Boston — Our digital spaces become extremely cluttered as we accumulate apps, files, accounts and subscriptions, limiting the physical storage on our devices and resulting in an endless list of programs – some of which are unnecessary and outdated.
Digital housekeeping takes more than a one-time cleaning spree. It takes ongoing maintenance through a few basic routines. Consider these suggestions as we wind down the year and organize our spaces for a strong start in 2024.
Close unused accounts
Deactivating inactive online accounts is a great place to start decluttering.
Data suggests that the average American has 150 online accounts, so it is likely you have multiple accounts you created for a specific purpose in the past but haven’t touched for a long period of time.
Additionally, consider reviewing accounts that became outdated because your basic information changed.
Tackle your email
Clear out any draft messages that you started but never finished. If you haven't sent them yet, chances are you won't send them at all.
It is also important to delete spam and junk messages. While they tend to discard themselves after 30 days, make it a habit to free up these folders for more important digital storage and use.
You may be due for a password update. This will not only reduce the number of emails coming into your inbox, but will improve your online security – especially if you, like nearly half of Americans, reuse passwords for a number of account logins.
If an old account that you no longer use is hacked, some of your personal information and possibly other accounts that use the same password may be at risk. For better security, it's recommended to regularly rotate passwords.
Go through your apps
Take a close look at all of your mobile apps and uninstall any that you no longer use.
Removing unnecessary emails will help, but you are probably not using the majority of the apps installed on your devices. If you can't remember why you downloaded an app, you should discard it.
Install latest updates
Software updates offer more than just protection against hackers and cyber criminals. They frequently provide new and improved features as well as speed improvements to improve the end-user experience.
Outdated and ineffective systems and software can have a negative impact on how you use your device for work and play, leading to frustration. To increase productivity and efficiency, make sure your systems have the newest update available.
Unsubscribe from mailing lists
The more active you are online, the more likely you are to receive random emails. In this way, you’ll lose track of what’s coming into your inbox, and the clutter can make it harder to see the important emails that require your attention.
You may have good intentions of reading newsletters you signed up for, but if you aren't reading them, it's best to unsubscribe.
Be honest with yourself and do yourself a favor by clicking the "Unsubscribe" link at the bottom of any unnecessary newsletter or marketing blast.
While these tasks may feel like one more thing to manage – especially before the year ends – it’s worth an hour of your time to simplify your digital life. As these tasks become a habit and your digital clutter is at an all-time low, you’ll notice a bit more space open up on your devices and in your brain.
Trinity Alicia (she/her/hers) is a Boston-based journalist. Follow her on X: @trinityaliciaa
Edited by NaTyshca Pickett