We all know what a cluttered house looks like. Too many (often unused and forgotten) things take over our valuable space. To the point that when we need space for something new that we actually want and need, we don’t know where to put it.
Well, if you think about it, this isn’t very different to what happens to our smartphones. They might be tiny and compact on the outside, but they can hide a very messy ‘digital world’.
If your house gets too messy, you can get on top of it again.
If you have too much, you can start to declutter and re-organise.
But how often do you do this for all things digital?
1. You have way too many photos
Our phones have fantastic, high-performing cameras on them, and that’s great, because we get to take lots and lots of photos on a daily basis. But all these photos then just end up sitting there, perhaps backed up on your cloud via Dropbox or Google Photos. But often they just sit in your phone gallery or SIM card in a bit of a mess.
And actually, when you look through all your images, you’ll also find all the screenshots of things you see and want to keep or get back to later. Except that a few days, weeks and months later, you haven’t got back to them at all (because you’ve forgotten about them).
Not to mention the photos that all your friends and family send you on WhatsApp. And I know you’ve found yourself casually scrolling through your phone and wondering: “Whose newborn baby is this?!”
My photos are a mess. And I hate the task of sorting them all out!
2. You have apps you never use
If I asked you to list (out of memory) the apps you have on your phone, how many would you actually be able to remember? Quite a few, I know, but I’m sure you have a lot more apps than that.
1) you don’t remember you have them;
2) you don’t use them;
3) you don’t even remember what they do or why they’re there in the first place.
All these apps are the equivalent of the clutter that takes up all the space in your wardrobe and cupboards. And when you want to download that shiny new app you’ve just heard about, there’s no space.
3. You have notes and bookmarked articles that you’ve completely forgotten about
When a colleague at work told me about Evernote a few years ago (in 2013 to be precise), I got addicted straight away.
Now if I want to make a note of something, I’ll just pop it into Evernote. If there’s an article I want to read later or keep for future reference, I’ll save it onto Evernote. And that’s all very well and good, but in the last 4 years I have accumulated a HUGE amount of notes, and if I wanted to go through them all and delete what I no longer need, it’d take me ages!
I have (UK) addresses for people who have moved out of the country. Articles I’ll never try and find again, simply because I don’t know / remember that they are there in the first place. This is just clutter.
And it may not bother me like the clutter at home, but that’s just because it’s not as visible.
4. You have files backed up in your cloud that you no longer need
The same can be said about all the files you have backed up on your cloud. Think about all your folders, Word and Excel documents. How often do you go back to these things? Would you know where to find something if you needed it? Is the copy of that letter you sent to the council 10 years ago still necessary?
Before I started backing everything up on Dropbox, all my files used to sit on my laptop desktop. When I had too much on my desktop (and could hardly see the background image), I used to create a ‘Desktop mess’ folder and put everything in there. Once in there though, all these files were as good as lost and deleted.
Except that they’re not deleted. And to add insult to injury, they’re now all ‘safely’ backed up in the cloud. For no reason whatsoever.
5. You have friends on social media that you never talk to
And last but not least, the people. The people on your social media. Your Facebook friends. Some are your close friends and family, and all is good. But you’ve got the odd ex work colleague in there, the school mum you really have nothing in common with, the friends from primary school that you were happy to reconnect with but never once spoke to in adult life… And the list goes on.
Your newsfeed is cluttered with updates from people you hardly know. People you don’t talk to and you hardly have anything in common with anymore. You get sucked in into people’s lives without even knowing it – one minute you’re scrolling mindlessly through your phone (to avoid folding laundry of course), and the next minute you find yourself going through your friend’s friend’s cousin’s holiday photos.
How often do you go through your friends list? How often do you unfriend or unfollow people? Do you ever? Would you ever?
The tricky thing with our digital world, as opposed to the brick and mortar one, is that things don’t really take up physical space. Photos, files, digital bits and pieces are well hidden away – out of sight and out of mind.
But they are there. Creating clutter. Using up valuable space. Slowing your phone down. Wasting your time.
Does this call for more decluttering?
What about you? Do you regularly go through your phone and organise things in a meaningful way? Do you know what’s on it or is a lot of what you have saved and stored redundant and forgotten?