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May 14 2019

More Joy, Less Stress: Decluttering Your Digital Space

Spring is traditionally the time of year for cleaning up and clearing out. We awaken from longer nights and cooler temperatures to more energy and more drive to get things done. We feel the urge to clear space for this newfound energy and drive. We clean up yards and gardens to encourage new growth; we sort through closets and drawers to get rid of that which no longer serves us, and reconnect with the things we truly love. These changes to our physical space can inspire, motivate, and keep us on the path to our goals.

But what about our digital space?

If you spend much of your workday on your computer, as I do, it may need the same attention to clarity as your physical space. Keeping things simple, uncluttered, and easy to access can help you stay focused and lessen the stress of your work day.

Patience Makes Perfect

Before we get into our virtual spring cleaning, make sure to give yourself enough time and space for the process. You likely didn’t accumulate all your digital “clutter” in one day. Be patient with yourself. Consider this an item on your to-do list and tackle it accordingly. Use a time management system, like the Pomodoro technique, to keep yourself focused on the task when you’re working and allow yourself time to take breaks.

Treat Your Computer Like Your Desk

To get started, ask yourself: are you using everything you see on your computer desktop? If not, get rid of files and programs that serve no purpose. Yes, that might mean deleting the drafts of that one blog post from seasons ago (I resemble this remark, by the way). You could even go Marie Kondo on things, in a way, and ask yourself if the file in question serves any purpose for you. If that incredibly adorable photo of your puppy sparks the most joy ever, then it can stay!

Use Names and Folders Wisely  

Speaking of files: how are your files named? Creating a naming convention for files will help you prioritize what’s needed and why, and will also make them easier to find. If you’re looking at an older file and wondering what to call it because you’re not quite sure of its usefulness, that might be a cue that it’s time for it to go.

I also recommend creating two (or three) folders for your desktop. Label one “personal” and another “work.” Place items in said folders accordingly. Remember: you’ve already named files appropriately thanks to your new naming convention, so you won’t lose things. Promise. A third folder might help for items that don’t quite fit into the two main categories. I have a “stuff-n-things” folder where my favorite fun images and GIFs live. Feel free to be creative with this extra folder, if it serves you!

Desktop Wallpaper: Pretty and  Purposeful?

Yes! You can get deeper into clearing your desktop by choosing a clean, simple image for your wallpaper. Some wallpapers can even help you stay organized!  Hiding your dock can also help you stay focused. Start slow; take whichever steps will help you in the here and now to avoid overwhelm.

Our digital spaces have become a big part of our lives, so it’s natural for them to feel stale or cluttered from time to time. By using strategies that we use in the real world, we can make our digital life feel that extra bit fresher.

 

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