digital decluttering challenge
Minimalism & Decluttering

Digital Decluttering Challenge- A QuickStart Guide to Becoming a Digital Minimalist

digital decluttering challenge

What’s inside: A 7-day digital decluttering challenge to simplify your technological life {plus a free checklist}

Over 5 billion people have mobile phones. Nearly 4.4 billion people have internet. There are almost 3 billion people active on social media. We have become a digital world. And just like our physical spaces, our digital lives have become overrun with clutter. Apps. Documents. Media files. Emails. Podcasts. Books. The list of digital possessions in your hand or on your computer is staggering.

All that stuff- that digital clutter- distracts you from your priorities and zaps your productivity.  While it might not be as glaringly obvious as a room off Hoarders, I’m confident that if you go through this 7-day digital decluttering challenge, you will feel lighter, more productive, and more in control of your digital life.

What is digital minimalism?

In his book, Digital Minimalism, Cal Newport defines digital minimalism as, “A philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.” In other words, simplify your technological life use by being intentional, by selecting only those things that bring you joy or provide value to your life.

How do I become a digital minimalist?

Diving into the world of digital minimalism means focusing change around three main components:

1. Choice & intention

Focus your digital life on what you want and in the ways you want. Determine what connects to your core values and then only use the technology that supports those values.

2. Optimization

Select the tools that work for you and declutter those that do not. Declutter the tools that are not useful to you or do not add value to your life in some way.

3. Embracing FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)

Understand that being a digital minimalist means you will not be everywhere all the time when it comes to technology. By being selective and intentional in your digital life, you will miss out on things, but I suspect you will gain so much more than you lose.

Clear Digital Clutter with this 7 Day Digital Decluttering Challenge

A brief caveat- just as no two people are exactly alike, so our digital lives are varied. Use this challenge as a guide, but feel free to adjust accordingly. If you need two or three days to properly declutter your photos, take it. If document storage isn’t really a big issue for you, maybe tackle another challenge in combination with that. Move through the digital decluttering process at a pace that works for you and honors the process.

Digital Decluttering Challenge Day One: Your Phone

1. Delete apps you don’t use

Get rid of any apps you don’t regularly use so that you can optimize your folders and home screen. Clearing the digital clutter on your home screen will simplify the actions
you take on your phone- you’ll be able to find things more easily and won’t be distracted by apps that don’t add value to your life.

2. Consider reorganizing your apps

Organize apps in folders by color instead of by type
We can easily recall an app’s icon by picturing it in our head, so it’s easier to reference an app based on a visual color versus a utility or purpose. Plus, organizing by color makes your home screen more appealing.

• Create a digital minimalist home screen
Minimize your home screen by placing your four most used apps on the bottom dock of your home screen. Place everything else in a single folder and use your phone’s search feature to pull up apps when you need them.

3. Clear out your notepad app

Remove any notes that are irrelevant or unnecessary

4. Zen wallpaper

Select a simple wallpaper that helps you remember your focus and priorities. Consider a meaningful quote, a picture of your kids, or a shot from your favorite place.

Digital Decluttering Challenge Day Two: Your Computer

1. Remove digital clutter from your desktop

Delete old screenshots, create folders for organizing, and streamline your apps so that your desktop is simplified

2. Clear out your downloads folder

Erase downloads that are already stored elsewhere or save the items that need relocating. Work to keep this folder empty to reduce storage use and simplify your digital life

3. Declutter & simplify your bookmark bar

• Delete old bookmarks you no longer reference

• Organize bookmarks into folders for easy access

digital decluttering challenge

Digital Decluttering Challenge Day Three: Document Storage

Clear digital clutter in your online document storage. Programs like Dropbox and Google Drive are great for cloud storage, but just like a physical file cabinet, they can become cluttered with documents if not routinely organized and purged.

  • Eliminate documents you no longer use or need
  • Organize remaining documents into folders for ease of use

Digital Decluttering Challenge Day Four: Photos

Having cameras at our fingertips gives us a great opportunity to capture so many of life’s little moments. And unlike film, there is no cost to take as many shots as we want to get that “perfect” one.

However, because of this, our phones are filled with thousands of pictures, many of which are slight variations of each other. Here are some tips to help declutter your digital photography.

1. Keep only the best

Look through your pictures and select only the best from each photo session. You’re more likely to enjoy looking at your photos when you can actually find the ones you enjoy the most.

2. Organize into folders

Simplify your photos by creating folders for specific people, pets, events, or travel destinations to easily reference your memories.

3. Back up your memories

Back up your photos to online cloud storage or hard drive so that you don’t have to worry about losing them if your phone is lost, your laptop crashes, or your home is damaged in some kind of disaster.

4. Create a photo book

Consider curating your favorite photos for a photo book. We enjoy making photo books after each vacation we take to capture the memories of the trip. We also want to start making an annual book of our family so that we can remember milestones and special occasions with our kids. Getting your photos off your screen and into your hands is a great way to clear digital photography clutter.

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Digital Decluttering Challenge Day Five: Social Media

1. Delete accounts you don’t use or truly enjoy

2. Clear your digital feed

As a digital minimalist, it’s important to unsubscribe from groups or pages that don’t add value to your life. Simplify the information you receive by choosing to follow pages or groups that align to your priorities.

3. Declutter toxic people or sources

Unfriend or remove people that consistently drain your energy or spew negativity out into the world. If you’re concerned with how unfriending them might impact your relationship with them outside of social media, consider unfollowing them. You’ll still be friends, but you won’t see what they publish unless you go searching for it.

4. Turn off notifications

Reduce distractions and FOMO (fear of missing out) but removing app notifications. You’re less likely to check social media when it’s not constantly chiming to remind you of what you are missing.

5. Reduce your social media exposure

Set a cap on the time you’ll use social media each day. Consider social media free days or times to reduce your connectivity. Try a social media detox or challenge and see how reducing or eliminating social media screen time can transform your life.

Digital Decluttering Challenge Day Six: Email

1. Unsubscribe from newsletters you don’t read

Be selective and only follow the newsletters from bloggers or companies you’re truly passionate about.

2. Unsubscribe from company mailing lists

Get rid of the constant barrage of store coupons, flash sales, and special buy events. Not only will it bring more peace to your inbox, but you’ll be a lot less tempted to spend money or go shopping as well.

3. Edit your contacts list

Review your contacts list and edit out contacts you no longer use or need. If you haven’t talked with that person in several years, it’s highly likely that contact information isn’t relevant or current anyway.

4. Inbox Zero (or at least minimized)

Inbox Zero is a no-nonsense approach to email management aimed at keeping your inbox empty (or as empty as possible) at all times. Read about Inbox Zero and give it a try. See if simplifying your email system won’t improve your productivity and lessen your overwhelm.

5. Organize messages into folders

6. Regularly prune your inbox

Set aside time regularly to keep your inbox pruned. Continue to unsubscribe from newsletters that don’t provide value, coupons you don’t use, or junk mail you don’t open. Regularly process emails into folders to keep your inbox minimized.

digital decluttering challenge

Digital Decluttering Challenge Day Seven: Subscriptions & Services

Review your digital subscriptions & services to evaluate their usefulness. There are soooooo many digital subscription and service choices nowadays! As a digital minimalist, it’s important to spend time reviewing all of your subscriptions and services, whether paid or free, to determine their usefulness.

Write down every digital subscription or service you currently use. This includes media and music services (Netflix, Amazon, Pandora, etc), books (Kindle, Audible, etc), online newspapers and magazines, health services, etc.

• Do you use the subscription/service regularly?
• If the subscription/service is paid, is it worth its cost?
• Does this subscription/service add value to your life in some way?

Focus on decluttering any subscription or service that isn’t aligned to your intentions or doesn’t support your digital life goals.

Become a Digital Minimalist

Use this challenge to clear the digital clutter in your life. Keep technology in its proper place- as a tool that enhances and enriches life, not an authority that dictates your time or manipulates your priorities.

Become a digital minimalist and carefully craft a technological life that aligns to your priorities and supports your goals. Focus your online time on selective activities that support things you value and eliminate the rest.

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