Maybe I ought to title this “Summer Cleaning” since it’s been in the 90s for a good chunk of the past week here in Austin, but I’m assuming the beginning of May is spring time for the rest of the world. Over the past few weeks, as I’ve finished one draft of a book and started a new one, which has left me looking for different content on my computer. We all focus on cleaning our houses and cars, but have you taken the time to focus on your computer? So let’s talk about how to spring clean your digital life and why you should.

How to Spring Clean Your Digital Life

Why You Should Spring Clean Your Digital Life

Like every aspect of your life, your digital files can accumulate a lot of space on your hard drive. I know that we all tend to think hard drive space is unlimited because we can’t physically see the piles of files, pictures, movies, and more on our desk. But if you don’t clean your computer out, you’ll only be hurting it. As much as we hate to admit it, we’ve all accidentally downloaded a virus or something bad for our computers before. And a mass of files generally just slows down your computer down.

So where do I start?

That’s a great question when it comes to digital cleaning. Think about how you want to back things up, first. Do you have an external hard drive (I use this one)? Or do you use a cloud storage like Google Drive or Dropbox (I love Dropbox)? In a best case scenario, you should be using both a cloud storage system and an external hard drive to be safe. You never know what will happen. If a fire breaks out and you lose both your computer and your external, having a cloud backup could save you in the long run.

So think about where you want to back things up first, and set it up. I personally love Dropbox for its selective sync (I’m not sure if that’s an option with Google Drive). With Selective Sync, I can keep things in my Dropbox account but not on my hard drive.

Tackle the Beast First – Your Downloads Folder

When was the last time you actually cleaned out your downloads folder? Unless you’re on top of your game, it probably wasn’t recently. So set an hour of your time to tackle that downloads folder. What things do you actually need? I know I download a lot of files that are zip folders. Once you unzip them, you have two files. Do you really need both? If so, can you save one just on the cloud? Where will the file even go?

I like to separate things up by subject, as most do. Right now, I have four major subjects in my life that I organize things by:

  1. Personal
  2. Career
  3. Laura Teagan / Writing
  4. Ginger & Co. / Blog

Those are the four subjects I use in Todoist now and those are where most of my files live in Dropbox (I use Dropbox as a Documents folder). I tend to download a lot of extra things that I don’t need, so I’ll clean out my downloads folder once a month. In fact, I have that as a task in my Todoist account (under personal).

Once you have everything cleaned out of your downloads folder, take the time to do this with all your folders.

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Make Email Less of a Headsore

While you’re at it, take the time to unsubscribe from unnecessary emails. Unroll.me is a great way to quickly unsubscribe from all those sales emails you get. If “Inbox Zero” is your thing (I gave up a long time ago on that), take the time to go through any emails you don’t need anymore. If you use an RSS feeder like Feedly or Bloglovin, clean up your follow list there, too. People who haven’t posted in a long time or are no longer relevant or interesting to you can get the boot.

If you use an RSS feeder like Feedly or Bloglovin, clean up your follow list there, too. People who haven’t posted in a long time or are no longer relevant or interesting to you can get the boot.

Don’t Forget all Those Bookmarks

I know I personally love to save articles on Facebook so I can clip them into Evernote later. Whether you do this or save everything in your browser’s Bookmarks folder, take some time to clear it all out and review all those articles you saved. If you want to save them, clip them into Evernote and delete the save out of your web browser or Facebook.

All Those Photos

If you’re like me, you probably have years of photos saved somewhere in the Applesphere, whether it’s on your phone or on iCloud. Take the time to go through and delete all the blurry pictures and decide where you want the photos to live. I backup all my photos to Dropbox (I pay for Dropbox Plus, so I might as well get the most out of it). I recently created a second folder (in addition to my Camera Uploads folder) and took every photo from 2016 or before and moved it to the second folder. With selective sync, I was able to remove the folder from my computer and took off about 8 GBs of data from my computer.

We like to think we can hold onto everything in our digital lives because they don’t actually take up space. But by focusing on cleaning your digital life, you’ll go through and realize you don’t need everything you’ve saved.

How do you spring clean your digital life?