Give Yourself a Digital Spring Clean

Public Domain. MaxPixel

Don't stop with the house! Tackle clutter in your digital life for greater peace of mind.

It's not just your house that needs some TLC at this time of year; your digital home does, too! Take some time to tackle the email inbox clutter, the unknown Facebook friends, and the annoying Instagrammers in an effort to bring greater organization, control, and peace of mind to every aspect of your life. Some of these tips come via Good Housekeeping, that wise voice on all things cleaning-related.


Inbox purge: No matter how many emails are in your inbox, there's no better time than now to get started on deleting. Take a few hours to do the entire task, or commit to doing it for a set amount of time each day for a week. I like to put on a good song and delete emails for the length of the song. Alternatively, you could be very daring and do what I did once in 2015 -- a full delete of my entire inbox. It felt enormously liberating.

Divert spam: Make sure your privacy settings are maximized so that all spam goes directly to that folder, rather than your inbox.

Unsubscribe: Whenever you get an email from a retailer or organization that you no longer want, take a moment to unsubscribe. The amount of effort it takes to do so is significantly less than always deleting the emails as they come in.

Establish a new habit: Once that inbox is clear, commit to dealing with new emails every day so they don't build up again.

Social Media

Do a purge: If you haven't interacted with someone for a year, it's probably time to delete them. My policy is, if I couldn't imagine talking to a person on the phone, they're not staying on my Facebook account.

Consider the 80/20: This is always an interesting exercise. Delete the 80 percent with which you have 20 percent contact, and keep the 20 percent that dominates 80 percent of your communication.

Unfollow pages: Your interests evolve over time and there's no point in wasting time and attention on Instagram accounts or Twitter feeds that are no longer related to what you're into. Get rid of these.

Set limits: Social media can be addictive and consuming, both time-wise and psychologically. If you feel you're using it too much, decide how often and what time of day you'll log on. Delete apps from your phone or sign out every time you use to discourage use.


Delete: Having a phone camera is great, except that it results in a backlog of less-than-great images and multiples of the same scene. Go through your photos year by year and delete them. Back them up to an external hard drive, Dropbox, or iCloud.

Print: It may sound old-fashioned, but consider creating photo albums of memorable family trips and children's development. You're probably going to look at them more often than you would if they stay on your computer. You can use a service like Shutterfly to make it easier.


Subscribe: There are many great online subscription services that eliminate the need to store music, podcasts, and movies on your home computer.

Tackle those bookmarks: Bookmarks are a reflection of evolving interests (like social media pages) and require a good cull every now and then.

Desktop organization: Take some time to sort your desktop and documents folders into something neater and more manageable. Give easy names to files, put them where you'll know to look for them, and ruthlessly delete anything that's no longer relevant.

Solve the password problem: Reading Daniel Levitin's book, The Organized Mind, changed my relationship to passwords; I used to hate them, now I've conquered them. Levitin recommends choosing a phrase and using the first letters of each word to form a generic phrase that you use for every login, e.g. "I love my dog" would be "ilmd." Then make it more complex.

Make the first letter a capital, leave the rest lowercase. Add a number in the middle, such as the year a parent was born or your bestie's birthday, for something like "Il15md." To personalize it, put the first letter of whatever the password is for at the beginning, i.e. Facebook, FIl15md. Twitter, TIl15md.

Whenever you need to change a password, simply add a 1 on the end, then delete the next time you have to update. You get the idea... and you'll never forget your password again.