A lot of content about minimalism focusses on material possessions. But as we throw away items we never use and "Kon Mari" it up, there is one area in our lives that we often overlook. Our digital world.
Physical clutter is usually pretty obvious whereas digital clutter isn't. It doesn't take up any space in your home. You don't see it getting in the way and you never wonder if you should 'donate or throw away' you digital files.
It's intangible. 0's and 1's on your hard drive. Just data. But data is information and information is what fills up our heads, distracts us and causes chaos when our mind would be at peace.
Digital clutter is often overlooked but might even be a worse than physical clutter for causing stress and dissatisfaction. It's hard to keep a calm mind when you are overloaded with email every time you open your inbox. When you have dozens of articles saved to read that you never end up reading. When you have tens or hundreds of bookmarks you never go back to. When you struggle to keep up with the endless stream of content on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube or Twitter.
Although there are a lot of blogs, video's and podcasts focussed on minimalism in the offline world, there isn't much content out there focussed on digital minimalism. Although, Cal Newport wrote a great article about the pro's of digital minimalism in 2016.
Cutting down on clutter
After cutting down on mindless browsing time earlier, here are some steps I've taken to decrease digital clutter
- Decrease the amount of apps and services I use by combining all info into Notion. Before, I was using Trello, Google Docs, Evernote, Wunderlist and Workflowy. Now I only use two: Notion and Todoist.
- Cleanup my local files: delete files you don't need anymore, give descriptive names to the ones you keep and order them in folders.
- Reduce visual clutter: Get all files of your desktop and move them into folders, cleanup your bookmarks bar and only keep the programs I use daily in my dock.
- Shutdown my PC every night: this helps you walk away from your computer feeling like you are done with today's work instead of thinking about everything you still need to do and allows you to start with a clean slate every day.
- Remove things from my todo list that I keep putting off.
- Unfollow/unsubscribe on social media: we are quick to follow and subscribe to new people but rarely (if ever) take the time to remove people from our feed. When is the last time you went through your YT subscriptions and asked yourself if you still enjoyed that person's content?
- Do the same things for your phone. Remove apps you never use, delete old photos and videos and disable notifications so you are interrupted less.