How I Finally Got It All Organized
Clutter is the opposite of motivational for me (whatever that word is). It takes over my mind with feelings of overwhelm and discouragement.
Whenever I want to start a new project, or begin a new task, or even prepare a meal, the very first step: clear a space to work.
The same goes for my digital spaces. When my photo gallery gets too junky, I avoid my pictures altogether. If my email inbox is looking out of control I get in and out of that thing as quickly as possible.
Here are the steps that I took to clean up my digital clutter and hit the reset button on my devices.
there's no perfect time
Personally, this urge came over me because I was transferring my website domain. My old one had completely uncategorized photos, deactivated plug-ins left and right, and I never really felt like I had nailed down a solid core for my blog content. Moving over meant that I would pretty much be starting it from scratch in these regards, so I took that as my chance. Having tidied while transferring though, I wish I had just done it much sooner.
The rationale that big sweeping cleanouts should be saved for year's end or spring cleaning or some other arbitrary day can be an easy way to validate that procrastinator spirit. Just get cleaning now. You'll be happier when the end of the year finally does roll around because everything will already in place to start fresh.
where to start
I thought the downloads folder on my computer would be the easiest step, since I've only had my computer for a few months. It took far longer than I'd like to admit, so I won't even get into that. I will say that starting here might have been the perfect place. With the goal of having the folder completely empty, I was forced to create folders and archives for all of these items (or throw them in the trash) which helped me get a better system setup.
email chaos corralled
After tackling the Downloads Folder I was on top of the world and decided to just jump right into clearing out my email inbox. I started by sorting emails into four categories:
- Follow-Up: Emails that I still need to complete a task on, or am waiting on a response for, or anything with a to-do attached.
- For Reference: These emails hold special links I still need, old coupon codes that haven't quite expired yet, guides, login in/account setup information, etc.
- Scheduled: Emails that have a deadline or set date attached to them for any reason.
- Inspo: Holds emails with concepts I want to try in my business.
Anything that didn't fit into these categories was either archived, or went directly into the Trash.
storing and sorting my photos
My poor phone's photos app finally ran out storage two weeks before my baby was due, so I had to take care of that mess immediately. I didn't want to risk that dreaded storage full error when trying to snap photos of one of my new favorite people.
I started by doing a big sweep through the Screenshots album. Almost everything in there was junk now.
After screenshots I cleared out the videos section. It was almost comical how my phone started to speed up performance as I did this. Once all of the videos were either moved to their new homes or deleted, I moved on to pictures. Luckily, I have only had the phone since early last year so most of the pictures and memories were still pretty fresh.
I removed duplicated photos, blurry or unusable pictures, and all of the photos my two-year-old must have taken. Once I had done the big clear out, I went through each month. I printed and deleted photos simultaneously to save time and energy. I printed out pictures I wanted to frame or add to my scrapbook, deleted what I could, and sent the pictures I wanted to keep to my desktop computer. Working through it month-by-month helped me stay on track and keep it all organized.
Pictures are all split by year and then month in my computer, and at the end of the year I will decide whether I will invest in a cloud storage system or just trust a hard drive.
merging all the lists
I shared about my content migration to OneNote a little in this post but I have far too many digital sticky notes spread across multiple apps. I use the iPhone Notes app for grocery listing, OneNote for blog and shop content, TeuxDeux for daily tasks, just to name a few. Each of these worked well for individual uses but switching from app to app proved to be pretty distracting for me.
I started merging my lists first by shutting down my Evernote account. I had already moved all of my content but held on the account as a "just-in-case" which just ended up clogging up memory on all of my devices.
Next, I had to figure out a way to store all of those random little notes-to-self that were scattered across apps. At first I just copied and pasted them into one big Google Doc just to hold them all together, and then I discovered Notion. My workspace there now holds: recipes, grocery list, to-do tasks, quotes I want to save for later, articles I plan to re-read, wishlist items I want to mull over... pretty much all of the things. They are all neatly displayed, organized, and categorized. I wish I had tried the program sooner! It's web-based, so I can use it on my computer, but it also has an app which has been great to hit me with alerts and reminders for scheduled items.
how i plan to keep things in order
The final step in my digital cleanup was to try and setup a system in which I could continue to have clear and open workspaces on my devices. Here is what I will be testing out over the next few months:
- Monthly resets on my email inbox (this video had great ideas).
- Save downloads in the correct place right away once they are used.
- Downloads folder clearout at the end of every month - if needed.
- Photo audit once per week to remove duplicates and backup important pics and video.
- Keep plugging in new lists and databases into Notion when possible.
Cleaning up my spaces online and on my devices has been at the very bottom of my to-do list for far too long, but it feels great to see them now. It was much easier to navigate my photo gallery while finishing up my 2020 family photo album, and my email inbox has never been so shiny haha.