What is a digital declutter, and what’s the best way to go about it? This week I spoke to Amanda Littlecott from Clear Bubble, a professional photo organiser who knows a thing or two about decluttering. Here’s what I learned from her.
Digital devices and data
We all have old phones, tablets, USB drives, computers and other devices languishing in our homes. What do they contain, and do we still need them?
1 Find everything
You’ll be surprised how much you have tucked away in boxes, cupboards and drawers. Knowing how much you have will help you address what needs to be done.
Keep important ‘paperwork’ for seven years but be honest with yourself about the rest of your files; do you really need them, or multiple copies of them?
Do you need spare out-of-date phones and other items? Donate or sell your unwanted goods. You can even get old computers collected for free (check for providers online) – just make sure you restore the factory settings on them. If you deliver your old Apple products to your local Mac store they will recycle them for you.
Set up regular reviews of your tech and data, deleting files or putting in folders as needed. You can do this in ‘down time’, for example you can review your photos on a train journey. There are even programmes out there like Clean My Mac or Clean My PC that will help with the job as well.
So much of our lives is now online. We know that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social accounts hold information about us, but we also have many hidden accounts, for example those we use to shop with, that also hold our details.
Do you have social media accounts you no longer use? Shops and services accounts that are redundant? Cloud storage that hasn’t been touched for years? Memberships of online communities?
Most of us have about 200 accounts, many of which we can’t remember. If that’s the case, look through your emails to remind yourself who you have an account with, or check your Chrome, Safari or Firefox passwords. Search your emails for phrases such as ‘welcome’, sign-up’, confirm e-mail’ to identify some of these. Then decide if you really need that account. If you don’t, delete it. Look also at the apps on your phone. You probably had to create an account to use them.
This isn’t a quick fix, it will take time, but it will enable you to keep your clutter under control.
How much of you are you putting out there? What impression is it giving to others? Your reputation is important; be careful what you post.
On social media, make sure that the security level is correct, and only the people you want to are viewing your posts. It is always best to set up 2-factor authentication on any applications to keep them extra safe, especially from hacking.
Google yourself. You might be surprised by what comes up. If images of you, or something you have written, come up unexpectedly (and are unwelcome) you can ask the website to take it down.
When you die, your loved ones may want to access your files and photos. Your executors will also need to look at your online accounts, including bank accounts. One way to let them do this is to use a Password Manager like 1Password, Dashlane or LastPass. That way, you just need to remember one strong master password to access them all. Keep the master password with your will. Your executors will need passwords for the following:
Bank accounts, credit cards, store cards, savings and PayPal. If you have cryptocurrency they’ll need to be able to manage that too.
2 Loyalty points
You may have amassed loyalty points which could be worth money. Make sure your store cards, travel loyalty schemes and website loyalty memberships are accessible.
You probably own music, films, e-books, and images which you’d like to pass on.
Let your loved ones know whether you’d like to share, memorialise or delete your social media accounts.
Feeling overwhelmed? Admittedly this is a lot of work and will take time but you can do it. If you’d like to know more about digital decluttering, check out the Clear Bubble blog, YouTube channel or if you feel you need professional help contact Amanda. She has always been enthusiastic about organising and simplifying and will be able to help you do the same.
You can read more posts like this in the Business category of this blog.