9 Tips for Digital Decluttering

Today is Clean Out Your Computer Day -- a day to review and delete old files and programs -- and as many readers know, I love random holidays like this, especially when they inspire me to get more organized! As part of my work via the Office Champions program (and because I was in desperate need of laptop cleanup!), I thought it would be helpful to share my top tips for digital decluttering, and also how to keep those precious files safe.

1. Make note of your disk space

This is a super quick step and really more for your data collection gratification. Make a note of your remaining disk space so you can see your starting point.

2. Delete old programs

Go through and delete old programs you no longer use. Sort by most recently used applications for specific details on usage to help your process.

3. Break the process down into small chunks

The idea of cleaning out your entire computer can be a daunting one. Break the process down into small chunks so it feels more doable and so you can enjoy the satisfaction of checking off sections. For example, start with cleaning off your home screen (I have a terrible habit of dumping temporary files there) and then work your way through individual folders.

4. Clean out folders, tackling digital photos LAST

Clean out and delete/reorganize files and folders. I recommend tackling digital photos last because of the nostalgia rabbit hole factor. Get in a good rhythm with the easier files first!

5. Be ruthless

As you tackle #4, BE RUTHLESS. I recommend this tactic with physical decluttering and the same goes for digital decluttering. For example, with photos, delete images where people have their eyes closed, mouths open and full of food, etc., as well as repeats of the same shot or photos that really don’t contribute to storytelling in any way. I like to think of the process as curating the very best images; I may shoot, say, 300 photos at a party and I'm happiest when I can reduce that collection to 25 or so images.

6. Empty your trash/recycling bin and check your disk space again

This is the gratification side of step #1; you’ll feel happy seeing your increase in disk space!

7. Back up your data

After some catastrophic file losses in the past, I cannot recommend backing up your data enough! I use both an external hard drive + cloud service. Using something like OneDrive or Dropbox is awesome so you can access your files from anywhere. (To learn more about how Office and Dropbox work together, see here and here!)

8. Run a scan

Once your hard drive is cleaned up, I recommend running a scan. Just initiate and go make yourself a cup of coffee!

9. Maintain a digital decluttering routine

Prevent future overwhelm by maintaining a digital decluttering routine. If you digitally declutter once a week, or even once a month, the process will be quick!

Disclosure: This post was inspired by my role as a compensated Office Champions ambassador; ideas and opinions are, of course, my own!