Digital Decluttering: 4 Ways to Organize (and Simplify!) Your E-Life

Digital Decluttering: 4 Ways to Organize (and Simplify!) Your E-Life

You’ve deep-cleaned the kitchen, boxed up the winter sweaters, and dealt with that endless black hole of a top desk drawer. Spring cleaning 2015 ... check!

Not so fast.

Decluttering isn’t just reserved for your home—in today’s internet age, digital debris can leave you feeling just as disorganized.

So in the spirit of seasonal sprucing, we asked Janice Russell, a productivity coach and professional organizer based in Raleigh, N.C., to give us the scoop on how to get your e-life in better order.

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Decluttering ... Your Smartphone

Today, there’s an app for everything. But after a certain point, usability goes out the window when you’re wasting time sliding through lots of screens in search of an icon.

If your iPhone has started to resemble a digital junk drawer, it’s time for a little tidying.

The Digital Fix “Ask yourself, 'What do I want to use my phone for?’ And then equip it accordingly,” Russell says.

Maybe you're a jetsetter who relies on your smartphone to save on airfare and last-minute hotel bookings. Or perhaps your grueling commute means you're all about e-reader apps and games to keep you entertained. Whatever it is, make sure your iPhone apps are geared toward those top uses—and delete the others.

Once you’re left with only the programs you use often, Russell suggests grouping them into specific “landing screens.”

On most phones a simple drag-drop process automatically creates these folders, which can then be labeled with whatever category names resonate for you, like “social media,” “travel,” “kids,” or “eating/drinking.”

The result? You'll be spending more time actually enjoying your smartphone apps than swiping past them.

RELATED: 10 Apps That Could Supercharge Your Career

Decluttering ... Your Social Media

If you're starting to feel like social sites just flood you with feeds and nag with notifications, you’re not alone.

But e-visibility can be vital for crafting a positive online reputation—especially if you're on on the job hunt—so deleting profiles may not be the smartest solution.

Instead, Russell suggests simplifying your social.

The Digital Fix Enter Hootsuite. This free social media manager centralizes all of your profiles onto one clean dashboard.

You can check out what folks you follow are posting to multiple platforms—including Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn—at once, plus send and schedule updates of your own across channels.

RELATED: Recruiters Confess: 6 Social Media No-Nos That Can Knock You Out of the Running

Translation: No more signing in and out and toggling between browsers or apps.

“Social media can be a great time suck for many of my clients,” Russell says. “So I’m all about streamlining the time we do have to devote."

Russell emphasizes this bottom-line truth: There are only three things you should do with an email—act on it, file it or delete it.

Decluttering ... Your Inbox

Fact: Your inbox is meant to be a temporary home for incoming messages.

But somewhere along the way, yours morphed into a de facto to-do list—or an ever-expanding folder of all past, present and future emails.

The Digital Fix When Russell works with clients who have unwieldy inboxes, she emphasizes this bottom-line truth: There are only three things you should do with an email—act on it, file it or delete it.

That's why she suggests setting up the "act-file-delete" system, where any message you can’t immediately respond to or trash is organized into a specific folder, with such labels as “Reference,” “To-Do,” “Back Burner" or "Newsletters."

And the system doesn’t just apply to incoming mail.

Take a cue from career blogger Alison Greene, who created a “Waiting For” folder for herself where she drags sent messages for which she needs an answer. Then, she checks the folder every few days to see which recipients she should nudge.

Decluttering ... Your E-Security

If you're vigilant about online security, you've thought up a unique passcode for every account you own.

The problem? It often leads to an ongoing game of resetting your logins after that obscure numbers/symbols/random capitalization combination escaped you yet again.

The Digital Fix Lose the temptation to jot every code on a Post-it, and set up a password manager like Dashlane to securely store them for you.

While there's no shortage of online password managers out there, Dashlane is leading the pack. The free site's ease has earned it rave reviews from tech authorities like PC Mag and CNET.

And it's Russell's go-to solution: "I love that Dashlane both tells me whether or not my passwords are weak, plus automatically logs me in across my devices."

That's right—once you sign in, any other password-protected site you log into will automatically come up without you having to type in the codes yourself.

It’s the ultimate stress reliever for anyone who feels like they have more Internet passwords than Facebook friends.

RELATED: I Was Bank Hacked! An Honest Look at U.S. Banking Security

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