6 Free Ideas for a Digital Declutter

Tidy workspace, tidy mind. That’s the thinking behind “digital decluttering,” a practice of removing junk files to streamline your productivity. Like the Marie Kondo trend of Tidying Up, a digital declutter keeps only important, useful items in reach. As a result, practitioners enjoy reduced distractions and a simplified workflow.
The average worker can lose up to 45 minutes a day sifting through digital stimuli to find information needed for their jobs. Devices clogged with files and folders may even cause users similar levels of distress to a messy house.
Imagine saying goodbye to that fruitless searching, endless scrolling, and productivity-zapping clutter – and hello to an all-new, decluttered workspace.
How long will it take? The time commitment needed for a digital declutter is proportional to the cleanup itself – but even a few minutes every day can make a difference. So grab a snack, settle in, and learn some of our favorite methods for digital decluttering your workspace.

1. Be Mindful

If you’re only going to follow one piece of advice in this list, make it this one.
The whole point of a digital declutter is to optimize your digital workspace. Cutting down on excess “noise” will maximize your sanity and productivity – provided you do so wisely.
Some people are tempted to hoard files, fearing that somehow, someday, they’ll really need that roofing estimate from a contractor who went out of business six years ago.
Others discard everything too eagerly, sometimes even forgetting to hit “save” on a file before quitting Word.
Your duty is to find a balance that works for you between these extremes. Any time you’re saving or storing a file, take a moment to consider how your choices will serve you in the future, and act accordingly.

2. Choose intuitive filenames

Few time sinks are more maddening than searching and searching for a file. You just had it a couple months (or years) ago. Where could it be?
We all misplace files sometimes. The good news is that Windows search does a great job of scouring your system for your documents. The bad news is that it might not be able to track down files with generic titles. Files like “Document3 (copy).doc” and “dnjsdnfefrjsf.pdf” and “whatever.jpg” could be missing for a looong time.
Luckily, when you choose logical and consistent filenames every time you create a file, you can use those as search keywords even if the file somehow ends up saved in the wrong place. “2019 Q2 Supply Expense Report.xls,” for example, is a search-friendly name.
No time to go through all your files and rename them? That’s okay – adopt intuitive file naming going forward, for now. As you access important older documents, rename them with an eye towards what your future self will be searching for.

3. Make good use of file locations

Like our parents used to tell us, “A place for everything, and everything in its place.”
Yeah, some of us got a bit tired of hearing it. But the old folks were right. When organizing a space – physical or digital – finding a home for everything is key.
The best system is the one that will work for you. You could give each of your projects a designated folder and keep all relevant files in it. You could also organize your files by type, storing images and PowerPoints each in their own folder.
However you choose to store files, make sure you use a logical hierarchy so that you can easily find the folders later. Remember to choose easily-searchable names!

4. Remove unneeded programs and files

If it’s safe to do so, uninstall, delete, or archive all those unused files. You know the ones: junk like event invite designs from 2019 or a photo editor you only used once. 
Getting rid of excess documents is a great way to reduce digital clutter. When your folders only contain necessary files, the data you do want will always be right at your fingertips.
If you’re finished with a file for now but might need it later, consider making an “archive” folder for your records. You can also back up files to cloud-based storage to remove them from everyday viewing while still keeping them safe.

5. Archive old emails and messages

Move past the world of your desktop to digital declutter your inbox. By archiving emails that are no longer relevant, you remove a source of clutter while still saving them for search if they’re ever necessary in the future.
You can also archive old DMs, reserving the main page of your chats for current conversations only.

6. Optimize the taskbar

The taskbar is the user interface at the bottom of the screen which houses the start menu and displays the time. You can pin your most-used programs to it (and unpin the ones you rarely touch) as another way to customize and organize your device.
To pin (and unpin), right-click on its taskbar icon. You may need to open the program first to get the icon to appear. You can also pin and unpin tiles in the start menu.


These are a few ideas to get you started. Think about your digital space and all its contents in relation to what they should be doing for you – and then try to optimize it for success.
With these tips, you can simplify your digital workspace and minimize distractions. Regular decluttering practices will help you maintain a stress-free digital environment. Start today: declutter your digital workspace and reap the benefits of a tidy mind.