KonMari, Marie Kondo’s tidying method, has taken the world by storm thanks to her recent Netflix series. Perfectly timed to reach us at our most overindulged moment after the holidays, she is responsible for booming Goodwill donations and sparking joy all over the place.
But while she does wonders with our closets and cabinets, our digital nooks and crannies remain bursting at the seams.
Today we are going to turn our attention to our online lives with my KonMari checklist for digital clutter.
I encourage you to read her book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up to learn more about her approach and the underlying principles but a few will guide us here.
Envision your ideal life.
In her show, Marie Kondo asks people to imagine their ideal life and what would be included in it. As we approach our digital lives, consider what would my inbox, my social media feeds, my desktop look like in my ideal life?
Dig out the clutter and sort by category.
Digital clutter has this way of becoming invisible to us because it isn’t taking up space in our home, but research shows that digital clutter can be as stressful as physical clutter to our minds.
As you begin your digital decluttering, go category by category and work through each before moving on to the next platform or group using a checklist. Download my “KonMari Checklist for Digital Clutter.”
As you sort, ask “Does this spark joy?”
Marie Kondo’s million-dollar question is about how each item “sparks joy” in our lives. Her philosophy is loosely grounded in Japanese Shinto thought and philosophy regarding physical things, but the general approach can apply to digital things as well I think.
In the show, people work through every item they own touching it and deciding its fate. Obviously we aren’t going to print out every email we have, but we can still be thoughtful as well work our way through our digital piles.
Am I keeping this because it sparks joy? Is it necessary? Am I afraid of losing it?
Another powerful question is — Is this something or someone (in the case of personal contacts) that I want to take with me into my future life?
Our family moved a few years ago, and in the process I felt like I touched every item we owned. We got rid of trailers full of items that had accumulated over the decade we had lived in the home.
There is something “life-changing” about sorting your stuff and making room for new.
KonMari Checklist to Declutter Your Digital Life
As we declutter our digital life, we will move by category as the method requires. Rather than her categories however, we will use these on our KonMari checklist:
- Desktop/Home Screen
- Inbox (email, voicemail, text messages)
- Social Media
- Computer Files
- Pictures & Sentimental Items
1. Desktop/ Home Screen
Marie Kondo begins her KonMari method with clothing–something we use everyday and which can easily get too cluttered. We are starting with the primary thing we see daily when we use tech–our phone home screen and computer desktop.
• Clean off your home screen or desktop of unwanted or unused items.
• Create a “To Trash” folder to send downloads you know you will delete in the near future.
• Collect misc items into folders rather than having them clutter your view.
2. Inbox (Email, Voicemail, Text)
Unfortunately, our modern life gives us lots of opportunities to collect clutter. If you are like me, you may have become a digital hoarder.
I wrote and earlier post on getting to inbox zero through inbox domination that has lots of helpful tips.
Here are a few more tips:
• Use search filters like “older_than: 2y” to filter messages in Gmail by date
• Click on an email and click “filter messages like these” to bulk delete.
• Unsubscribe from anything you do not read weekly.
• For voicemails–delete all your voicemail unless you have any you are keeping for sentimental reasons, which is dealt with last
• Text messages: use your phones storage management tools to delete large attachments that may be filling up your inbox. Also delete robo-messages and others that are not part of needed text chains.
3. Social Media
Social media is great at keeping up connected but it really can affect our lives in surprising ways. While you can’t actually reduce your feed to zero (Facebook and others will find ways to fill it), you can curate what you see.
Do you really want to keep getting posts about politics or your friend’s Aunt Sally’s jewelry sale?
You have control over what you see and you can even “mute” friends to stop seeing them for a while or stop “following” people that you remain “friends” with. They will never know!
Do you need to be active on all the sites you are currently? Could you archive your site?
• Review your friends or followers and remove or “unfollow” any that don’t “spark joy”
• Delete your account or at least stop visiting sites that cause you stress or unhappiness.
• Remove posts and pictures that you no longer want associated with you–past relationships, posts you don’t want employers or others to see.
4. Apps/ Games
Having nearly unlimited digital space is great except when it is not. We can easily build up countless apps and games on our devices that we haven’t played in months.
• Some devices have a setting to automatically offload apps that aren’t used regularly. Set this up to make this happen regularly.
• Review games/apps and remove those that are no longer relevant or interesting to you.
If you love podcasts like I do, you realize how quickly you can fill up your storage with must-listens.
• Delete listened to or unwanted podcasts
• Review subscriptions and remove those you no longer want or that are not posting new content.
• Change settings to auto-delete podcasts after they have been heard.
6. Computer Files/ Music
Computer files have a tendency to hang around. I recently got a new computer and sorting through the many files I have kept for many years was enlightening.
I have been asking myself if I want to take this file with me into my new computer. Turns out that there is a lot I don’t want anymore.
• Remove old applications and files that you no longer need
• Run a defrag or other tool to clean up your computer’s bit and bytes
• Review your organization structure for ways to improve your filing system
• Review your music files– these take up a lot of space. If you really don’t listen to something, let it go.
• Consider a music service like Spotify instead of owning individual files.
7. Pictures & Sentimental Items
Pictures are one of the hardest areas to pare down but also one of the most important.
• Use an app like Slidebox to make it easier to sort through images on your phone by deleting with a simple swipe.
• Print pictures you love (preferably in a book).
• Tag photos for easier sorting.
Print the KonMari Checklist for Digital Clutter.
Hope you enjoy de-cluttering your little corner of the digital cloud with my KonMari checklist. I’m working my way through too!
Let me know how it goes by leaving me a comment below or on my Facebook page.
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