Man reading book near coffee and phone

How to Digitally Declutter in the New Year

At the start of every year, I like to sink back into work by refreshing, decluttering and cleansing my working space. From cleaning out my desk to replenishing my stationary, it’s a big part of my ‘back to work’ routine that helps me feel ready, productive and prepared for the long 12 months ahead. But with so many of us working online and working from home at the moment, not only do we need to declutter our physical working spaces, but also our digital spaces too – to give us a fresh start for a fresh new year.

Declutter Your Phone

Over the course of a year, our phones can get clogged up with photographs, videos, files, downloads and apps that we rarely use, look at or watch. We have old unsharable selfies and unread messages and garbled voicemails that we’ll never need to read about, but for some reason, we hang on to them for months at a time.

It’s time to declutter your phone – starting from the top.

  • Sort your photos into three sections – delete, upload or back up. Those you want to delete can go straight into the trash, those you want to upload can be stored in the cloud for use in the near future and those you want to back up can be transferred to long time storage on a hard drive for later use.
  • Change your phone background. Such a small change can make us feel like we have a brand new phone. Swap out your old background for something new and fresh, something that makes you feel happy and peaceful for the new year ahead.
  • Get rid of your unused apps. We all have those one-time use apps on our phones – from that virtual game we played over zoom to the filter app that revealed your new hairstyle as a blonde. It’s time to let them go. Any apps you haven’t used in over 3 months, or apps you won’t need to use again in future, can be deleted and wiped from your phone.
  • Download any new productivity apps. A great way to refresh your phone for the new year is to download some apps that help you work, rest, eat and live better – whether it’s an exercise app, a new productivity timer, a sleep calendar or a water reminder.
  • Delete your unread messages. Currently, on my phone, there are over 100 unread messages in my inbox, and the only person I ever text is my boss. From delivery updates to appointment reminders, so many of these useless messages are taking up valuable storage on my phone and it always feels so good to finally wipe them out.
  • Update your apps and phone software. These days everything can be updated, whether it’s to fix a bug, add in a new feature or just to bring in a new layout, so go through your apps and your phones and bring those updates in.
  • Clear out your voicemail. Finally, take the time to actually listen to all of your missed calls and voicemails and save any that you need. Then, of course, delete the rest. Not only will your inbox thank you, but the next time you need to find out the location of your Amazon package, you won’t have to go through 20 missed buttdials from your mum first.

Declutter your computer

How many files are on your computer right now? How many photos tucked away in miscellaneous folders with names you don’t remember typing? How many work documents are trapped in Family Holiday 2018, surrounded by pictures of beaches and sunburn? How much is truly in your trashcan right this second?

It’s time to declutter.

  • Sort through your files. This can be a laborious job, so I’d recommend grabbing a good strong cup of coffee before you get stuck in. Organise, wipe and back up your downloads folder, your desktop folder, your hard drive and your online storage folders to make sure that everything you need is right where you want it to be. Label all of your files and add coloured tags to help you find them faster in a hurry, and download any important digital documents to help you keep track of everything you need.
  • Update your bookmarks. Does anyone else have Flash games still saved to their bookmark bar from when they were 14? Or recipes they wanted to remember from that Christmas three years ago? It’s time to clear them out. Delete any bookmarks you haven’t looked at it over a month, and replace them with links you actually need to sites you use regularly.
  • Go through your emails and delete any old, useless or spam mail. Start the new year with a clean inbox, and tackle those unread messages you’ve been ignoring for weeks.
  • Download and install any updates – yes, even the one that’s been popping up on your screen every time you log in for the past seven months. Update your browser, your apps and your computer software for a nice up-to-date start to your working life.
  • Declutter your calendar. Get rid of any recurring reminders you have that you don’t need any more, read any calendar notifications, reply to any that need responses and set up your new dates and deadlines for the next few months.

Start your digital admin

I always find at the start of every new year, I’m struck by just how much digital admin there is to complete in January. From sending off my tax return to booking the Christmas tree removal, I’m constantly overwhelmed by my long, New Year’s to-do list.

So to make your life easier, it’s time to start your digital admin today.

  • Order any accessories and essential add-ons to be able to use your new Christmas presents
  • Set up any new savings accounts, or add to any pension accounts with any Christmas money
  • Send any thank you messages and reply to any missed Happy New Year’s messages
  • Order the disposal services of your Christmas tree
  • Download any new schedules, opening times and collection times for household services, such as bins, prescriptions, GP’s and dentists.
  • List online, or order the donation of, any items and clothing you received a replacement for over the holidays
  • And finally, turn off your ‘out of office’

This time can be equally difficult and inspiring for many of us working right now, and particularly for those of us working from home, creating a refreshing, peaceful and decluttered workspace is essential for our productivity.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this digital declutter with me this year, and that both you and your workspace feel all the better for it!

Have a great 2021.

Nikki McCaig

Nikki McCaig

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