How to Declutter Your Digital Life: 10 Steps to Take Back Your Time and Sanity

This story was originally published in Art Hive Magazine issue #30,

Check out our Hello Creatives! podcast for more on this topic. Episode “Declutter Your Digital Life: Take Back Your Time and Sanity.”

Technology was supposed to make life easier and less stressful, but in many cases, it has done just the opposite. If you have ever had a panic attack after forgetting your smartphone or wasted several hours scrolling through your Facebook feed, you are already familiar with the dark side of technology.

So how do you break the addiction and cut the virtual cord? What can you do to reclaim your life and restore your sanity? You do not have to quit Facebook or go back to a flip phone, but a few simple steps can reduce the distraction and let you get more out of life.

Whether you call it digital detox, digital minimalism or common sense, there is value in decluttering your online life. If you are no longer checking your phone 50 times a day, you will have more time for other things, like reading, socializing with real-world friends or taking a stroll around the neighborhood.

Here are 10 ways to incorporate digital minimalism into your online life.

1| Clear off the desktop: Having lots of icons on your desktop or smartphone may be convenient, but it is also distracting. Try clearing off the desktop and adding essential apps back one by one. You may be surprised at how easy it is to live without those indispensable apps.

2| Uninstall some programs: There are probably programs you rarely use, so go ahead and remove them. It will leave your smartphone or computer cleaner—and speed up its performance.

3| Set a schedule: Instead of checking your smartphone when you are bored or endlessly scrolling through your social media feed, set a schedule for doing so. You can start with twice an hour, cut it back to once an hour and so on.

4| Choose generic wallpaper: Using a special photo as your wallpaper could encourage you to check your phone more often, so choose a more generic background. You can always print out that family photo and put it on your desk.

5| Switch to full-screen mode: Working in full-screen mode is a great way to block out distractions. If you cannot see those updates, they cannot distract you.

6| Hide your docked items: The taskbar or dock is convenient, but it can also be distracting. Try hiding those docked items so you can focus on the task at hand.

7| Let your close friends and family know you are on a digital diet: Unexpected things happen, and you want to be reachable in an emergency. Let your family members know you are not checking your messages as regularly, and ask them to call with things that require immediate attention.

8| Close down at the end of the day: Instead of leaving all those windows open, close them down at the end of each day. Use bookmarks and favorites to keep track of your work, but take the desktop back to square one.

9| Turn off notifications: Nothing is more distracting than an endless stream of notifications, so turn them off for all but the most essential apps.

10| Give yourself a real world reward:

Decluttering your digital life is hard work, so give yourself a treat. Take a walk, chat with a friend, run a bubble bath

–just do whatever makes you happy.

Minimalism is big right now.

Millions of people are going through their closets and getting rid of anything that does not bring them joy.

This sudden need to declutter and downsize is certainly understandable, but cleaning out your junk drawer may not be enough.

If you really want to simplify your life, start with the addictive device in your pocket. Digital minimalism can be just as valuable, if not more so,

than the physical kind, and the rewards you gain will make the hard work worthwhile.


Check out our Hello Creatives! podcast for more on this topic. Episode “Declutter Your Digital Life: Take Back Your Time and Sanity.”