A digital identity is as much important in today’s world as our physical existence. This consists of everyday emails, messages, texts, social media posts and attachments, photos, videos, documents, unused apps, etc. 

With most of us part of WhatsApp or Facebook groups, interacting with people using emails, the umpteen messages and texts that we receive are piling up on our devices. Our laptop, phone, mail accounts, social media accounts, cloud storage, etc. too need a periodic cleanup. This is important to keep track of important things and make it easier for our loved ones when we are no longer around. Perhaps, the first time we do this, it will take a slightly longer time, especially if we haven’t ever done it or haven’t followed some discipline so far. But, it is important to take this step, and once done, a few simple rules can help us maintain the digitally decluttered life easily. 

Audit all accounts

An audit of your accounts would mean a scan through your email, social media and any other digital accounts, like even your Google Drive and Google Photos, etc. If you find too many promotional or spam emails, read carefully through the mail to find the unsubscribe option, click and complete the process. This will ensure that you do not receive any more emails from that account. This may look like a tedious process once, but it is worth the cleanup, and you will be rid of everyday irritation. Mostly, we ignore or delete such mails, and thus the saga continues.

With emails, you could also archive all emails that you want and even label them for easy access. However, there is no need to create folders as most modern emails have easy search options. If you like, you could create filters that would automatically ensure the emails move to a folder/label for periodic checking.

In social media accounts, please check if you are part of ‘dead groups’; sometimes groups are created for specific purposes, or you may have been added to some groups where you are not active in any way. Exit such groups, and you will no longer receive any notifications for those groups. Next, look through Google Photos and Google Drive to see if you have unwanted, scattered pictures and documents lying around and delete them to free up space. It’s best to organize Photos and documents into meaningful folders, so there is easy access and clarity on what it contains. Also, it is a good idea to run through your friends or followers list and declutter it to remove such accounts that have been mostly dormant/silent. 

Clean up the devices

A good cleanup of your devices like your phone and laptop, followed by some good practices, can make life much easier. For example, if you have a cluttered desktop on your laptop where you have saved all your downloads, please do a thorough cleanup. Check, delete or create folders and move all files/documents into meaningful folders. A clean desktop is a good indication of an uncluttered digital space. In addition, it is a good idea to use browser settings to clear the browsing data that should remove all passwords, auto-fills, and cache data.

When it comes to phones, you could choose to backup your WA conversations if you need to by choosing the right settings. This way, you can recover something if you need it and keep your phone fast by periodically deleting the conversations from groups. One common issue seen in most phones is the many apps that lie around without being used. These can slow down your phone by using the phone memory and space. Hence, audit the apps and uninstall all those that you haven’t used for a long time.

Even the phone home screen can be kept clean by grouping your apps into meaningful folders. First, keep some easy access ones on the home screen based on your convenience. Then, check notes if you use them on the phone, delete unwanted ones, and the gallery and downloads section. 


Best practices

Once you are done with the above decluttering, it becomes extremely easy to follow certain good practices to minimize the next decluttering sessions. Here are a few tips and tricks to follow:


Use settings to allow or disallow auto-fills, syncing, privacy and security related features, etc. This may make decluttering easier later on. Also, if you use bookmarks in browsers, delete unwanted ones. 


Use an external hard drive or cloud storage to reduce the usage of storage space on the laptop. Use the defragmenting option to ensure the file systems on your computer is more organized and performance increases. 


Do not download any unwanted apps, or if you do for a specific purpose, then uninstall after the purpose is served. Mute notifications of all social media and other apps to not get disturbed/distracted throughout the day. Move all photos, documents, videos, music files, etc., to your cloud storage space. Consider using a digital locker for storing important documents.


Passwords are an important aspect of digital space; never save them in your browser, laptop or phone. It is better to type them out every time you log in to an account to do the transaction. Ensure strong passwords that do not reflect your or family member's names, date of birth, etc. Change them often, and do not share with anyone. Wherever possible, apply a two-factor authentication that ensures that you get an OTP on your phone before the transaction. If you are digitally savvy, then you could consider using a password manager.

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