Clutter in our technology is not that different from the clutter we maintain in our home. The more unorganized we get, the more overwhelmed we are, and the more ineffective technology becomes to us.

It doesn’t take long for our devices to be stuffed with unused apps. Photos, emails, and files are strewn, without order or a system, in various places. Once it becomes apparent we are lost, we don’t even know how to clean it all up. Here are some tips to help avoid digital chaos.

Keeping a Tidy Inbox

Many of us are guilty of maintaining thousands of emails in our Inbox. Your Inbox isn’t a storage bin. Treat it like your mailbox at home. Likewise, your Inbox should only have the new email that hasn’t been read or processed.

The best way to avoid having an overflowing Inbox is to empty it every day. Make it a habit. It’s best practice to review email and then either respond to it, delete it, or move it to the appropriate folder for future reference.

Email providers give you the option to create folders to help keep your space organized. Use this feature! You can create folders by a person’s name, a topic, or an entity.

If your Inbox is already overflowing, start the clean-up process by bulk deleting emails, especially junk, to take control of your email situation.

On a computer, you can select all or remove multiple emails all at once. This will help you get back to zero, or at least a manageable number.

If it’s crazy, search the Inbox by a sender’s name, and then delete the bunch. Devote half an hour, once a week, to the cleaning up process and stay out of overwhelm.

When it comes to email, like with snail mail, junk mail is unavoidable. Fortunately, the spam filter can catch a lot of the garbage, so you don’t have to deal with it. To get the most out of the spam filter, you must train it.

If an email in the Inbox is spam, don’t just delete it, mark it as junk. It is also good to get in the habit to check your junk/spam folder once a week to make sure relevant emails are not accidentally caught by the spam filter.

Once you have cleaned up your junk email, start unsubscribing as new unwanted emails come in. Or use a free service like Unroll.Me that helps you to unsubscribe from newsletters or organize them into one email delivered daily or weekly.

Smart Photo Management

One of the most significant benefits of having a smartphone is that you have a camera everywhere you go, so you don’t miss out on life’s little moments.

The downside is that you have photos of every moment, and if you are like me, you have multiple shots of the same thing to ensure you got the perfect one.

The technology running the phone has dramatically improved. On most phones, you can search by person, place, or categories (i.e., dogs, Manhattan, or beach) to find a photo, but that doesn’t mean you should let your photos get out of control. There are a few things you can do to stay organized.

Sift Through the Bulk

Take some time after a vacation or special event to go through the photos and delete the non-essential images. Only keep the best pictures.

Use Special Recognition Filters

Facial recognition is a technology that makes organizing photos easier. With Apple or Google Photos and multiple other apps, you can assign faces to named people. Your photos are automatically sorted into albums by names. All it takes is a little time to get it organized and set up.

Get Cloud Storage

Cloud storage has gotten very affordable and easy to use. It is best to back-up your photos to a cloud service in case something happens to your device.

Some of the more reliable options are Apple iCloud, Google Photos, and Amazon Photos. Once you choose which service you prefer, make sure it is set-up to sync with your device automatically.

Better File Organization

Organization is vital to file management and being able to retrieve things when you need them. The search function on your device or computer can be handy to find files, but you shouldn’t merely rely on that. Having a few critical systems in place will make your digital life much more functional.

  • Set up a naming method for your files that is detailed and consistent.
  • Use dates and keywords in file names.
  • Create folder structures for high-level categories such as Kids, Finances, Home, or Medical. Don’t make it overly complicated.
  • Put digital files in the appropriate folders quickly when saving.

Make it a practice every few months to clean up your device. Get rid of every app, game, and file you haven’t used in 90 days. Ask yourself: do I really need this? If not, delete it!

What is your biggest frustration with keeping files, photos, or emails organized? What is the best tip you know of for getting organized? We would love to hear from you.

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