4 Digital Decluttering Tasks You Need to Do

There are many decluttering and spring cleaning are projects accomplished this time of the year. They are practical winter tasks and give a sense of accomplishment when finished. But have you ever thought of decluttering technology?

Recently, I completed some significant technology decluttering. Many documents on my computer weren’t in folders, making them difficult to find. My photos were a mess, and even my phone was running out of storage.

But I did some digital decluttering, and as a result of my success, I’m sharing 4 digital clean-ups you can start this weekend. 

4 digital decluttering

1.   Consolidate and clean up computer files

With many people working from home because of COVID_19, desktops and laptops got heavy use. If you use your personal desktop or laptop for both work and other personal tasks, it is probably time to organize folders on that computer’s hard drive and make deletions to free up space. 

You’d be surprised at what takes up the most space on your hard drive.

The most extensive files on your computer are often things like full backups from your smartphone, photos, and downloaded movies. (1)  Another is unneeded pre-installed programs we never got around to deleting. Deleting temporary internet files and browser history on a regular basis can also help. (This article at Wired gives simple steps to manage storage on Windows 10.)

Organized photos are easier to find. 

A good default is to file photos in folders labeled by month and year. If you prefer to separate photos by people, places, or events, use subfolders. With subfolder titles and file keywords, you can search for what you want quickly.  Because I use a lot of my own photos in my blog posts, adding keywords is crucial for me to find what I want to use. 

If you download numerous photos from your phone, this can take up valuable space. Make a practice of checking each monthly photo folder to erase screenshots, goofs (I always seem to find photos of my floor!), or other unneeded images. Then, combine monthly photo folders into a larger folder labeled for the year. When I complete this task at the beginning of a year, I copy the entire previous year to an external hard drive for safekeeping.

Be fierce with documents.

If it hasn’t been a habit, now is the time to create a standard way of naming files in logical collections, which will help you track what needs to be kept and deleted. (1)

After photos, organizing and purging documents may feel like an impossible task. Still, it’s essential if you have work and personal documents on your hard drive. Work files need to be organized as required and copied to an external file location for safety. Draft copies need to be deleted since any previous changes do not sync between drafts. Duplicate drafts can lead to mistakes, in addition to taking up valuable disk space. (2)  

Duplicate drafts and document copies have tripped me up a time or two, but now I have a better plan. For example, I usually begin blog posts in Word. I give it a generic name for the first save and put it in a folder with other blog drafts. When I finish and publish the post, my next step is to save a final copy, with the post’s title, to a master folder. I immediately delete all other drafts.

TIP:  To weed out duplicate documents, try the search function to locate all documents with the same keywords. 

2. Face up to Facebook. 

Oh, the black hole and social media crack that is Facebook. I didn’t realize that Facebook would be another essential place to declutter until I spent a couple hours scrolling the other day. After looking through my profile, groups, and liked pages, I realized that I was handing Facebook more data about me than they need, only to target me with more ads.

While definitely not a weekend project, set aside some time to go through your profile and see just what you are connected to. Leave any groups where you no longer have an interest. Find the list on your profile showing all the pages you like and follow, disconnecting from all those you no longer visit regularly. The more pages you like/follow and the more groups you are in, Facebook uses your that data for ads on your feed.

Clean out your Facebook friend list

And speaking of disconnecting, it is probably time to unfriend those one-time acquaintances from your friend list, along with neighbors from the community where you no longer live. Hey, it’s brutal, but if you don’t want to see posts from those people of their cats and what they had to eat for breakfast, they aren’t your friends. 

For the future: invite acquaintances to follow you on Instagram or a Facebook page. If it’s for business, ask them to connect with you on LinkedIn. Keep friends on your friend list and cut down on the drama. We got no time for that.

Back up photos from Facebook

We mentioned organizing photos on your desktop. With that task, download a copy of your Facebook photos. This is quickly done from your profile:

  • Select pictures, and it will bring up all the categories of photos and/or albums.  (Most are probably in the mobile uploads or timeline photos.)
  • Click on the three dots in the top right corner of an album and select download album.
  • Follow the prompts and save photos in the applicable folder(s) on your computer.

With so many hackers stealing photos to create fake profiles, make sure you recheck that you have all the necessary security features in place. Because I don’t upload photos to albums anymore (since uploads go directly to the mobile upload folder), I deleted all those other albums. 

TIP:  Pet peeve here — if you are on Facebook, put a photo on your profile. Don’t look like a hacker or stalker. As an admin for a couple Facebook groups, I do not approve membership if there is no profile photo or the standard information everyone sees. An account without a profile pic signals to me that it could be a duplicate or fake account.

3. Purge your phone. 

Phone running slow? Running out of space? It’s time to declutter your phone.

Address those old contacts.

Is there anyone on your phone’s contact list that should be “unfriended?” The last thing you need is unexpected drama when you accidentally pocket-dial an ex.

And you’re welcome.

Too many photos you want to keep?

Another backup service is handy if you take tons of photos or videos in between downloads to your computer. With free iCloud space at a premium, use the free automatic sync service through Google Photos, Shutterfly, or Snapfish.  

There’s an app for that.

There are hoarders, and then there are app hoarders. We always want to make sure we have the best app for doing what we need to do. Once you find that perfect app, do you keep that old one around? It’s okay to delete it. Really.

If worried that you’ll never find an old app after deleting it, download it again from the app store through your profile. (On iOS, go to the App Store, click on your account profile pic, and then purchased. Everything you have ever used is listed here.

TIP: If you are no longer using an app, take an extra step of safety by deleting the account associated with the app. Don’t leave any personal info out there unattended.

Flush some social media.

Social media can be helpful, but also the bane of our existence. There is always a new company trying to compete in this marketplace, and each one targets different demographics.

We all know how much of our time can be wasted with social media. Is it time to take a hard look at what you really use and delete the rest?

4.   Clean up your Netflix or Amazon Prime queues

Why waste more time scrolling through tons of titles on your watchlists and queues when you don’t have to? My frustration was that titles I started to watch and didn’t like still showed on the “continue watching” row. I know, first-world problems.  

I recently looked at what was on my watchlists on both Netflix and Amazon Prime. I deleted titles I no longer had any desire to watch or those that I had binged all the seasons. Now I can find something much more easily.  Here’s the fix:

  • On your desktop, go to your account page.
  • Open Profile & Parental Controls and choose the profile to update.
  • Open viewing activity for that profile.
  • On the activity page, click the hide icon next to the episode or title you don’t want to see on the list. If you hide one episode, you’ll see the option to hide the entire series.
  • You can also hide all with the option at the bottom of that page. (Netflix)
  • From an android or iOS device, tap menu (the 3 dots) on the TV show or movie you want to remove. Select remove from row. Voila!

Some of these decluttering steps may take longer than others to complete. Still, I think you’ll agree that they are essential for freeing up necessary space, and also make other choices easier!

What is your best tip for organizing your documents or photos on your computer? Share it with other readers in the comments below!

2 responses to “4 Digital Decluttering Tasks You Need to Do”

  1. yes!!!. i did try to start on cleaning my computer files since that is the main and the hugest task i have (i don't have too many photos on fb, at least, i think so!) and my phone is one i transfer to my computer every so often (so again, it is my computer that is a WIP!)With my teens adding their own stuff to our common watchlists, I am not sure I want to go down that path for now..

  2. This is the best comprehensive digital decluttering article EVER! Thank you, Angie. I'm so guilty of neglecting so many of these places. Bookmarking to come back and tackle these tasks–it's definitely more than a weekend job for me!

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