Clean Up Your Digital Life This Summer

by Susan Murphy

shutterstock_127224989One of the best things about summer is that the pace of life slows down a bit – the phone rings less, emails aren’t so fast and furious, and it’s a lot quieter at the office.  It’s a great time to get your digital life in order – to clean up your computer(s), re-organize files, and try out some new ways of doing things. Here are a few ways to get your digital world organized so you can hit the ground running in September!

Computer Clean Up

No matter whether you’re a Mac or a PC, over time your computer can become cluttered with extra files and applications that can really slow things down. A quiet afternoon is the perfect time to get in there and clean up some of that mess. You can start by simply taking a look at your hard drive. Are there files sitting in there that can be backed up to a portable hard drive or cloud tool like Dropbox? You should be doing this regularly anyway, so if you’re not, now is the perfect time to get into the habit. Also dive into your applications folder and delete any apps you aren’t using. It’s like cleaning your closet – my rule is, if I haven’t used it in 6 months, I get rid of it!

If you really want to do a solid clean up, get an app to help you out. I recommend CleanMyMac for Mac people and CleanMyPC for PC users. It costs about $40 but it’s worth every penny. It’s like a vacuum cleaner for your computer – it will scoop up all those hidden files lurking in the back corners of your computer and delete them safely – so you never have to worry about deleting the wrong thing and messing up an application.

While you’re at it, go in and clean up your mobile devices too – we all download apps to our smart phones and tablets that we never end up using. They just take up space, so get rid of them if you’re not using them!

Social Clean Up

Follow, friend, follow, friend. It’s one of those things we just do on social networks. We haphazardly accept friend requests, only to be annoyed by the mountain of posts describing in detail every aspect of our new friend’s life. We follow new people  on Twitter because they seem interesting, but discover later that we’re not that interested in their feed after all. Before we know it, we’ve got a lot of noise in our stream and not enough signal.

Take a few hours to scour your following and friend lists, so you can weed out some of the stuff you’re no longer interested in. Take some time to organize your Twitter feed into lists (here’s how). I have one that is a subset of about 300 accounts that I want to see on a regular basis, and I find it filters out a lot of the noise of Twitter. On Facebook you can do the same – people you put in the “Close Friends” category will show up in your stream most often, “Acquaintances” less so. You can even hide the super-annoying life streamer completely if you like. Taking a bit of time to filter your social streams will pay off huge in the long run, I promise!

Get That Email Under Control

I once saw someone’s email inbox count : 23,000 unread messages! I can’t imagine not being stressed by that. Quiet summer days are the perfect time to get your email under control for once and for all. First, go into your social and app accounts and remove all unnecessary email notifications. Seriously, you don’t need to get an email every time someone likes your post on Facebook – honest! Once that’s done, the volume of your incoming email will reduce dramatically.

Second, set up some filters or folders to file your email in, or just do what I do – Archive any email you want to keep. Then if you need it again, all you need to do is search for it. This works best on Gmail and Mac Mail, but other email programs support Archiving and Searching too. Once I’ve dealt with an email, I either Archive it or Delete it. As a result my inbox is almost always clear. You CAN conquer email! Take some time to get your inbox organized then adopt some good habits of keeping it clear. Your life will be better for it!

There you have it – three simple ways to clean up your digital life during quiet summer days. Do you have any digital clean up tips of your own? Share them in the comments!


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