There’s one space that the majority of you never clean up, sometimes you don’t even notice that this space needs any cleaning. That space is called your digital space. How many of you keep old and unused photos, videos, and apps on your phone? Or turn your inbox into a digital junkyard?
Truth be told, your digital space needs cleaning just as much as your home does. But because of its invincibility, you rarely take notice. This may seem like a small problem, but science has proven that clutter can actually give you stress and anxiety.
If you don’t solve it immediately, this “small problem” can grow big. Stress can lower your work rate and productivity, and in the long term can prevent you from getting promoted or even get you fired.
In this article, you’ll discover how to keep your focus and improve your productivity to maintain your grade-A work performance level through the implementation of digital minimalism.
What is Digital Minimalism?
We live in a tech-centric era, where almost anything can be done using technology to the point of being addicted to it. More often than not, we’re stuck in an unhealthy relationship with our gadgets. A report suggests that on average, people spend 6 hours and 42 minutes connecting to the digital world on a daily basis.
Digital minimalism is our attempt to form a healthier relationship with the digital world. Minimalism, according to Josh Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, is a lifestyle to get rid of all unnecessary things that give no value to our lives.
In digital minimalism, we’re required to do a spring cleaning in all aspects of our digital space.
By cleaning the clutter and junk in our gadgets, we make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.
Digital Cleaning Tips
Now that you understand the importance of digital minimalism in your life and career, I’ll give you 10 digital cleaning tips to get you started on the habit.
1) Unsubscribe from newsletters you don’t need
How many emails in your inbox that you actually open and read? Most of the time, your inbox is full of newsletters and promotional emails from companies that you no longer need.
Maybe you subscribed a few years back when you actually needed it, but time changes and you no longer do. What’s worse though, sometimes you don’t even remember subscribing to that newsletter.
Start unsubscribing ruthlessly all newsletter that’s not relevant to you anymore to keep your inbox less crowded and to keep you from checking your emails excessively. A study suggests that checking your emails frequently can lead to stress and anxiety.
2) Empty your inbox
After unsubscribing, start deleting spam, newsletters and outdated messages in your inbox. Only keep the ones that you still need, like your recent emails with a business partner or potential client.
Keep your inbox clean for a couple of reasons.
First, a cleaner inbox will make it easier for you to find important emails. As a result, your work becomes faster and more efficient.
Secondly, fewer emails stored means less energy wasted. Most people don’t know that every single email in our inbox consumes energy 24/7.
A French telecommunication company, Orange, said that if every person in France deletes 50 messages, the energy-saving will be equal as turning off Eiffel tower lights for 42 years.
3) Keep your screen clean
If your job requires you to frequently use a computer or laptop, I’ve got a tip for you: simplify your desktop screen, keep it clean from any apps and software. If you want to quickly open an app, go to the Search box in the Start menu.
Store your documents in relevant folders, not on your desktop. Rename them with a complete and clear description so you can find them easier. Keep your desktop clean from any app shortcuts, to keep it tidy and organized.
A clean desk and desktop will minimize potential distractions that may lessen your focus while working, increasing your productivity as a result.
4) Uninstall unused apps
Too many apps on your device will make it run slower. Imagine if you need to call someone or open an email immediately but your phone crashes. You don’t have to risk your productivity and professionalism over some apps you never even open.
Start deleting unused apps that eat up the storage on your mobile phone, you can always re-install later when you need them again. Besides the performance issue, you have to also consider the security issue.
Research by Kaspersky found that 83 out of 100 android apps have access to users’ sensitive data and information like accounts, contacts, messages, calls, files stored, and others.
5) Clean your downloads faster
Your downloads folder is one of the busiest folders on your computer because every file that you download on the internet will be automatically stored here before you move them one by one into the designated folder.
Most of the time, we copy the files and move them to the designated folder, but forget to delete the ones in the download folder.
The next thing you know, you have 5GB of junk sitting on your computer.
So, you need to frequently check on your downloads folder if there are any zipped files, photos, videos or documents that are still left there. If the files are important, move them to the right place. If not, then delete the files.
6) Turn off notifications
Cal Newport, an author of self-improvement books, did research about performance in the workplace and school. He found that people who could fully focus on their studies or work without any distraction will thrive in competition.
But how can you concentrate if your phone is ringing every 10 minutes?
It is scientifically proven that checking your phone while working will make your brain works slower for the next 15 to 30 minutes. Imagine if you check your phone 5 times during working hours, you’ll potentially lose 2.5 hours of your productive time!
Turn off your notification during productive hours to prevent yourself from getting distracted. This way, you’ll be able to meet the target and expectations of your higher-ups.
7) Watch out for battery-draining apps
Just like vampire appliances who drain your electrical energy even when not used, mobile apps also have a fair amount of vampires lurking around the Play Store and App Store ready to drain your battery.
Kaspersky did a study on 66 most popular apps on Android. The result showed that more than 80% of those apps, 54 to be exact, run on the background even when not used. Find out which apps drain your battery the most and disable the app’s background activity or even uninstall it if you can.
8) Update your OS frequently
One of the most important ways to keep your devices running smoothly is to keep updating your software according to the latest OS version.
There are some advantages that you’ll get when updating your operating system, which are:
- Bugs fixing which makes your device runs smoother.
- Security holes patch to keep hackers and malware from infiltrating your device.
- Personal data protection. Your personal data and information like email and bank account passwords are getting safer with every software update.
- Updates on new features and improvement of existing ones.
9) Don’t get easily distracted on the job
Let’s be real, how many of you open your Facebook account in the middle of a meeting? Or watch a YouTube video during working hours?
A survey found that 68% of American workers got distracted by the internet when working.
Moreover, 39% of those people lost an hour of their productive time browsing the internet to read articles, watch videos, and book tickets for a holiday or certain event. As much as 59% of the respondents feel unhappy about the decrease in their productivity.
If you really want to be more productive, you have to cut all unproductive activities, including connecting to the digital world when it’s not the time to. Fully focus and have the determination to finish the tasks on your hand first. Then, you can have your reward later when all of your targets are achieved.
10) Less internet, more human connections
The internet is very useful if you know how to use it wisely, but don’t be addicted to it. Nowadays, people are on their mobile phones 24/7, whether on the train to work, while hanging out with friends, or during family dinner. They spend most of the time looking at their screen rather than talking to their friends and family.
As multiple studies have proven, spending too much time on the internet has many negative effects on your life and career. So, take your time off the screen, socialize more, and raise the quality of your work and life in general by implementing the digital minimalism lifestyle.
The takeaway here is you should know how to balance your digital use, so it doesn’t lower your work ethic and productivity.
You have to treat technology as a tool to achieve your goals and objectives. That way, you won’t overuse it to the point of addiction.
If you want to learn more about how to increase your productivity, check out this article about time management for maximum productivity.