As a home based coach or consultant, being online is important. We need to stay connected with what’s happening in our industry and with our social contacts. But the more time we spend online, the worse our attention span seems to get. So, a key thing is to optimise what we’re doing online so that we can spend less time online, be more productive and keep our minds clear to focus on the important stuff.
One of the things that I do a few times a year is focus on digital decluttering, I like to do it in August as a bit of a ‘back to school’ activity, but you can do it anytime during the year.
How to Approach your Digital Decluttering
A couple of ways to approach this are – you can start with one of the tips that I give you below, implement it and then move on to the next, or go cold turkey and unplug from everything apart from stuff that you really have to do, and then add those things back in that you truly enjoy and you want to be doing, whilst continuing to avoid the things that don’t really work for you.
Whichever way you go, take some time to just think about how much your digital life and your digital clutter gets in the way of the important things you need to do and work out what’s going to work best for you to get back some time by eliminating unnecessary distracting digital activity.
25 Tips for Digital Decluttering
1. Use Time Blocking Strategies
Use blocks of time for particular tasks and corral all your tasks for that particular activity into that time to focus purely on that particular activity. You’ll be more productive when you’re just focusing on one thing at a time and working in one ‘way’ at a time.
2. Turn Off Notifications
Notifications just distract you. They’re designed to distract you, which is why they work so well!
But, actually most of the time, what that does is takes you away from what you’re supposed to be doing. And regaining your focus on that activity can be quite difficult.
Take some time to turn off notifications and then check your social media and messaging accounts, and so on, at specific times during the day, or when you’re ready to do so rather than having them interrupting you.
3. Only Use the Social Profiles you Need
Work out which social platforms really work for you, and which ones you enjoy using. Cut everything else out. Anything that isn’t serving your business or serving your life doesn’t need to be there.
4. Simplify your Followers on Social Media
Work out who you want to be friends, and connected, with on social media, and then cut out everyone else. Work on building relationships with the people you’re connected with and engaging and interacting with those people.
If you don’t know them and if you’re not engaging with them, you’re basically sharing information with a bunch of strangers.
5. Be Really Clear About What you Want to See in your Social Media Feeds
Everything you read and everything you see affects how you feel, and this affects your behaviour. You’re in control of what you get to see, particularly on social media.
You can unfriend people if you don’t like the sort of content that they’re sharing. Unfollow people, take out the negativity, the negative news that you see at the moment on your social media feed so that what you’re seeing is the stuff that really feeds your soul.
6. Declutter your Email
You can use labels with Gmail or folders with Outlook to keep emails easy to hand or using filters to automatically divert them when they arrive in your inbox.
Mind you, don’t get carried away with that as search works really well these days for finding what you’ve got without creating a big folder system.
Consider using a tool like Sanebox to allow you to organise your emails into different specific folders to allow you to batch process your email so that you don’t spend all your day in your inbox/
7. Unsubscribe From Unwanted Newsletters
I imagine, like most people, you are subscribed to a whole load of newsletters that you were interested in at the time but that interest may have waned and you skip over them without reading them. In which case, unsubscribe!
8. Implement a One Touch Strategy with your Email
Admin your emails, once, twice, three times a day – whatever works for you. And then, only touch each email once. No clicking out of it and going back in and continuing to ponder over what to do – take action right there.
Either do, defer, delegate, or delete.
- Respond to the person, then if necessary…
- Do whatever it is if it’s less than two minutes
- Defer it to your to do list if it’s going to take longer
- Delegate it to someone else
- Delete it, and then get out of your inbox.
9. Declutter your Photos
Go through your photos on a regular basis and make sure you’re only keeping the absolutely beautiful photos that you need. And make sure that you’re regularly backing them up to the cloud, so that you don’t lose them.
They are precious memories – make sure you preserve them, but also make sure that you keep the best memories, and not just a load of photos that you haven’t bothered to sort out.
10. Take a Digital Break at the Weekend
Your business will keep going, and your mind and your body will thank you for it.
Maybe unplug every evening too at a certain time so that you can focus on time with your family or doing a hobby.
Make sure that you build in time without social media and digital to look after yourself.
11. Create a Content Planner
Interacting with people on social media, promoting your business or creating content for your audience is all really hard if you start with a blank page, or a blank screen.
If you do some content planning beforehand, so that you know what you’re going to post on, all you then have to do is fill in the gaps by creating that content or even delegating to your VA to get that content created and published.
12. Stop Using your Devices at Least an Hour Before You Go to Sleep
You need time to wind down and relax. Research shows that the blue light from your phone can affect your sleep patterns (although apparently not everybody). It could stop you being able to sleep very quickly when you go to bed.
So stop using the devices at least an hour before you want to go to bed or maybe read a book or listen to music or meditate or something else to calm yourself down – and see if that helps.
13. Regularly Declutter your Hard Drive
Chances are you’ve got a whole tonne of files on your computer that you never read, and you haven’t read for years. The more clutter you have on there, the harder it is to find things. And obviously, the less space you have to store other things.
Work out how you’re going to file digital files and then, on a regular basis, go through and declutter what’s there to make sure that the things you don’t need aren’t on there anymore
14. Consider Outsourcing
You should be spending your time doing the things that only you can do and/or that you really enjoy doing. It’s hard to think about delegating to somebody else and it’s quite hard sometimes to go through the process of outsourcing tasks because you have to do some setup first.
You have to perhaps create a video or written process on how to do that particular task and you’ve obviously got to find the right person to do it.
But once you’ve done it, you don’t look back! In fact, most times, once I’ve outsourced something I wonder why I didn’t do it sooner. So who can you delegate to and who can you outsource to. What’s that process going to look like and what can you outsource to them.
15. Replace Digital Activity with Real Activity
You can cut down the time that you spend on digital by doing something in real life, perhaps a hobby, socialising with friends and family or going for a walk. Digital won’t go anywhere. It’ll still be there when you finish doing whatever that other activity is. But the other activity will likely give you so much pleasure and improve your wellbeing.
16. Choose Live Conversation Over Texting
We’ve got so used to communicating through texting via one or more of the messaging apps, but nothing can replace that one to one, that face to face conversation that you have either in real life, or on one of the visual apps, or even just a phone call.
Consider building that in on occasions rather than always texting.
17. Keep your Computer Desktop Clear
It can be really helpful to have shortcuts on your desktop, but it also takes up processing on your computer. And the more that you have on your desktop, the more it bombards you with all sorts of visual clutter when you switch your computer on.
You can organise your icons on the desktop into folders to make it look tidy, but also consider if you really need all of those shortcuts and icons on your desktop. It may be that you only put them on there because you needed them temporarily and then you just need to make sure that you delete them. Certainly put aside some time to review your desktop on a regular basis.
(And this principle applies to your office desktop as well as your computer desktop!)
18. Limit the Number of Browser Tabs you Open
Just because you can open 25 tabs at once doesn’t mean that you should as it affects the speed of your browsing. In fact, if you use a Chrome browser, then I recommend an extension called Tab Suspender that snoozes your tabs if you don’t use them for a certain time.
So, even if you do have lots of them open, they don’t crash because only a few of them are actually live at any time. But do get into the habit of closing tabs when you’re not using them anymore. And use bookmarking to save urls so that you can easily find the tabs that you want to go back to, which makes closing them easier!
19. Use Cloud Storage
There are still many people who have most of their computer files only on their hard drive. It only takes one broken computer for you to lose everything.
Consider using a tool such as Dropbox or Google to keep your files in the cloud as well as synced to your computer. Then you have peace of mind that, if something does happen to your computer, you’ll still have those files available.
It also means that you only need to download the absolute minimum to your computer, because you won’t be using all the files that you have, and that will help with speed as well.
20. Consider Using Only One Email
Most email platforms allow you to use more than one email account at a time, Gmail, for example, allows you to to add all your email accounts to one account, and then choose which email you’re replying with when messages come in, or set it to automatically reply with the one that ‘received it’.
Then you’re not checking multiple email accounts, you can just check everything all in one place.
21. Use a Password Manager
Keeping secure online is really important nowadays, and it’s so much easier to do if you’re using a password manager where you can create really unique and complicated passwords that you keep safely and are able to use them easily on all of the devices that you have.
It’s absolutely no good keeping passwords written down either on paper or in an Excel spreadsheet. Who knows what’s going to happen at any stage in terms of the security of those passwords. And what a pain it is looking them up each time you need to use them.
And using a password manager encourages you to use more complicated passwords because you’re not having to type it them each time. You also don’t need to end up with the same password for many different websites. I recommend LastPass I’ve been using it for a long time it works really well.
22. Find your Electronic Cords
Get all the cords that you own together. Do you own the devices that they connect to? Are there any you can’t identify? In that case get rid of them (maybe after storing them for a period in case you find what they are for!). Match cords and items up, label the cord so that you know which device it attaches to. Physical clutter can be as bad as digital clutter.
23. Backup your Data Regularly
We’ve already talked about avoiding issues with losing data by using something like Dropbox or Google. You may also want to backup specifically so that you have a regular snapshot, if you like, of all the files that you have on your computer and you keep that in the cloud, or offline, in case something goes wrong with your computer.
24. Remember How to Be Alone
We sometimes seem to have our phones attached to our hands at all times! And sometimes that feels like you’re never on your own, you’re never uncontactable. Consider practising being that way.
Put your phone and your devices in another room and spend some time without access to them, reading a book, or listening to some music, or just thinking. Being alone is a good thing to practice in living an intentional lifestyle.
How often do you find yourself doing things because you’ve just picked up your phone and started scrolling through, faffing around on various platforms, and not really thinking about it
Actually living with intention and taking action accordingly can help you to be happier and enable you to focus on the things that are really important to you and not to feel like you’re wasting time doing things that are less important.
So, what do you want to do. Determine your your intention for your activity today and just do that.
25. Eliminate any Subscriptions you Don’t Need
Go through PayPal. Go through your Apple Pay subscriptions. Find out what you’re paying for that you’re not actually using, and cancel them.
I’d be amazed if you haven’t got at least one subscription that you no longer need that you’re still paying for.
So, as I said at the beginning, there’s no right or wrong way to go through these tips.
You can pick them off one at a time and work your way diligently down the list. You could pick the ones that jump out to you to begin with, or the ones that feel like they’re most important to you at the moment. Or you can do all of them at the same time, although that might be a bit hard!
Certainly look through each of these tips and start to take some action.
And once you’ve done some work on your digital decluttering, think about your physical decluttering and about your physical activity, the things that you do. Is everything organised?
Do you have your photos organised? Do you have a way of dealing with your mail that comes through the door? Do you delegate tasks to your family members or outsource to a cleaner or whatever?
Think about how you can declutter in all aspects of your life and be amazed how calming it can be to move forwards in a simpler, more calm way.