How to Declutter Your Digital World

October 2020
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Many of us who have been working remotely for the past six months are also receiving an influx of digital communications. There are countless emails, text messages, Zoom meetings, conference calls, social media alerts and Slack channel messages.

How can we possibly stay abreast of all these constant notifications? It may be time to step away from your devices and do a little digital decluttering, writes Sara Aridi in The New York Times

Going beyond the office, much of our social life, family gatherings and children’s schools have moved into a virtual setting, blurring the lines of work-life balance. As most people react to these communications instantly, disrupting what they are currently doing, Aridi suggests setting “a fixed digital schedule that clearly dictates when you are working, when you are attending to your family and when you are unwinding.” 

Focus on one aspect of your life at one time. Set aside time to review headlines in the morning, not constantly throughout the day. Do the same with text messages and email, creating blocks dedicated to each. Talk with colleagues, teachers and friends about your availability. Setting expectations will help “reduce the volume of messages you receive and make clear to people that your schedule may not align with theirs,” according to the article.

Also share how you would like for people to contact you. Tell your boss if you prefer audio calls rather than Zoom if you have children or pets who may enter the room. And note that some requests are urgent and others are not. You don’t have to stop what you’re doing to answer every message right away. 

Unsubscribing to mailing lists is an easy way to start cleaning your inbox. Utilize features to prioritize emails so that you don’t get caught up in the mundane. Spend some time setting up labels and filters to simplify your email.

Remember that you are in control of how you use your smartphone. Remove apps and social media accounts that don’t add value to your life, and turn off work notifications when you sign off for the evening. Be cognizant of your screen time each day and create a schedule that works for you, Aridi says. Here are a few steps to clean up your personal and professional clutter and organize your digital life.

1. Create separation.

2. Set expectations.

3. Assume control of your inbox.

4. Remember, you’re in charge.

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