Decluttering your space doesn’t just happen in real-life; it also applies to the lives that most of us spend our time on. I am talking about emails – especially emails – and the health of your laptop, in general. The wonderful thing about “digital life” is that our mess isn’t immediately visible but even if it is, there is a software that does the cleaning for us.

*Sigh* How easy cleaning would be if real-life is as such?

By cleaning up your “digital life”, you would become more focused on the important things and spend less time looking for that one particular file which you’ve downloaded or saved ages ago. In other words: less clutter, less stress!

It is essentially the same concept as in reality. And believe it or not, you would be surprised at how those piles of pictures and documents hinder us from maximising our time to be productive. They take up a lot of our mental space.

Desktop and Disks

  1. Make sure your anti-virus and Operating System are up-to-date

Are you the person who keeps on delaying updates because you find it a hassle to restart your computer?

I get you because I am one of those people.

After the outbreak of WannaCry Ransomware – affecting 150 countries – last week, I’ve become more conscious about the state of my laptop and since then, became more aware of updates and would not think twice about restarting. What happens is when a person’s OS gets affected, their data is encrypted and the ransomware would demand a payment – that increases with time – with no guarantee that your data will be decrypted.

Microsoft users are the vulnerable ones, especially those who are still using Windows XP. By all means: avoid suspicious sites and links. Better be safe than sorry.

Your anti-virus or windows defender will keep those troubles at bay and your money in your pocket.

  1. Schedule Disk Cleanup and Defragment

I remember being so frustrated because my laptop – which was still quite new back then – was infuriatingly slow while I was doing an assignment. At that point, I ended up “cleaning” up my laptop rather than doing my work. It took a lot of time because downloaded files and documents accumulated over time, especially as a university student. As someone who tends to be a bit lost with details, you can imagine how I spent so much time on categorising – even with the most trivial things. After that, I decided to be more wary about where I put what.

I am not an IT expert but when it comes to cleaning my laptop, there are a few routines that I do every now and then where I spend about a few minutes to do this. Fragmentation and overly loaded disks cause lag in the system which would delay your work productivity. So, disk cleanup and defragments are crucial for the system to be as efficient as it should be. Most computers do this automatically, but if your computer system doesn’t: it’s worth it to schedule a disk cleanup and defragment so you won’t have to do it manually.

  1. Store and back up in hard-disks

It’s time to put those pictures you’ve hoarded in your laptop to your hard-disks! Going back to the WannaCry story, it’s best to back up your most valuable data in a hard-disk – or multiple, if you’re paranoid – and make sure they are virus- and malware-free.

  1. Delete shortcuts on your desktop

It’s tempting to keep everything in a place where you can reach them easily. Just as you would prefer to keep your most used object in real life in the open space: it is no different when it comes to the “digital life”. If space is limited, it would easily be cluttered when we’re not consistent with putting things where they belong.

Nowadays, I have the habit of saving temporary files in the desktop so I would delete them when I no longer need them. As a rule, I limit myself 3 rows of shortcuts in my desktop and delete those that I don’t often use. Better yet, I would delete the software that I haven’t used in a long time – say, for a year – except for those that I have paid for.

declutter your digital life

Emails and Internet Browser

  1. Have different emails for different niches – but not too many.

Hands up if you don’t like signing into your email accounts? We’re all guilty for having had thousands of emails that we never had the time to open or just couldn’t be bothered to. I personally have two emails in which one is for all my social media accounts, online shopping, and other subscriptions while the other one is a work-related email. When you’re signed in to your work account, your mind will only focus on work and not some random discount of a shop thousands of miles away from home.

Other than that, if you prefer the old-school style – communicating friends through emails – it might a good idea to have two separate emails. The last thing that you would want to do is to confuse your friends’ emails with your colleagues’ where you might accidentally send a personal email to a colleague, which would leave you in an awkward position.

You can have as many as your mind can take to distinguish the purpose of one email to the other. But remember, it’s not going to declutter your mind if you have too much!

  1. Colour-code or categorise your email

There are options for Outlook and Google emails where you can categorise emails. This is useful if you prefer having one email for all purposes.

  1. Flag important emails and delete the rest

I love doing this because it sets the important ones – I mean, that’s what flags are for anyway – apart from random emails or social media notifications. It saves a lot of time when scanning through the email or looking through one by one just to be sure. The rule is to not mix up the emails with high priority to those of low. That way, you can easily delete all emails at once while the flagged ones are not disturbed.

  1. Unsubscribe!

I used to subscribe to websites that I thought I was interested in and mindlessly registered to them so that I could get a free ebook, shop discounts or coffee points. All of those were actually a one-time thing. I would usually ignore them upon receiving the emails and only delete them during one of my “spring cleans”. Guys, subscribe only to the websites that you’ve sworn your soul to commit to (a bit romanticized, but okay) and those you would surely visit again.

  1. Clear your history and cache for your internet browsers.

The size of my history caches and temporary files could go up to 500MB – which is quite a lot just for a browser – in a month or two. Clearing these is effortless. Just go to your internet browser’s history, clear it all and don’t look back!

To sum it up…

If you are doing a physical spring clean anytime soon, don’t forget to think about decluttering your “digital life” too. After all, most of us spend every day in front of a computer to get our work done with some of that time on social media. It’s not just the physical space that affects our mental health, but all that makes up our lives – even if they are technically intangible.


Syaza is a freelance writer whose life revolves around coffee, cats and heartwarming stories.