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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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Published on September 20, 2018

11 Google Chrome Apps and Features to Help You Get More Done with Less Effort

11 Google Chrome Apps and Features to Help You Get More Done with Less Effort

In today’s fast-paced and never-ending busy world, we are overwhelmed by tasks that need to be completed by tight deadlines. With so much technology it is difficult to find the right tools to help boost our efficiency. And, many tools get obsolete so its essential to stay up-to-date to know when you will have to make adjustments to these tools. Independently of where you work, there’s a good chance that you have to be working on a PC or a laptop.

Do you are feel like you do not have enough time, or cannot accomplish much as of late? It is recommended to take a step back and look at the big picture. Also, you want to explore new and innovative ways to improve productivity.

In this article, I outline 11 features and apps within the Chrome browser that can help you do just that.

Minimizing Tabs

Let’s face it we all have more than a dozen tabs opened on our computers. One neat trick to still keep most of them open is to turn them into pinned tabs. On Google Chrome you can right-click the tab and select “Pin Tab” option. This turns the tab into an icon enabling you to continue multitasking.

Pinning a tab anchors the tabs on the left of your toolbar; a great benefit of the “Pin Tab” feature is that you can’t close these tabs accidentally since the “X” disappears after pinning them.

Incognito Mode

Google Chrome is a very easy-to-use and intuitive. But, Google does collect our browsing data; so to remedy this, you can use Incognito Mode. This feature does not keep your browsing or download history. You can enable or access it in three different ways:

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  1. Press Ctrl/Command+shift+N
  2. Select File Menu and choose New Incognito Window
  3. Download extension New Incognito Window

This feature is very handy if you’d rather not have your browsing history stored and utilized for future advertisement or suggested pages.

Save Webpages as PDF Files

Have you ever browsed interesting or important information and then forgot to bookmark or save it in “favorites”, making it impossible to find again? Chances are you have done this on a number of occasions.

Thankfully, there is an easy solution. You can save webpages as PDF files. On your keyboard, press control/command+p and you will be able to save webpages as PDFs.

Open Recently-closed Tabs

Ever had dozens of tabs opened and all of a sudden your browser shuts down? It has probably happened to all of us. You can easily recover all of your tabs using two approaches. Don’t panic if this happens because there is a workaround and solution for it.

One is by pressing Ctrl/CMD+Shift+T.

The other approach is to click on the three vertical dots on your browser and hover over “History”.

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Solve Mathematical Problems

Google’s Chrome browser doesn’t just search for relevant and updated information. It is also capable of performing some mathematical problems. Within the omnibox (Chrome’s address or URL bar), you can perform mathematical exercises.

For example, if you are struggling with percentages you can search 20 percent of x amount and it will instantly provide a result. Pretty handy, right?!

Play Media Files

Are you frequently met with difficulties when playing or watch a video files? Well, once again Chrome comes to the rescue. You can can listen or play videos from all sorts of movie or music files (mp3, mp4, .mov, .mkv, .ogv, .webm, .wav, etc.) by simply dragging the file into the search bar.

In addition, you can view images, PDF files and Microsoft Office files, too.

Navigate Swiftly Between Tabs

With all of those tabs opened comes great navigation responsibilities. Rather than clicking through every tab, you can use shortcut keys like Ctrl+Tab to navigate all of the different tabs. Also, you are able to navigate to the first tab by pressing Ctrl-1, Ctrl-2, and so on. If you want to switch to the very last tab, press Ctrl-9.

Stay Focus(e)d

Computers nowadays have awesome capabilities.

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Sometimes we like to get work done, but let’s face it, we’re all human. We sometimes procrastinate by visiting a website we really like, or maybe take a break with watching a flick on Netflix, a video on YouTube or browsing Facebook.

With Chrome’s StayFocusd extension, you can truly stay focused and get more done in less time.

This extension naturally helps you stay more productive by limiting the amount of time you spend on websites. You can set the time and it will automatically block those sites after a certain period.

Grammarly for Editing

Grammarly is a must have, and it’s really a complete powerhouse. Grammarly helps you check your grammar and spelling for everything you write online.

You can use it professionally or as a student, which will make the editing process much easier and more efficient. Furthermore, it can automatically check for typos when you send an email, type a Tweet, or post a Facebook comment. It’s like having your own personal copyeditor!

Loom

There are times that words in an email or written text in a chat app will just not convey the right meaning.

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There is a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, the same is true of videos.

With Loom, you can capture, narrate and immediately share video recordings of your screen, which will help coworkers understand issues you are facing, or to easily convey an explanation on screen. Plus, with video you will be able to easily walk people through a process, and you can use it to create simple how-to videos.

Chrome Calendar Extension

No matter what your level of responsibility is at your job, Google Calendar is another essential resource to have at your fingertips.

Specifically, you can have this extension added as an icon in the toolbar of your browser, which I highly recommend. Once you add the extension to your browser, you can check for upcoming events with a single click without leaving your current page.

Final Thoughts

Google Chrome has definitely evolved from its inception. As you can see you have a very powerful tool that comes as a free installation and is loaded with dozens of capabilities. The above listed Chrome apps can resolve some of the most common obstacles to your time management and productivity.

Featured photo credit: Andrew Neel via unsplash.com

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