Some tips for decluttering your online life in 2018

Life was pretty cluttered in 2017… We consumed about twenty times more information than we could process. Our social media networks were 80% strangers whom we’ll not likely ever meet. Our inboxes overflowed with thousands of emails we will never read. We chose to like and share fake news and regularly missed out on the real stuff.

“Who knows? In ten years it’s possible we might need this empty jar of Smuckers.”

If, like me, this makes you feel uncomfortable and wanting for change, then look no further. Okay, you can look further, but these quick fixes will get you back to focusing on the things that matter.

In no particular order:

  1. Create email filters and centralise your email addresses
    Check out this resource for creating filters in Gmail. You can find a guide for any mail client on Google. Also, if you’re using multiple email addresses to communicate from, try to consolidate them all into the same client.
  2. Mass-unsubscribe from publications and digests you don’t read
    If you’ve been checking the same emails as “read” each morning for the last month or so, consider unsubscribing from those senders. Do it for all the ones you don’t (and probably won’t) read anymore.
  3. Schedule do not disturb mode for all devices
    Being notified that your crush posted a pic on Instagram twenty minutes before you sleep is ridiculous. Unless that kind of thing helps you sleep… Just make sure you’re not being disturbed by any notifications at least an hour before you sleep.
  4. Sell or donate any devices you don’t really need
    Unless you’re an app or web developer, do you really need two phones, an iPad, a laptop and a desktop computer? Remember, the goal is to make your life simpler. Synchronizing devices isn’t good enough if you don’t even need them in the first place.
  5. Install Newsfeed Eradicator for Facebook extension
    This plugin is excellent if you use Facebook for business purposes but regularly fall victim to reading your feed instead and forgetting why you went there in the first place.
  6. Delete social media accounts you don’t use
    Unless you’re parking your butt on properties you can’t let fall into the wrong hands, get rid of your unnecessary accounts—they will only bloat your portfolio.
  7. Turn off all notifications from social media
    If you’re going to use social media to consume content, then block out a time for it each day for say, an hour. That way, you don’t get distracted and lose focus when you need to be doing other things. There’s nothing worse than getting into the flow of writing a proposal or blog post, and you get a notification about something you could literally just check later.
  8. Unfollow / unfriend accounts that give zero value or negative energy
    Social media will make you sad or happy. If your feed is full of content that enhances your feeling of self-worth and self-power, then you’ll be happier. I regularly clear out unnecessary or negative connections. I don’t mind whether those people get upset (and they will), because it’s never personal—it’s about what I want for my life. I value my attention and energy more than anyone else’s and you should, too.
  9. Use a system for managing personal and professional life
    Have you struggled with where to put your screenshots, ideas, to do lists and also work-related stuff across your devices? I used to be the same but I’ve now settled on three platforms (works best for me, might not for you), each of which have their strengths and weaknesses: Google Drive, Trello and Evernote. Google Drive is where I store the work-related documents, spreadsheets and files that I will refer to regularly and share with staff/clients. Trello is where I organize the things I need to do in both personal and professional life. And lastly, Evernote is where I store my thoughts, ideas, screenshots and so on that aren’t necessarily work-related.
  10. Configure your calendar to centralise all your reminders and events
    If you’re using project management tools like Trello (as mentioned in the previous tip) you can actually create a calendar from the various “boards” you create, and feed that into your Google or Apple calendars using a link.
  11. Put your working hours into your bio / email signature etc
    Just a way to let people know when to expect your availability, which might curb unwanted phone calls or messages at certain times of the day. Get serious about work/life balance otherwise the quality of your work may diminish and the quality of your family and friends’ relationships may as well.
  12. When organising meetings, use a calendar scheduler
    I use calendly. It’s very handy and speaks to your professionalism. It also eliminates unnecessary back and forth by leading the person through a simple booking funnel.
  13. Hire an assistant or use a service like Fancy Hands to free up time
    Fancy Hands doesn’t win awards for quality of work, but for items that don’t need to be perfect but are tedious and way below your pay grade, it can be a great asset to your productivity and focus.
  14. Write down all of the next day’s tasks the night before
    This will stimulate your brain to start processing tomorrow’s tasks and organizing them in advance, which should help to improve the speed at which you get started and your overall productivity.
  15. Make all your windows full-screen, so that you never have more than one visible at a time
    Tunnel-vision makes a big difference in the game of execution.
  16. Get really productive with sticky notes where possible
    Get a pack of sticky notes and for each task you want to accomplish during the day, write it on a note and put it right in front of you. This will keep you on track and from getting distracted. They would have to be physical sticky notes—not the ones you find in MacOS…
  17. Stop listening to noisy, vocal music when trying to focus
    Studies regularly show that listening to music that is non-vocal and closer to nature sounds invigorates the brain and improves creativity and focus. I like listening to binaural sounds that stimulate the brain waves responsible for focus. I also like sounds of nature and movie soundtracks.

Thanks for reading!

Got some great ideas on how to declutter your life in 2018? Get in on the discussion and share them in the comments.

I also wrote a similar post back in 2015 that I highly recommend you read, which is more detailed and more of a post about boosting productivity than focus and wellbeing.