Decluttering Technology {The Secret to Decluttering}

October 11, 2015

Technology is one area of your life that can become cluttered quickly.  Whether it is your computer, cell phone, storage devices, or inbox, it is important to spend time decluttering regularly to keep the job manageable.

An area that I really seem to be struggling with right now is in technology.  USB drives, camera cards, my computer desktop, cell phone, and even my Pinterest boards.  We've been defining clutter as anything that overwhelms life and your home and keeps you from being productive.  Does your technology world overwhelm you?

Today our series on decluttering continues.  Unlike in previous weeks, though, this week we are focusing on different areas across our blogs.....areas where we feel as though we are struggling and can shed some hope and help in case you are as well.

Affiliate links are provided in this post for your convenience.  For more information, you can view my disclosure policy.

In case this is your first time here, each Sunday I'm joining some of my blogging friends in posting about my views about how to gain control over your clutter.  Many of us are focusing on things that we learned from The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up  by Marie Kondo.  Links to everyone's posts this week appear at the end of this post.

I'd like to say that I live a perfectly organized, clutter free life when it comes to my technology world.....but it is far from it.  Quite honestly, everywhere I look I see clutter that I've allowed to build up.  And sometimes it is done with the best of intentions, but with no system to keep things organized I wind up not be able to find anything at all.

Clutter in this area leads to frustration when something you've saved cannot be found.

It wastes time searching.

And it costs money.  Maybe it was your car insurance that you forgot to pay because the email got so far down in your inbox you didn't notice anymore.  Or maybe it is the dollars spent each time you need to buy a new camera card or USB drive because you never properly store the images and information they hold.

We know that we need to declutter and organize our physical homes and lives, but in the modern world we live in it is equally as important to declutter our digital lives.   So today I'm sharing my tips for taming clutter in different areas of technology.

There are some terms and information that may be new to you today, like cloud storage and secret Pinterest boards.  If anything is unclear, feel free to Google the topics to get a clear grasp on what it is I'm talking about!


I can't speak for your incoming mail, but mine comes at a speed that I almost can't handle.  Most of it is junk.

And to compound the problem, including personal email and work email, I have six addresses that I receive mail from on a daily basis.  Not very efficient if you ask me.

So what can you do to tame your inbox clutter?

Start at one end of your inbox, either the oldest or newest messages, and go message by message.  (When I've let my messages really build up, I like to use the feature that sorts the emails by who they are from to be more efficient.  I can delete whole groups of emails at one time that way.)

  • Unsubscribe from mailing lists and promotions that you are not seriously interested in.

  • Delete the messages that are garbage.

  • Take action on those that need to be dealt with.

  • And create folders for sorting messages that you need to save.

Just as I posted when we were decluttering our clothes, you should only "touch" each email once.  Don't just open the emails and decide to get back to them later.  (Easier said than done, I know!)  Procrastinating only makes the problem worse.  The emails will not disappear on their own.

I've created special folders for emails that I need to reply to when I get a chance and the notifications of comments that have been left on my blog.  That way my inbox stays clean, and allows me to easily find these types of messages when I have the time to devote to replying to them.  And yes, this defeats the whole purpose of me saying to touch each email only once.  But because I like to give a heartfelt response to all the comments I receive, it is more efficient to reply a couple times a week to everyone rather than each individual comment as it comes in.

A good way to keep the clutter in your inbox to a minimum is to unsubscribe from the newsletters and mailings that you aren't really interested in.  There are stores that I shop at occasionally that send sales and coupons numerous times during the week.  When I plan on going shopping at stores like this I always check online for these offers anyways so they aren't really necessary reminders for all the other days and weeks when I'm not going to their store.

And the best way to keep your email inbox from becoming cluttered?  Make sure it is empty every night before you go to bed.  As refreshing as it can feel to have your desktop cleared off after a day at work, you can feel the same after cleaning out your inbox.  It allows you to start fresh each and every day.  Even though some messages may have been put into folders and haven't been cleaned away, you know that they have been seen and able to be found and taken care of.

Storage devices

After taking pictures to post on my blog, I sort through them and save all the originals that I want to edit into a labeled folder on a USB drive.  The photos are then deleted off of my camera card.  Then I save all the edited photos for my blog into a separate folder with the originals.

Documents with information that I need to refer to are printed out and then saved into separate folders in my cloud.  Purchased Ebooks are stored in this manner as well.

Haha.....I'm laughing as I type this.

That is always my plan, but right now I have four almost full USB drives of blog pictures, PDF files, and word documents and my camera card often needs to have some pictures deleted just so that I can take more.  And when I do need to access a picture or refer to one of the aforementioned files, I have to search through numerous folders on the different USB drives.....and then normally find  that it was saved to my computer's desktop.  This is not an organized system.

You need to come up with a plan for how you are going to handle your storage devices like camera cards and USB drives.

Are you okay with owning multiples that contain all of your information?  That is perfectly fine, but how are you going to keep track of what is stored where?  And where are you going to store the used devices so that they are all together when you need to find something?

Or do you prefer to have everything stored online?  And what are your plans for organizing it for easy access?

And what are your views of having multiple backups just in case your device fails or your storage is hacked?

There is a lot to consider and keeping everything organized can be quite a chore whether you are a blogger or not.  Like I mentioned with having your inbox clean every night, having your storage devices cleaned after each use is the best way to tame this problem.  Or you at least need a system of transferring everything over once a week, once a month, etc.

I still hold tight to my "dream" system described above and maybe one day I'll be able to say that really is exactly how I do it!


Computers can get messy very quickly if you aren't careful.  Downloaded files begin to take up space on your hard drive.  Programs, documents, and images begin to fill up your desktop.  And all those cookies from websites that you visit can slow down your internet browsing.

Again, you need to develop a set system for handling all this.

  • Once a week, clean out the folder that holds everything that is downloaded off of the internet.

  • Store images and documents onto a storage device or online in a cloud storage system.

  • Clear out your cookies and browsing history in your internet browser.

  • If there is information that needs to be stored on your computer, create folders on your desktop to organize things so that your computer screen is not a sea of icons that you must sort through.

  • And one of the most important things you can do to declutter your computer?  Get rid of all those programs that you aren't ever going to use.  Computers come with a lot of software installed, most of which will never be opened.  Think about what you really use on your computer (Google Chrome, Solitaire, Lightroom, etc.)  and uninstall the rest.

Cell phone

Your smart phone is likely filled with pictures you've taken and apps you've downloaded.

Just as I said with your computer, look through those apps and decide what you really use and uninstall the ones that are just taking up space on your phone.  Many of these apps were likely free and could be downloaded again in the future if you decide you do indeed need it.

And take a look at the pictures you've taken.  If they are ones you want to keep, then they should be stored in the way you decided to store everything else.  Delete the images you don't need.

Pinterest boards

Years ago before Pinterest, there were pages ripped out of magazines and cookbooks.  Some women may have had an organized system for keeping track of everything.  But most likely these rip outs were thrown in a drawer or maybe a folder and never looked at again.  Things that you did want to use were likely hard to find.

And now we have Pinterest and are all organized, right?

Nope.  The only difference is that our ripped out clutter is now digital.

Take a moment and look at a specific board on your Pinterest page.  Is everything you pinned still something you are interested in?  And the things you do want to keep.....are they organized in a way that you'll be able to find them again?  For example, I pin quite a few recipes from time to time and save them all to my recipe board because someone following this board likely wants to see a variety of yummy treats.  But then I have to search for a cheesecake recipe in with cookies, chicken, and cake.  So, I also have a board devoted to cheesecakes where I can easily find what I'm looking for.....there may be very few people interested in following this board, but that is fine because it is there to keep me organized.  These kind of boards could even be made secret if you don't want to be seen pinning twice.  You can also set up sections within each board to divide things further.

It is a good habit to get into to occasionally go through your boards and pins to keep them up to date.  Delete what you no longer need.  Move pins to boards that are more appropriate.  And take the time to check out the posts that you're interested in when you find them.  By saving that part for later, you'll likely miss out on something you may really need or enjoy.

I feel like I threw  a lot of information and things to do at you today, but hopefully there were tips here that you can really use.  Sometimes I think that we don't even realize just how cluttered this part of our life has become.  By developing some systems and taking a bit of our time each day to stay ahead of the digital buildup, we can become more efficient and a little less stressed.

And now here are the links to everyone else's posts today....

In case you've missed the previous posts in this series....

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