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10 Digital Decluttering Projects You Need to Do

10 Digital Decluttering Projects You Need to Do

Digital clutter slows down your computer over time and leaves you with little space to store your files and personal data, which is why a routine e-clean up is necessary for top performance. But this clutter is also a huge, often invisible productivity-killer. The way you set up your desktop, browser, and file folders can easily be distracting you and weakening your productivity; if you’ve always had the same set up, you may not even realize how the clutter affects you.

Below are 10 digital decluttering projects to streamline your virtual work space. No, I’m not one of those people who insists you delete your social media accounts or stop reading online news in order to reduce digital clutter. Instead, these are some practical tasks that don’t just declutter, but keep you better organized, keep your files safe, and reduce the noise to get the best out of your time online.

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1. Declutter your digital documents

  • Go through all your documents and delete any that you no longer need
  • Resist the “just in case” syndrome — do you really need those old essays, or those notes from now obsolete projects? Didn’t think so.
  • If you have a lot of files and/or feel overwhelmed, organize them by date and start with the oldest documents. Break the process down into chunks so you don’t get worn out.

2. Make a zen desktop

  • Just like a clean desk helps you focus and be productive, so does a clean desktop
  • Clean up the folders and files on your desktop — get rid of app shortcuts
  • Use a sleek app launcher instead of your taskbar:
    • http://rocketdock.com/ (This is the one I personally use)
    • http://www.stardock.com/products/ObjectDock/
    • Download some sleeker-looking icons for your app launcher of choice. You can find lots of nice, clean icons on deviantArt. A few examples:
  • Make your desktop interface even prettier with Rainmeter, explained here.
  • Remember to hide default taskbar. Windows 7 instructions here, Windows 8 here, Macs here.
  • Find a minimalist/calm background. Try some of these:
    • http://simpledesktops.com/
    • http://www.lifehack.org/articles/technology/100-awesome-minimalist-wallpapers.html
    • http://www.minimalwall.com/page/2/

3. Unsubscribe from email lists/newsletters

  • Stop thinking “I may need these deals/this newsletter later!”, you won’t.
  • Best newsletters to unsubscribe from: online shopping deals. They’re constant and clog up your inbox. Try sites like RetailMeNot to check up on online shopping deals.
  • If you MUST keep some kind of newsletter for a particular site/group, update your email preferences to receive fewer updates. There’s usually a link at the bottom of newsletters to edit your email preferences (some only offer the option to unsubscribe completely, however).
  • Extra tip: For the next week or two, every time you get a newsletter open it and either unsubscribe or adjust preferences, that way you won’t get lost and overwhelmed sorting through your inbox in one go.

4. Clear out your downloads

  • If you’ve never cleaned up your Downloads folder, it’s probably taking up a good amount of storage on your computer
  • Again, if you’re overwhelmed by the sheer volume, sort files by date and delete in chunks
  • Time saver: If you’ve already backed up all important files, you can simply delete the entire contents of your Downloads folder

5. Use automated inbox sorting

  • If you use Gmail, you can set up your inbox to automatically sort your incoming emails like so.
  • SaneBox, AquaMail, and Mailbox are a few of the many third party apps that you can use to sort your inbox as well

6. Clean up your bookmarks

  • Streamline your browser window by cleaning out your bookmarks.
  • Delete what you can, then save the rest with apps like Evernote or Pocket.

7. Delete rarely used accounts

  • A great way to cut down on emails sent, time wasted, and passwords to keep track of is deleting accounts that aren’t necessary and that you don’t use often
  • JustDeleteMe provides substantial list of frequently used sites and the relative difficulty level of deleting your account on each

8. Organize and delete images

  • Organize your photos into folders by date and/or event
  • Put them in a cloud drive so you don’t have to store them on your computer (DropBox or OneDrive are good places to keep pictures and other documents)
  • Delete any photos that are poor quality or unimportant.

9. Defrag/clean disk

  • If you don’t already do this at least somewhat regularly, find your computers defrag control and do it today. (Look up how to find it on your computer if you don’t now where it is.)
  • Depending on your OS, you may need to defrag regularly, or simply schedule regular automatic defragging.
  • You can also use third party apps, like Disk Space Fan.

10. Defriend, unfollow, and in general clean out your social newsfeeds

  • Defriending on Facebook will give you just the stuff that matters on your newsfeed, so you spend less time on the site but still see what your friends and family are up to. Go through your friends list and likes pages and start defriending/unfollowing.
  • Unfollowing people on Twitter gives you just the important updates. This is important if you use or want to use twitter for news updates, be it personal interest or work-related. You can also mute people on your Twitter feed.

Remember to pace yourself through these tasks so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Use a task manager to schedule and organize the above tasks, and if you worry about getting hyperfocused or not knowing when to take a break, set timers to limit the time you spend on each project. Happy digital decluttering!

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Featured photo credit: PSD Graphics via psdgraphics.com

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Last Updated on February 15, 2019

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

Joe’s Goals

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    Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

    Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

    Daytum

      Daytum

      is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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      Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

      Excel or Numbers

        If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

        What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

        Evernote

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          I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

          Evernote is free with a premium version available.

          Access or Bento

            If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

            Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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            You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

            Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

            All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

            Conclusion

            I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

            What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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