When you think of clutter, you probably imagine a messy desk with papers all over. Of course, many of us don’t really deal with physically paper nowadays, so physical clutter has become less of an issue. As our papers have gone digital, however, so has our clutter.
If you’re like most people, digital clutter could be all over your life. By digital clutter, I mean anything that could unnecessarily distract you or stress you out throughout the day, whether it’s on your phone or on your computer. If you have a bunch of unread emails on your phone or an unruly desktop, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Unattended notifications can stress you out by making it feel impossible to deal with everything you have going on. Even if all the notifications clogging your phone are easily dismissible, they can be overwhelming as long as they’re around. Try to keep your notifications at zero, so that you feel less trapped by your phone. If you have tons of unread emails and feel stressed out by them, dedicate some time every day to checking some less-important ones off and marking them as read. Even if it seems insurmountable, you’ll get there eventually.
Your computer is probably full of digital clutter too, even if your hard drive has plenty of free space. Whether it’s in the form of too many desktop icons or whether it’s in the form of too many favorites on your browser bar, distraction lurks around every corner. This is clear to you if you’ve ever aimlessly clicked around bookmarked websites without even realizing it.
Luckily, if you think about it, you’ll notice that you can get rid of a lot of these favorites and desktop shortcuts without really missing anything. For example, I dropped Facebook from my favorites bar, since I can just type it into the address bar if I actually feel the need to check it. Since I dropped Facebook from my favorites, I’ve spent a lot less time mindlessly scrolling through my timeline.
This is the main idea behind clearing digital clutter. If you have fewer distractions on your screen, you might find it easier to stay focused. It also seems less stressful to work on something without digital reminders of all the other stuff you could be doing on the screen.
Now, when it comes to physically messy desks, some research has shown that clean desks can foster health while messy desks can foster creativity. The same thing might be true for out digital workspaces, but the research is not there yet. In the meantime, try cleaning up some of your digital clutter to see how it works for you, and then come back and let us know how it goes!
No matter how determined you are to get work done, digital clutter can sometimes make it seem impossible. If you’re finding it hard to focus while working on your computer, think about the digital clutter in your life and what you can do to reduce it. After all, it could be a lot easier to stay productive when the only thing on your screen is what you’re currently working on.