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Sunday, June 22, 2014

25 Areas of Digital Clutter to Minimalize

An internet user and his leisure time are soon parted.” – Author Unknown

A clean, uncluttered room breathes fresh energy into your home and
life. In the same way, an uncluttered computer results in a more
enjoyable, fresh and productive experience. Don’t underestimate the
value of decluttering your computer. The benefits far outweigh the time
investment that is required.

To keep your digital clutter to a minimum, try attacking these 25 Areas of Digital Clutter to Minimalize.

  1. Inbox Messages - You remove the mail from
    your mailbox everyday. Apply the same principle to your Inbox. To
    accomplish this, if you can answer an email in less than two minutes, do
    it right away. If it will take longer, move it into a “work in
    progress” folder.
  2. Old Documents - Do you really need to keep
    everything that is in your Documents Folder? Doubtful. In fact, you
    could probably delete half of those documents and never regret it. If
    you don’t want to delete them completely, consider moving them into an
    archive folder so they don’t clutter your most-used document folders
  3. Old Software/Program/Apps - Windows users, remember
    that simply deleting a shortcut on your desktop is not the same as
    uninstalling a program. Be sure to use “Uninstall a Program” in your
    Control Panel.
  4. Desktop Icons - Remove as many icons from your
    desktop as possible. It is the equivalent of working at a cluttered
    desk. An even better alternative is to delete them completely (From the
    Desktop, Right Click > Arrange Icons By > Uncheck Show Desktop
    Icons). A clean desktop clears your workspace and allows you to
    concentrate on the task at hand.
  5. Folder Structure – Unless you don’t mind searching
    every time you need a saved document, you’ll need a good folder system.
    To get you started, rename any folder named “New Folder,” delete any
    folder with nothing saved in it, and develop a good structure that works
    for everybody who uses the files.
  6. Photos – Refuse to keep photographs that serve no
    purpose. You wouldn’t put bad photos in a physical photo album.
    Likewise, you don’t need to keep them just because there is space on
    your hard drive. Holding onto poor quality photos makes it more
    difficult to find the high quality ones when you need them. Always
    delete them before/during the import.
  7. Music/Movies – One of the best things about digital
    media is that you can have every song/movie in your library available
    at your fingertips. Unfortunately, one of the worst things about digital
    media is that you have every song/movie available at your fingertips.
    To keep them from cluttering your library, delete unused ones
    permanently. If you can’t find the strength to delete them, move them to
    a different folder where you can recall them manually if you need to
    (you won’t need to).
  8. Time On-line – Log on less. Your kids will thank you. The following article is a must-read for every parent: Plugged-in Parents Alienating Their Kids?
  9. Facebook Friends - Too many friends on Facebook
    makes it more difficult to keep up with the ones you truly care about.
    Finding out that your old friend from high school is taking her three
    children out for pizza might be interesting, but the never-ending flow
    of information is distracting you from the people sitting next to you.
    At first, it is fun to join the popularity contest to see how many
    friends you can get… but it is important to realize that you are not in
    high school anymore.
  10. Facebook Time-Wasters - Join less groups, play less games, poke less people, and chat less. For the sake of your real life, learn how to minimize your time on facebook. However, do join the Becoming Minimalist fan page on Facebook. After all, that’s where this post was written. Thanks everybody.
  11. Twitter - To improve your entire Twitter experience and to keep it productive rather than distracting, read Leo Babauta’s Minimalist Guide to Using Twitter. You’ll never use Twitter the same way again.
  12. RSS Subscriptions – Unsubscribe to blogs that are
    no longer updated or relevant to your life. If your reader has really
    gotten out of control and no longer saves you time, read How to Declutter and Streamline Your Google Reader Inbox.
  13. Internet Bookmarks – Delete bookmarks that are no
    longer needed. It is as simple as Right-Click > Delete. For the
    remaining bookmarks, use a folder system for quicker navigation.
  14. Cookies – A cookie is a small packet of text saved
    by your web browser that stores information unique to you and your
    browser history. Generally considered harmless, a large percentage of
    targeted advertising comes from information gleaned from tracking
    cookies. Cookies can be easily deleted by visiting Control Panel >
    Internet Options > General > Browsing History.
  15. Old Contact Information – Delete contacts that are
    no longer needed. Update contact information that needs to be updated.
    This will keep your contacts folder clutter-free and efficient.
  16. Passwords/Log-Ins - I use 1Password.
    It provides me with the security of choosing unique passwords for each
    of my protected accounts on-line without the headaches of trying to
    remember them. You’ll never go back to trying to remember them all
  17. Email Marketing – Unsubscribe to newsletters /
    advertisements that no longer add value to your life. Don’t just delete,
    unsubscribe. It should take only a few seconds by clicking the
    “Unsubscribe” link on the bottom of the email.
  18. Email Accounts - Nobody needs more than two e-mail accounts (work/personal). One is even better.
  19. Desktop Background – Appreciate the simple beauty
    of a minimalist background. A background that does not clutter your eyes
    or mind will improve your productivity and attention span far more than
    you think.
  20. Temporary Internet Files - Control Panel > Internet Options > General > Delete Temporary Internet Files. Done.
  21. Internet Home Page – How many times have
    you hopped on-line just to get a small piece of information only to be
    sidetracked by political news, sports scores, or celebrity gossip?
    Probably countless times. Here’s a quick tip: Change your Internet
    homepage to the minimal, unpersonalized There are no tangent
    headlines battling for your attention.
  22. Disc Clean-up/Defrag - A four-click solution on most computers. Start > Accessories > System Tools > Disc Clean-Up. To get really serious, read How to Analyze, Clean Out, and Free Space on Your Hard Drive.
  23. Upgradeable Digital Devices (Cameras, Thumb Drives, MP3 players, Cell Phones, External Hard Drives). If
    you’ve been making the most of technology for any length of time,
    chances are you have a small pile of old devices that you no longer use.
    If you can’t find somebody who would graciously accept a hand-me-down,
    recycle them properly.
  24. Cables - Your desktop is where you use your
    computer most. Don’t allow it to be overtaken by things begging for your
    attention and personal space… especially cables. Perhaps the solution for cable-clutter is not as difficult or expensive as you think.
  25. CD-ROMS / Hardware Manuals – If you no longer use
    the program, you don’t need to keep the CD. Likewise, if you no longer
    own the hardware, you don’t need to keep the manual. And to reduce even
    more paper clutter, see if your hardware manuals are available on-line
    (in pdf format, for example). If so, discard them entirely.
Tackling all 25 areas of digital clutter will almost certainly take
more time than you have available right now. That’s alright. There is
probably plenty of room in your bookmarks folder for this post. Just
save it under “Work in Progress.”

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