When we think of decluttering we often picture our clothes, our kid’s toys, or other stuff in our home. But how often do you take the time to look at all of your digital clutter?
I think that a lot of the time digital clutter gets forgotten because it isn’t physically in front of your face. It doesn’t often bother you until you open your computer, or start looking for a file only to stop halfway through because you’re so frustrated with being unable to find anything you’ve saved on your computer’s hard drive.
It’s about time that we stop ignoring the digital clutter and instead use the digital world in a way that can not only keep our online world in sync and organized, but also help us declutter our homes.
Are you familiar with cloud storage?
I’m sure that the majority of you are. It is a magical way that you can begin digitizing your family’s life, plus when you have everything stored virtually it becomes really really easy to share files and pictures with just a few clicks.
However, just like the junk drawer in your kitchen, without a system in place it can easily become a complete disaster. Systems aren’t just for physical things, mama!
Create a System for How You Will Organize Your Files
There’s no right or wrong, here. Just create a way to organize your files that makes sense to you. Maybe you organize by purpose, so: work, family, recreation, etc. Or, you could even organize based on events, vacation, parties, family, etc. Or, get really basic and just organize by month and year. Honestly the sky’s the limit, as long as you choose ONE consistent way that suits you best.
One thing to note, please don’t overcomplicate things! Just don’t do it to yourself!
For example, choosing to save everything by day or week will likely lead to burnout. You’ll get so sick of having to go in and label and file everything by the appropriate date.
By grouping the types of folders needed together, you’ll make it easier to keep up with. And, the biggest part of living in a minimalist way is to be able to enjoy life more, not create more burdens.
An example would be to start with the year, and then branch off from there. So...
2017 > September > Family > Photos
2017 > September > Family > Documents
2017 > September > Vacation > Photos
2017 > September > Vacation > Documents
Of course you can always come back and change anything, but if you use a method you really love from the beginning, it will help you stick to the method for the long-haul, and help remove the headache of needing to start from scratch down the road.
Resist Saving Every File
Just like it is unnecessary to save every piece of mail that you receive, it is unnecessary to save every digital file.
Take the time to go through what you already have saved, maybe take 30 minutes a day. Move everything that are MUST KEEPS into the appropriate folders so that you can easily find pictures, documents, etc in the future, whenever you might need them.
I’m sure it goes without saying, but it isn’t worth saving every blurry image, or a video that is inaudible, but at the same time don’t blindly start deleting files. Doing that could lead to accidentally losing something important or sentimental.
Then, once you’ve completed your file purge, be sure to periodically check-in to be sure you aren’t allowing clutter to build-up again. Make time to go in weekly, to quickly move things into their corresponding folder. If you keep up with this process, it shouldn’t take much time at all!
Awesome! Hopefully you’re starting to feel like your digital life can be easily brought under control. Remember, nothing needs to happen immediately, take it step by step.
Your Beloved Photos
These days it is SO easy to take and keep pictures. You no longer need to buy rolls of film, nor do you need to get them developed. Now, it’s as simple as plugging your SD card into your computer, or going to the camera roll on your phone.
However, with the ease of taking photos, comes the overwhelming urge to keep every single one. But, mama, that just isn’t necessary!
The days fly by, and your children grow up fast, but you really don’t need 8 pictures of the same scene at your daughter’s birthday party.
Instead, here’s my advice, if you have an excessive amount of photos on your phone or on your SD card, go through some each day.
If you have many different shots from about the same moment, choose ONE to keep, make it your favorite one, or the one that makes you laugh, or it can even be the one where you feel the prettiest, but make it JUST ONE.
Once you’ve pared down all of the ones on your phone and on any other storage device you have, you need to upload these to your cloud storage, using the method you chose above.
Stick to the system you created. It will make the images easier to find later on, plus you’ll keep everything clutter free!
Love Your Children’s Artwork Without It Taking Up Space
Let’s face it, our kids will be creating and bringing home artwork for many many years to come. And, we love it all! We love the little reindeer heads made out of baby feet, and the quickly colored pages that were created during library story hour, but our homes just do not allow us to keep everything.
Here are two things that I recommend you try doing.
1. Use a Folder.
Have a folder where you keep all of your children’s artwork (one for each child), but every piece of art into that folder. Then, at the end of each month, go through it with your child.
Have them choose their favorite piece that they want to keep, and then you get to choose 1 piece that you want to keep.
2. Store Digitally
This way you are able to store their work forever, without it taking up a substantial amount of space in your kitchen.
3. Ditch the rest (and the guilt).
I know, I know. It seems impossible to get rid of anything that your children create. You worry you’ll miss that one single item, but it is completely unnecessary to keep every single piece.
By completing the previous two steps, you’re allowing yourself to remove the guilt from getting rid of the papers with just a few scribbles, or stickers on it.
Replace DVDs with a Way to Watch Videos Online
Now, I want to talk about a potential eyesore in your home-- The spot where all of your DVDs are housed. Kids love movies and cartoons, and even if they don’t watch a ton, allowing them to watch it on occasion is necessary, things need to get done around the house, and let’s be honest, sometimes mama just needs a break.
The great thing is that there’s no longer a need to keep every single DVD. With services like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu you can find many of the popular cartoons and older movies there, without needing to house the physical disc in your home.
You might then be asking, what about all of the new movies that I’ve purchased, but aren’t available anywhere else?
Well, there are a couple of different things you can do, many new videos come with codes that can then be used to download digital copies on apps like VUDU. And, if you no longer have those codes, or it’s an old movie that didn’t come with one (and it isn’t available on Netflix), you can always buy a digital copy. Spending the extra money may not be your favorite thing to do, but if it helps to remove the dreaded clutter and it is one of your children’s favorite movies, it might be worth the splurge.
You could also allow your children to choose 2 or 3 movies each. Find or purchase those movies digitally, and then donate the rest.
It can be tough to get rid of beloved DVDs, or gorgeous pieces of your children’s artwork, but if they are taking up space that is leading to a clutter problem, which in turn causes you stress, it’s time to buckle down and go through everything. With the advancement in tech these days, it makes it pretty easy to keep the items that mean the most to you, nearby.
How do you digitally declutter? Leave a comment and let me know!