Updated: May 12
Since Marie Kondo started the tidying up revolution, there has been a renewed interest in clearing our houses of extraneous goods, and unsightly piles. Eliminating clutter and mess in our households frees up open space for ease of movement, allows us to donate to people who are in greater need, and according to a growing body of research, can lead to a dramatic positive increase in mental health. While many of us have caught on to the tidying-up trend in our homes, we may have been neglecting our digital messes, even though digital clutter can have some of the same detrimental effects on our well-being. These are just some of the ways that your well-intentioned collecting may be getting in the way of you living your best life.
Spend Less Time Searching
How many of us enjoy searching for lost keys, missing socks, or misplaced documents? Spending our limited time looking for things leads to unnecessary stress and frustration, setting off a domino effect that can ruin our whole day. This is also true for our digital photographs, files, and contacts. Duplicate files and a lack of a cohesive system for organizing your data is almost certainly causing you increased levels of stress and anxiety, not to mention wasting precious time.
Quick Tip: Are You Using Your Camera Roll's Search Features?
How many times have your tried to show a friend or family member a specific picture, but spend 10 minutes searching for it in your camera roll, and still can’t seem to find it? There is a better, faster way to find that photo: tagging! Oftentimes, your photos are auto-tagged based on big-bucket topics, so you don't have to do any manual tagging in order to narrow your search when you're trying to find a photo quickly.
For example, say you are looking for a particular flower bouquet that you received two years ago on Mother's Day, and you'd like a local florist to recreate something similar for you to gift a friend on her birthday. No one has time to scroll through two years worth of photos (probably filled with screenshots and duplicates). Instead, you should enlist the help of your camera roll's search function!
Step 1: Open Your camera roll and navigate to the 'All Photos' tab. Locate the search icon in the bottom-right of your screen.
Step 2: Type your search term, in this case, 'flowers', in the search bar to narrow your results; only photos that include flowers will populate.
Voila! You've located that beautiful bouquet you were looking for in a matter of seconds. Remember, this trick only pertains to what is auto-tagged in your camera roll, which is often big-bucket categories (think beach, dogs, football, mountains, etc.). However, it is a great way to reduce the number of photos you are scrolling through by the hundreds, and oftentimes, the thousands.
Clutter and the Wandering Mind
Another way that clutter impacts our brains is that it makes us much more likely to procrastinate and distract ourselves when the mess becomes too overwhelming. It’s extremely difficult to focus in a chaotic environment where multiple objects and projects are in competition for your attention. This can have a drastic impact on productivity and efficiency as you work through your day. Many of us have accumulated an absolute mess of downloaded and stashed-for-later files on our computer desktop, more than likely redirecting our attention and diluting our focus throughout the day. In fact, studies have shown that excessive visual clutter has a negative impact on your working memory, reducing your cognitive capacity for everything you need to get done.
If you're looking for a good place to start clearing digital clutter, consider your desktop. To help you get started, we've included our Clutter-Free Desktop Organizer Freebie, so you can begin to experience more peaceful productivity, and less digital clutter anxiety. (Plus, if you're Photoshop-Savvy, we've even included an editable Clutter-Free Desktop Organizer here, enabling you to include your own, personal background images!)
If digital clutter has become a problem for you, or you suspect you are headed in that direction, you may want to enlist the help of digital organizing professionals who can perform a thorough inventory of your digital collection, removing duplicates and unwanted files, and then implementing a lasting organizational system that will keep your digital clutter at bay.