How do you declutter your digital life? After you’ve decided to organize something and gotten very clear on what that something is (step 1), you then have to go find all of those things (step 2), because digital clutter doesn’t take up physical space, but it can take up computer storage space and mental space. Step 3 of digital decluttering is being brave enough to get rid of information that is no longer serving you.
Organize your Digital Life with SORT and Succeed- Step 3- Reduce, Release, Reset
How to Declutter Your Digital Life
This article in the New York Times caught my eye recently: How to Declutter Your Dating Life. You should be able to click through and read even without a subscription. I haven’t dated for a while, but it reminded me that there are just so many things that are digital now!
The article has headings like: consider what you really want, and listen to your gut. These are the things that you’ll do with any organizing project, including your digital life.
Clients often freeze in front of piles of stuff. I ask, do you want to keep it or not keep it? In a split second, a long list of “what ifs” run through their mind and show up own their faces almost like a movie reel:
I don’t want it.
But what if I need it someday?
I paid a lot for it.
Maybe someone I know could use it.
It’s perfectly good, just a little worn/broken/dated.
I probably shouldn’t get rid of it, especially if that means it’s going in a landfill.
This might sound a little familiar, especially if you’ve read Things Baby Boomers Say When They Organize Their Home.
The digital version of this monologue goes something like this:
I don’t want it taking up space on my computer/cloud anymore.
But what if I need it someday to prove something or other?
I paid for that class/newsletter/subscription.
I never really had time to read/learn/do that thing, but maybe I would someday.
I completely forgot I had that. Maybe I should take five minutes/ an hour/ a week to look at it.
I probably shouldn’t get rid of it, so I’ll just park it over here on a hard drive that I never look at.
Reduce, Release, Reset Digital Organizing
The NYT article linked above is a great model of just taking one small slice of your digital life and getting control of that. You might have a dating profile out on just one site or a dozen. If you want to save the draft profile (just in case) but don’t want to keep ties to a site that you aren’t using, then copy and past your information into a personal notebook site like Evernote or OneNote. You’ll have those paragraphs to iterate on if you ever need them again, but you can close and remove access to that dating site in the meantime.
Ahhhhh, doesn’t that feel good?
How to Wipe Your Data from Digital Devices
You might be doing more than deleting data. At some point you’ll get rid of the devices, too. I’ve shown you exactly how to remove a hard drive from computers before tossing or donating them.The newer computers don’t have an easily-removed access panel like the one in the video, so you might need to pay a computer tech to help you get into a laptop to remove the hard drive. I’ve also shown you how to apply brute force and drill into a hard drive to destroy sensitive data permanently. The problem is that we keep getting more and more devices that accumulate personal data on them. This article gives good advice on wiping data from devices like smartTVs and tablets.
Bottom line, yes, you can delete digital data.
It’s a good idea to delete old online information.
It’s a great idea to permanently destroy data on old devices to protect your identity.
This is a pretty deep topic, so if you have a question, please post in the comments so I can help.
No matter when you found us, catch up with all of this month’s organizing articles here.