Declutter Your Phone and Computer for a Digital Cleanse

When I make an effort to clean up my laptop and electronic devices I feel so much more settled. I always thought this is because I am a naturally organized person and it agitates me to a degree knowing things are disordered.. When my digital life feels organized my mental well-being is more calm.

Where is it?

Why declutter? It is extremely frustrating not being able to find your files, documents, particular images and online accounts when you need them. How about when you bump into a friend on the street and they want to show you a picture of something dear to them. They look and search and browse and search some more while you are patiently standing there shifting feet, tapping fingers and waiting and waiting. Right?

Digital world cluttered?

You know your digital systems are a mess because 1- you are running out of storage space and 2- you have never properly filed a thing in your life. 

If this works for you – great, if this does not work for you and you would like to simplify your digital world make a plan. Do you want your pictures organized, filed and downloaded with a copy sent to the cloud for safe keeping? Do you want to organize all the stuff you have been saving just anywhere and all the stuff you have bookmarked? How about all the articles saved in your reading list? This stuff is scattered across all your devices taking up valuable space.

If your devices are synched you likely have many copies of the same thing you may or may not get to reading one day. I’d rather have more empty space and less clutter,


This will be your roadmap. Determine why you want to declutter your digital devices and what you hope to achieve by doing so. It could be to reduce distractions, improve productivity, free up space or create a healthier relationship with technology.

Having a plan and allocating sufficient time will help you stay focused and make progress while you are sorting, deleting and organizing all your content. 

What is your intention? How do you plan to achieve this goal? Can you allot 20 minutes a day to this project or an hour? Is this a rainy day project, or do you feel like devoting an entire day to this task? I once set aside some time in the evening when I was doing something mindless like streaming videos to clean out all my thousands of images. It worked! My photos are all now filed and stored in an organized manner.

Well actually this was a while ago and I have 2 puppies so I am sure there are plenty of pictures to be sorted and filed again!

Always create a backup first!

If you have large files, such as media files, which are video, audio, still-image, or graphics file, or archives, I suggest moving them to external storage devices like external hard drives.. This will help free up space on your computers or devices while keeping important files accessible.

Before you start decluttering the most important thing to do is to create a backup of your important files, documents, and photos. This ensures that you don’t accidentally delete anything like old files you may need later.

It is always a good idea to backup important files regularly. I use a combination of external hard drives and cloud storage services to ensure my files are safely stored and easily accessible.

Declutter your desktop

Start with your laptop or computer’s desktop. Remove any unnecessary files, folders, or shortcuts that clutter your screen. Create organized folders to sort your documents and files into relevant categories.

Organize your files

Take time to go through your documents, downloads, and other folders. Delete any files you no longer need, and organize the rest into appropriate folders. Consider using a consistent naming convention to make it easier to find files in the future.

An example of this is, as a glass artist, I file all the glass lamp finials I make in one folder and label the folder glass lamp finials and all my glass cabinet knobs in another folder labeled glass cabinet knobs. At Christmas I make glass xmas tree lamp finials, I make a folder labeled glass Xmas trees.

I keep my precious dog pictures in labeled folders labeled with the puppy’s name. You need to label your files in a way that is easy for you to get used to. I came to find it is much easier to take a second to label and file my content right away than let it pile up.

Remove unwanted programs and apps

You may choose to start with your computer or laptop. Uninstall programs and apps you no longer use. Many computers and devices accumulate unnecessary software over time, which can occupy valuable storage space.

Be proactive in deleting files you no longer need or use. Review each file and ask yourself if the file or image etc. serves any purpose or if you are likely to use it in the future. If not, it’s best to let go of files and free up valuable storage space.

Now your devices

Move on to your iPad and iPhone. Review the apps you have installed on your devices, social media and otherwise, and delete any that you rarely or never use. Be ruthless and only keep the apps that serve a purpose or bring you joy.

The cloud storage services available, such as iCloud, Google Drive, or Dropbox are a great resource for keeping content backed up safely. You can upload files and documents to the cloud, often very inexpensively, freeing up local storage while still being able to access your files from anywhere with an internet connection. Of course the least expensive option is an external hard drive.

Organize App Layouts

Rearrange your app icons and organize them into logical categories. This can help you find apps more easily and reduce visual clutter on your device’s home screen.

Clear Out Digital Clutter

Clean up your digital clutter such as old emails, text messages, and notifications. Delete irrelevant emails and texts and then organize your inbox into folders. Archive or delete unnecessary messages and notifications.

Again, keep in mind you may have your settings set to sync all your content across all your mobile devices and what this means to you as far as deleting stuff. 

Review social media feeds

Evaluate your social media channels usage and consider unfollowing accounts that no longer align with your interests or values. Unsubscribe from newsletters or mailing lists that clutter your inbox.

Set healthy boundaries

If you feel you are spending too much screen time and want more offline free time a good way to start is to set limits for your tech time. You can take control of your time. Establish boundaries and the amount of time you want to reset your digital habits to maintain a healthier relationship with technology.

This could include implementing screen time features, disabling unnecessary notifications, or using productivity apps to track and manage your time spent on digital devices. It is so easy to fall down the rabbit hole. You can take a digital sabbatical any time you want.

Free up space

Delete Unnecessary and duplicate Files. This could include old documents, outdated presentations, or files no longer needed. Check your Downloads folder, temporary files, and recycle bin/trash as well.

Clear Cache and Temporary Files

Clear cache and temporary files, as these can take up a significant amount of space over time. You can use built-in tools or third-party software to clean up your cache, browser history, and temporary files.

a roll of negatives un spooled

Music and video games

If you have a collection of music or video files that occupy significant space, suggest using streaming services instead. You can subscribe to platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, Netflix, or Hulu to enjoy your favorite content without needing to store large files locally.

You will free up tons of space when you delete social media apps, and social media websites you no longer enjoy.

Compress files and folders

You may wish to compress folders or large files into ZIP or RAR formats to reduce their size. It is suggested you keep a backup of the original files and only compress files you don’t frequently need to access.

Optimize storage settings

Optimize storage settings on their devices. For example, you can enable automatic storage optimization on your smart phone, which offloads unused apps or files to the cloud while keeping placeholders for easy retrieval.

Manage email attachments

Review your email attachments and delete any unnecessary ones. All these pictures friends and family have sent are just parked in your systems taking up valuable space. If your devices are synched then it is taking up valuable space on all personal computers.

You can also download and save important attachments locally, then remove them from their email client to free up space.

Create categories

Create categories or folders to organize your files. For example, you can have separate folders for work-related documents, personal files, photos, and so on. This will make it easier to locate specific files and maintain a structured system.

Sort and categorize

Go through your files one by one, one last time, and decide which category they belong to. Drag and drop or cut and paste files into the appropriate folders. Be very selective about what you keep and avoid creating unnecessary categories that may lead to more clutter.

Use descriptive file names

Use descriptive file names that clearly indicate the content of each file. This will make it easier to search for specific documents later on and avoid confusion.

Utilize file management tools

File management tools and software are available that can assist in organizing and decluttering your files. These tools often provide features like duplicate file finders, file categorization, and advanced search options.

Create a document naming convention

By establishing a consistent document naming convention you are making file retrieval easier. This could include using a combination of relevant keywords, dates, or project names to ensure files are named consistently and logically. I use a naming convention for keywords too.


Make a conscious effort to stay disciplined when it comes to file management. Resist the temptation to save files haphazardly and instead be mindful of where and how you store your documents. This is the digital equivalent of good mental health

Regular maintenance

Make digital decluttering a regular practice. Set aside time at regular intervals to review and declutter your devices, ensuring they stay organized and free from unnecessary digital clutter.

To prevent storage issues in the future make it a habit to periodically review and clean up your files, applications, and storage to maintain an organized and clutter-free environment. This will ensure everything remains organized.

It is important to find a balance that works for you and allows for greater productivity and less frustration and wasted time searching. Implementing these suggestions will promote a healthier digital lifestyle. I am confident you will get there.

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Marj Bates is a life long ridiculously organized declutterer and artist. Less is more are words Marj lives by in everything she does except collecting dogs. “Dogs are like potato chips! Can’t have just one.” says Marj. Marj wonders if growing up with a fanatically clean Jewish mom means her decluttering and organizational skills are in her blood.

For more Declutter Buzz & Freebies check out our safe and private Decluttering community on our Facebook page. We are a safe and private space of like minded folks tackling this all encompassing clutter thing once and for all. No shame allowed! We will have a few laughs too!

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