It’s well-established that physical clutter impairs your productivity and focus, so you should try to tidy up your desk and surroundings as often as possible — but you should also start applying that practice to your desktop. So much of our lives takes place on the phone and computer, so a cluttered digital space is no good for keeping your brain operating at top speed either.
Research has shown that clutter can make you exhausted, stressed, and burnt out. You feel better when there’s less junk crowding up your vision and space, but an unmanaged desktop or home screen can have the same nasty effects, per Psychology Today.
Take stock of your desktop, your tabs, your inbox, and your home screen: How many different windows do you have open right now? They are not only bogging down your mental energy, but your device’s energy, too.
When and how to declutter your devices
Aim to start each week with a digital decluttering. It doesn’t have to take more than 15 minutes, but you’ll be more productive when it’s done, so it’s a good investment of your time.
On your desktop, create folders that can store whatever you need, whether those are documents for work or screenshots for your side business. Each Monday, go through whatever docs or pics have accumulated on the desktop and stick them in their respective folders so the whole thing looks cleaner. Do the same thing with any new apps you’ve put on your phone. There’s no reason to scroll through pages and pages of apps to find the one you need when you can stash it in a folder and keep your home screen organised. Only keep the necessary, daily-use folders available on your desktop and home screen. The rest should be banished somewhere invisible, but searchable.
Close all open windows you’re not using — and all the tabs left over from your last browsing session. If you really need something available, bookmark it. Get in the habit of closing tabs whenever you’re done with them. (Check for minimized browser windows, too; I always have at least three that need to be closed.)
Next up is email. We’ve recommended the “one-touch” method of inbox management before, and it works great here: Open every email you’ve gotten in the last week and either delete it or archive it, depending on whether you anticipate needing it later. Anything you archive, be sure to set aside time to respond to it later in the day or week.
Perhaps most importantly, delete as you go. If you downloaded an app for a single purpose and don’t use it anymore, delete it. If you have docs in your files from an old class or work project, delete them. Stick to doing this for the first 15 minutes every Monday (or whenever you start your week) to dramatically reduce your digital clutter and any related stress.
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