By Fernanda Maio
Digital decluttering is the base of digital wellbeing to me. It means “limiting the noise.” It brings clarity to the massive amounts of information, materials, and facts I consume. It also prevents me from overloading on with things that don’t nourish my life, my mind, and my soul!
I use daily, weekly, fortnightly, and monthly techniques as part of my decluttering routine.
Instead of focusing on what I want to delete, I think about what I want to keep. I ask myself questions like, “Do I need this for work? For my personal development? To improve my life? Can this thing create a connection with someone?” and so on.
I can summarize all these questions with a simple “Is this good for me?”
The easiest way for me to declutter is to organize and categorize. I have folders on my desktop, phone, and social media, so I know exactly where to find useful information, data, files, etc.
DESKTOP: I organize my desktop folders by topics and titles. I have three main folders for work, leisure, and projects/side hustles. Every week, I check my downloads and documents and ask myself, “Useful or not?” Then, I proceed to organize, name and categorize them in different folders. I also have a folder named “random” where I put things that I can’t categorize but that might be useful.
INTERNET BOOKMARKS: With three jobs, I have 9-12 tabs open every day and so many bookmarks (sometimes up to 150!) on completely different topics (travel, psychology, coaching, yoga, mindfulness, marketing, sports, digital, etc.). So, I apply the “less is more” rule. Every day, I open only 5-7 tabs and consider if they are truly useful for any of the categories in my life (personal, relationship, work, leisure). If the answer is yes, I name them and put them in folders on my bookmarks.
MAIL + NEWSLETTERS: It is easy to subscribe, but unsubscribing seems to be the hardest thing to do. So, my rule is: when I receive an email that I want to unsubscribe from, I think “now or never”, and unsubscribe immediately vs just deleting the email. And before subscribing to something, I think twice about it! My emails are categorized under “work,” “leisure,” and “projects.” Every fortnight, I delete mail I don’t need, spam, etc.
Following: On my personal Instagram page, I don’t follow anyone. It is my personal choice; I have never followed any of my friends. I have them on WhatsApp and Messenger, and I call and see them, and that is enough for me. I don’t need to see if that person, that is not a close friend, is getting married or having a baby or getting promoted or what is he/she cooking for lunch. It is not important to me. I am lucky enough to be in contact with friends and people important to me all around the world.
Every week, I take at least 20 minutes to unfollow uninspiring accounts that no longer align with my values, accounts that post too much, and pages that interfere with the vision I have of myself, and the person I want to become. If I don’t want to unfollow them, for some reason, I mute them.
Saved: The same thing with ig bookmarks here., my algorithm knows me well, so I have A LOT of material that really interests me, but the same thing “less is more.”
There were things that I saved that I have never watched. So, once a month, I take 1/2 hour to open posts, and reels, I have saved. I see and feel if it is important for me, I write them down or I open a word document and write it with my own words so I can better memorize or use it for my work or personal life. I use this a lot with recipes for example.
Then, I have a folder on ig called “brain break” where I put all the useless things I want to watch when I want to switch off my brain (gossip, useless info, random facts, etc.).
PHOTOS: I travel a lot and I take a lot of pictures, but I make sure that on the flight/train back home I delete all the random or look-alike photos. My motto is “if you wouldn’t frame it delete it”. I only keep the ones that bring me memories, and smiles, I can use for work or to remember important moments of my life.
SCREENSHOTS: That is the hardest part! I screenshot a lot of things. Sometimes I watched my screenshots and asked, “Why did I screenshot this?” so I have learned to do this every day: I delete screenshots I don’t need or name the ones I feel are important and useful and put them in a folder.
APPS: Honestly, I don’t have a lot of apps. I only have apps I really need in my everyday life. I love to see my phone screen neat and clean. I also put my social media apps in a password-protected folder, to help avoid opening them too often.
Fernanda Maio is a digital wellbeing coach, yoga instructor, mindfulness facilitator and world traveller. @theyoganists