Digital Spring Cleaning: How to Cut Device Clutter, Improve Organization & Security

April 8, 2021

Digital Spring Cleaning

Spring is approaching quickly, and everyone is getting ready for outdoor fun.  While spending hours outside is a valuable part of a midwestern spring, many also pivot to tackling spring cleaning. The clutter that builds up over the winter months proves that reorganizing is a necessary chore.  Though our physical spaces can get pretty messy, our computers can get even worse.

If you’re like me, you have folders upon folders on your desktop, with pictures and files scattered about.  Sometimes, it’s easy to forget what your desktop even looks like behind all the miscellaneous JPEGs.  Organizing your computer is an imperative part of spring cleaning, and there are plenty of ways to tidy up and secure all your important devices.

Update Your Apps & Systems

Updating your software has got to be the first part of digital upkeep.  When our apps and devices change so quickly, some of the bugs we experience can occur from operating on older versions.  This step might not come to mind instantly for decluttering, but it has a lot of importance in running your computer smoothly.

One of the biggest reasons for updating software is for protection purposes.  Going through with these updates reduces future risk from malfunction and pesky viruses.  Check all of your devices like phones, apps, smart TVs, computers, and tablets to ensure all devices are updated with the latest fixes and operating systems.

Clean Your Desktop

Now that everything is updated, the cleaning can commence.  For many, the desktop might look like a complete nightmare.  Organizing this might be a laborious feat, but it’s not too difficult to accomplish.

Firstly, it’s time to trash everything on the desktop that’s no longer relevant.  I’m surprised often at the excessive amount of documents I have that I don’t need or want.  Just looking through and purging your saved files can make a considerable difference both digitally and mentally.

A helpful and simple solution for the remaining files is to start sorting them.  Creating folders for projects, personal writing resumes, and other categories help sort your materials in an easily accessible manner.  Color code them or arrange them however you like; just make sure they’re organized in a fashion you understand.

Organize Your Email

Email: the most necessary and anxiety-inducing medium to declutter.  If you’re not one of those diligent email-deleters, then you might need to do some inbox cleaning this spring.

The first task is to delete, delete, delete.  Superfluous spam increases the number of your unread mail to frightening heights.  Deleting old and unwanted messages can unclog your mail and restore some space. Deleting email clutter is a necessary step but won’t initially control the influx of future spam.

To ensure long-lasting organization, set your spam and junk folder to filter out needless mail.  There are many ways to do this, but with Gmail, you can go into settings and list email addresses to block.  These addresses will end up in your spam folder, eliminating the continual annoyance of marketers, bots, and chain emails.

App Subscriptions

I know those TV subscription deals were pretty tempting in quarantine.  But those 7-day free trials, if unchecked, stay around longer than expected.  Now is the perfect time to go back through your subscriptions to make sure you’re not overpaying.

Just like updating an app, managing which apps you’re still paying for is just as important.  Who hasn’t upgraded Duolingo after ditching those Spanish lessons a month later?  There might be a few subscriptions you didn’t even remember purchasing, which is why this task is necessary.  Going through each app on your phone is not only great for decluttering but for releasing pressure on your wallet as well.

When you’re deleting and unsubscribing from various websites, make sure to delete your profiles along with them.  Without removing your profiles, the apps will still retain your information.  Delete all personal info in each app you’re unsubscribing from to keep your confidential data safe.

Passwords

The ultimate protection between your information and someone else is a strong and reliable password.  Websites and apps are now updated to ask for password changes and new protocols, making remembering them difficult.  It’s time, this spring, to get all your passwords in order.

Check through your passwords to see if any lack strength.  Hefty passwords usually contain symbols and numbers in unorthodox sequences, not just a word with many letters.  Make changes to passwords that don’t meet the security criteria you want.

Another safety tip is to use two-step verification.  Often included in email log-ins, you’ll find a separate question or a text message identification for added security.  For special online accounts like banking, it’s important to create layers of protection for your valuables.  Check the privacy settings on any website to enable two-step verification for your most sensitive accounts.

Cleaning is something we might not love to do but is an undeniable part of being human.  When it comes to digital cleaning, it thankfully takes way less physical labor than usual.  Try these steps to secure and organize your online information, readying your mind for a decluttered spring and summer.