5 Digital Declutter Steps for a Simpler Life

Photo: greencracker, Flickr

From time to time, I do a digital life declutter. It’s a brilliant idea, and I highly recommend it! It’s got so many benefits, the foremost being a less clogged up, more purposeful approach towards email, mobile phone use and social networking. This week, I have made the following “life decluttering” moves. I started each with a reason, then thought of the benefits I would reap after I had decluttered that part of my digital life (motivation). I also explain how I decluttered things.


Here’s how it all went down:

1. Cleaned up my old laptop and migrated to a new one.


Reason: I finally bought a new Macbook and have bid goodbye to my old laptop of three years.


Motivation: I’m finally back on a Mac–yeah! For the past seven years, I’ve been a PC user; I hadn’t used a Mac since ending my stint as an editorial assistant at a publishing house. Naturally, my new baby inspires me: It’s virtually empty and full of potential, and I wanted to keep it as organized as my former laptop was.


The declutter process:

  • I went through all my files and backups from the last three years, which were all in the hard disk of my former laptop. Mostly documents and Word files, as my work relies heavily on word processing.
  • I discarded the files I knew would no longer be relevant.
  • I archived those I wanted to keep (and categorized them according to year: 2009, 2010, 2011, with folders marked “work” “personal” “blogging” “pictures,” etc within these)


Pay-off: I can start organizing systems on my new Mac more efficiently because I began on a new slate.



2. Cleaned up my phone book on my mobile phone.


Reason: I felt like I just had too many contacts cluttering up the phone book, some of whom I hadn’t seen or been in touch with in years.


Motivation: By cleaning up my phone book, I could simplify and organize my Contacts list and categorize each contact according to relevance. I’d also have more room in my phone memory and SIM.


The declutter process:

  • I started deleting contacts whom I had maybe called or texted once or twice.
  • I deleted random saved numbers (You know those numbers you save every now and then, like a massage service phone number from a sign on the street or something?) They can take up room, and you forget they’re even on your phone! Well, I had several of those; DELETE!
  • I went through each contact (there were around 600!) and deleted those that I knew I’d never need again, like those random numbers from service providers.
  • I also deleted some people whom I no longer had reason to contact.
  • I categorized contacts into “Business” or “Friends” and “Family,” and so on


Pay off: A less cluttered, more streamlined phone book that is easier to organize.



3. Unsubscribed to e-groups and newsletters. 

I keep my e-group subscriptions in a separate email address, not my main Gmail account. When I last checked that email address, I found that I had over 300 unread email notifications from the e-groups I had subscribed to. It needed a declutter badly!

Reason: I was receiving too much e-group email and had no time to check each and every one anyway.

Motivation: I wanted to only manage subscriptions to services and sites that would benefit my work and blogging ventures.

The declutter process:

  • Since I wanted to clean up this email address to receive new subscriptions to newsletters and notifications from sites and blogs that currently interest me, I unsubscribed to each e-group save one or two which I was still interested in.
  • I created new filters for the incoming e-group or newsletter subscriptions, according to niche (e.g. “freelance writing,” another for “mom blogs,” and another for “business writing,” and so forth)
  • I set the newsletter deliveries to weekly options, so that I’ll only need to check this address once or twice a week, during a time I allot for subscription or e-group reading.


Pay off: I spend less time filtering through my emails, therefore I have more time to do my other tasks.


4. Unsubscribed to all deal sites. 


Reasons for decluttering: So this has got to be my favorite declutter of all! Deal sites are great, but many times they are time-wasters and they encourage impulsive spending. I know of friends who’ve bought deals only to forget about using them! I’ve bought several in the past few months, and while I liked what I bought (like some awesome spa deals), a little voice inside of me was tired of the whole deal-buying trend. I’d been meaning to do this about a month ago, after I used up the last deal I bought on some. It was only yesterday I got around to unsubscribing from every single deal site I’d subscribed to!


Motivation: I wanted to save my money—even my “fun” money—for things that really mattered, not just spend it on apparently “good” deals.


The declutter process:

  • I unsubscribed to about seven or eight in all. Took me around 15 minutes in total to complete all of unsubscribe processes.
  • I even removed the filters from my inbox (where the deal site email notifications all go), just so I wouldn’t be reminded about them any more.
  • I also cleaned up my Facebook feed and Twitter feed so that I wouldn’t receive alerts anymore.


Pay off: Other than having less stuff to check on my email, I have no temptations to buy impulsively. Plus, I can benefit from being less materialistic!


5. Unfollowed certain people on Twitter.


Reason: I wanted my Twitter feed to serve me better, particularly as a mom blogger and online writer. I also wanted more positive vibes from my feed—I felt like a lot of negativity stemmed from certain Twitter personalities I had been following.


Motivation: Better productivity; more time to build relationships with Twitter moms and bloggers


The declutter process:

  • I unfollowed a number of accounts that ranted too much, also those that were just focused on celeb gossip and trivia.
  • I assessed my Following list and only kept those I was truly interested in; I blocked the rest.
  • I reoptimized my profile so I’d only get followers who were interested in what I had to say or blog about, like being a mom and working from home.
  • I started using Form-U-Lists to manage my Twitter lists better (another time-saving tool!)


Pay off: More time to read updates from people I really look up to on Twitter, women and influential moms whom I can learn from and who can help me better myself as a mom and online writer.




What do you do when you need to do a digital declutter? Do share some of the things you do to manage your productivity on your phone and on the computer!



Photo: greenhacker, Flickr


  1. says

    Thanks for stopping by, Peggy. Sounds like you’re off and rniollg. An easier career? You could try to become a professional lottery winner. That might cut down on the paperwork. Good luck with your 30-day challenge. I’m on day 8 for declutter in my office. I’m so please with the progress I’ve made so far.My problem isn’t so much cleaning (though I do procrastinate on that). My problem is having the right system in place to stay organized. There needs to be a process for handling every little scrap of paper that I put in my office. I was using the GTD (Getting Things Done by David Allen) system and that was working well, but when I gutted my office to do some work on it, my system got totally interrupted and threw me back into chaos. However, I’m getting things under control now and should be back on track soon. In fact, I might get to the point where I finish sorting and getting organized before the end of the 30 days, in which case, I’ll clean the walls and floor, blow out my computer, and other various things.Keep up the great work on your 30-day challenge. Cheers!

  2. says

    De-cluttering is quite therapeutic, at least for me. I always de-clutter my laptop, online presence, my home (and life, in general). I can work and breathe better that way. :)

    Awesome entry, Martine, as always.

    • Martine says

      Thanks, Aileen. Glad you enjoyed this post!
      Yes, decluttering is therapy for me, too. I think it’s a good practice, no? Like we should get rid of negative thoughts and resentment as fast as we should get rid of clutter in our handbags or behind our closet doors! I think that’s a new way of looking at decluttering, don’t you? :)

  3. says

    hello dainty mom. i love reading your blog. lately what I did was unfollow people in my twitter account. hehehe! ndi naman bad yun di ba?! then i did some de-cluttering also here in my pc. only my hubby has a laptop. he needs it sa work. tapos sa phone naman, i usually delete messages na non-sense but keep messages na very inspiring. :)

    • Martine says

      Hi, Teresa! Thanks for following. I do appreciate you taking the time to comment :)
      Yes, I unfollowed several Tweeps, too. I don’t think it’s “bad,” I mean, the point of Twitter anyway is to follow the people you want to follow, right? :) I just decided to unfollow some people whom I thought I had no, well, redemptive value following (hehe). That’s just me 😉

      I need to declutter regularly because I’ll get in a bad mood if I don’t. Haha. I feel stressed when I don’t know where something is or when I can’t remember what I did with something, so I just do what works for me! It helps to read helpful articles and watch videos on how to declutter :) I recommend http://www.simpleorganizedliving.com/ if you want lots of organizing and decluttering tips!

  4. says

    hi dainty mom!

    i am one of your new followers on twitter. before i followed you, i already visit your blog from time to time. but now that i am contemplating to be a WAHM like you, i found your blog to be very encouraging,inspiring and helpful. i am now a certified regular dainty mom blog reader!

    thanks and i hope to interact with you more here and on twitter. i hope you follow me on twitter too though i seem to qualify in your declutter reason/process list.

    • Martine says

      Hi, Nadia! Thanks so much for the kind words–I’m glad you find the blog inspiring! I’m truly grateful for your support. :):)
      Yes, let’s connect on Twitter!

  5. says

    decluttering is one of my favorite hobbies! =D

    i love how you unsubscribed to all the deal sites. i think i’ll do that too!

    i normally tackle my downloads folder at the end of every day. since i’m always downloading stuff (images, fonts, vectors, files from clients) all throughout the day, at the end of the day i sort them out and move them to appropriate folders. =)

    • Martine says

      Hi, Pat! Ooh, yes! I declutter my downloads, too! I should remind myself though to do it on a weekly basis; sometimes it gets so filled up, I waste time just deleting stuff!

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