1. Introduction – What is Decluttering?
Remember the days when most families had one computer and phones still had cords? File cabinets were still a thing. When you needed to find something, chances are it had its own folder in a file cabinet. Every important document was stored in that 4 drawer beige metal behemoth. And if it were “super important,” well, that made it to the bank in the safe deposit box.
Then the internet happened. And the cost of technology became much cheaper, like hard drives. Burning CDs to share and back things up replaced floppy discs. Smartphones changed handheld devices forever. Thumbdrives were easy little things to put stuff on. Then you started storing things in a cloud.
Like most everyone these days, your digital life is scattered across a laptop, smartphone, email, cloud storage, thumb drives… the list goes on. Gone is the singular home computer and metal file cabinet, and with it, your ease of knowing where all your important documents are.
And the digital clutter only gets worse and more disorganized as time goes on. The shear amount of those important documents and files seems to have quadrupled as well. Trying to remember where you saved something or where it was sent to you can be quite challenging.
As a result you start losing the ability to discern what’s important. You’re stressed not knowing where something is when you need it. You want to declutter but may be overwhelmed with where to start.
Digital clutter is a real problem and Doculife is the solution. In this article you will learn how to declutter your digital life, as well as declutter your mind, using Doculife as your central hub.
The benefits of digital decluttering are many:
Less stress – No more monkey on your back. You know everything is organized, freeing your mind to enjoy the moment and life in general
Less to organize – once you are decluttered, there is less stuff to look at and sift through. You find things easier and your laptop works faster than it ever has
More time & energy – when you don’t have to worry about decluttering or getting organized, you have the time for and can truly enjoy greater passions in life
You’re probably wondering “This all sounds great, but how do I even begin or get started?” Knowing where to start with digital decluttering can be overwhelming, but don’t stress, we’re here to guide you every step of the way.
The more places your papers are scattered, the greater the chances are something gets lost.Martha Stewart Living
2. Create a Digital Declutter Strategy
This project is all about having a framework, and a little patience. It’s a good idea to take this in chunks, and build good habits that can be sustained. In the long run you will make things easier for yourself.
At the core of the digital decluttering strategy is Doculife. Doculife is your wingman in this decluttering endeavor, giving you the tools you need to visually organize all your digital things into one central hub, just like that old 4 drawer beige filing cabinet. However unlike that old bulky file cabinet, you’ll be able to take all your important things with you, using Doculife’s mobile app. So let’s get started.
The Doculife Digital Declutter Strategy
We’ll expand on each of these in the sections outlined below, so don’t stress if you’re not sure what something means.
- Make a note and write down all your digital accounts
- Cloud Accounts like Dropbox, Google Drive
- Photo Accounts like Facebook, Google Drive, Phone
- Email Accounts
- Utility Accounts like Power, cable, gas, etc
- Other Accounts like credit cards, subscriptions, etc
- Start a Doculife account (it’s free)
- Create and implement a Tagging Strategy
- Create and implement a Binder Strategy
- Add all your things
- Maintain a decluttered life with simple and consistent habits
Start with Binders
You may be asking yourself “What is a binder?” Binders are simply better folders. You are used to seeing folders on your own computer or a cloud service like Dropbox. These folders do an OK job of holding regular things. Doculife’s binders however can do more than simply hold your things. Binders can also contain interactive, dynamic elements like maps, driving routes, reminders, checklists, website bookmarks and lots more. Binders are better!
The first step toward a digital decluttering is setting up a base binder framework. Take a look at that list of accounts you made a few minutes ago. A great way to start is to make a binder per account that you have. It’s ok, you can have unlimited binders. Make a binder for your utilities, your car, your house or apartment, bank account, and so on. Your empty binders may look something like this:
You can add more later on or take away as needed. There is no right or wrong here, just what works best for you.
How to Use Tags to Organize Your Things
Now that we have a good binder framework, the second step towards decluttering your digital life is to create a good tagging strategy.
Tags are used to organize your things and quickly find something you need without knowing its name. Pretty cool right? So what are tags exactly?
Think of tags as categories or buckets in which to organize your things. You can then apply additional tags to help further refine your things by time. Ask yourself these questions hwen creating tags for all your things:
- What is it?
- Is it a photo, bill, statement, policy etc
- When is it?
- What year was it sent or did the event take place
- Where or Applied to?
- Where was the photo taken or what does it apply to such as a car or house
With Doculife you can apply tags when importing anything. This makes it easy to add things to a binder later. Simply add its tag and any object with that tag will appear in that binder.
Check out this explainer video about tagging:
Think about the things you will be adding to your binders… how would you categorize them with tags? It will be smart to jot down your tagging ideas before you start uploading, so you have a general idea of how you’d like to tag and organize your things in Doculife.
For example if you have a bunch of documents and files about your car, create a binder with the name of your car. Plan to include loan docs, title if paid off, any maintenance records, CARFAX if applicable, insurance documents, insurance ID card, photos of your car, bookmarks to parts if applicable, tutorial maintenance videos if applicable, upgrade videos, Kelly Blue Book link, and anything else you can think of that relates to your car.
A good idea then is to tag what it’s for, or ‘car,’ what the object is, or ‘insurance,’ for example, and then finally the make of the vehicle, or ‘Ford Explorer’ for example. That last one is important in the event you have more than one car. This is an example strategy. If you have a system that will work better for you, then go ahead and use it. That’s the beauty of Doculife – it works how you work.
You may bulk-add tags after uploading if you like, or add them in the upload window at the point of uploading. It’s up to you and there is no wrong answer.
Switch to online billing for credit cards, cell service, utilities, and bank statements.Martha Stewart Living
3. How to Declutter Documents
With the amount of online services available, documents seemingly can be stored anywhere and everywhere making finding what you need when you need it a daunting task. Using Doculife to centrally organize all your documents, even paper ones, is a smart idea.
Declutter online accounts
The subscription economy has taken over our lives. Previously we only ever had subscriptions to cable TV and utilities like a house phone and electricity provider. Today there could be dozens of accounts linked to your name. If you have kids, add a multiplier to the number of accounts! Managing these accounts – and simply remembering every one of them – is a challenge.
Things have gotten so out of hand there are services that have cropped up to help manage all your online subscriptions, and cut ties with the ones you don’t need anymore. Apps like Truebill, Trim and Bobby were created to help with this very problem.
Ensure all your major bills are set to ‘paperless’ to reduce snail mail clutter. If possible, set up forwarding import email addresses to send your statements directly to Doculife. Read on to see what these are and how to set one up quickly.
Declutter your inbox
A great way to declutter your email is to use Doculife’s free import email address feature.
Every binder in Doculife has its own unique-to-you import email address. Using this address will send things directly into a binder from either an email program or scan to email. Find any binder’s import email address by clicking the blue “+” symbol within any binder. Choose the Import Email tab. Here you can create an email address for any section within a binder or simply the binder itself. Plug that email into the ‘To:” field of your email program to send things to Doculife.
Now you can forward anything from your email into Doculife to get tagged and organized. Doculife processes the attachments automatically. You should see them pop up in the binder after forwarding within a few seconds.
Forward Existing Attachments
For example, when you buy a house, there can be a lot of emails back and forth between you and your real estate agent, mortgage broker, title company and all the other little vendors in between that are required like home inspector and surveyor.
All of the back and forth as well as keeping track of documents can be overwhelming. Setting up an import email address to forward all of this into a Doculife binder where it can be organized will make your life that much easier and less stressful.
Setup A Forwarding Rule in Gmail
If you are a Gmail user, Doculife import emails support Gmail’s forwarding rules. Use this to get in front of future email that you want to categorize and keep track of in Doculife. Setting this up will help keep your inbox decluttered. Here is a great article on how to set up automatic email forwarding in Gmail.
Use the Doculife Import Address for Statements
If you have statements from financial institutions or utilities emailed directly to you every month, take a moment and instead have those statements sent directly to Doculife, into their own Binders for organization.
Simply copy the import email address for the binder in which you’d like a statement forwarded to. Log in to that service and enter the import email address for statement delivery. Now your statements will get emailed directly into your chosen Doculife binder, and keep your inbox clean and tidy.
Declutter your computer or laptop
Admit it, the desktop on your computer looks kinda like this:
It’s ok, the first step towards decluttering your digital life is admitting you have a problem. We’ve all been there. You are not alone.
Doculife makes it easy to upload from your computer, thumbdrive, external hard drive or other device where you may be storing documents and files. Create a section within any binder and drag and drop documents and files directly to it.
You may also click the large blue “+” button at the top toolbar and upload through the upload window as well. Here you can specify an exact section as well as add tags. Don’t worry if you haven’t added tags, you can after uploading by using list view and bulk add tags that way.
Upload all your disparate documents and files into their appropriate binders on Doculife. It is your choice if you want to keep them on your devices after uploading or not. If you do wish to keep them, be sure to use Doculife as your central hub to access them and add more in the future. Digital decluttering is all about developing good consistent habits and behavior.
Even though we are in the digital era, be conscious of how many photos you take because it takes time to declutter them later. When I am snap-happy with my iPhone and take 100 photos of the same latte, I regret it when I’m decluttering later.Dummies.com
4. How to Declutter Photos
How to declutter Facebook & Instagram
Did you know everything you’ve ever posted or uploaded to Facebook can be downloaded? Pretty useful right? You can even choose to only download certain things like photos and video. Here’s a great post on how to do that. You will end up with a zip file from Facebook containing everything you asked for. You have the option to download within a certain time frame or all time. As an example I downloaded every picture and video I had uploaded since joining in 2007 and my zip file was about 430mb. Pretty manageable.
Now that you have all this, you can go about deleting those things you no longer want on Facebook and clean it up. Upload the things you want to save long term into albums on Doculife. Unlike Facebook, we do not track your online behavior or share or sell your information.
How to declutter your smartphone
Smartphone storage space has increased over the years allowing you to slip when it comes to keeping its contents organized. Before you know it you can have literally thousands of photos and videos on your phone.
Looking through your camera roll, favorite the photos you want to keep and delete the rest. You don’t need to keep the 12 photos of that raspberry parfait you ate last week. Just the one you posted to Instagram. Get rid of that digital photo clutter!
Doculife makes it easy to add photos, videos, sounds and files to your account through its native smartphone app, available for both iOS and Android. Currently you can select up to 100 photos and upload to any binder you choose. Soon you will be able to sync every one of your photos and videos to automatically backup to Doculife over Wifi.
Tagging photos, making albums and inviting friends and family to view is a piece of cake. Have peace of mind that your camera roll is being taken care of and backed up regularly. Share albums of recent trips, life events or adventures with Doculife.
Use the file browser to add non-photos like PDFs, saved attachments and more, to any binder you specify. Add and tag it in Doculife for quick and easy access.
How to declutter cloud services
Cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive and others make it easy to back things up. But these services are severely lacking when it comes to organizing these things. Constantly running into data caps while being nagged to upgrade to the next pricing tier can also be frustrating.
Doculife solves this by removing data caps. With Doculife’s unlimited yearly or lifetime plans, there are no data caps or limits to hold you back, and no annoying nags to ruin your day.
Another area Doculife helps you win is with its visual organization. While services like Dropbox and Google Drive simulate your computer’s file system, Doculife focuses instead on being visual. Our brains work much faster at recognizing images rather than words. And let’s face it, that document filename with “_final_final_final.pdf” doesn’t mean so much.
The idea is to export only what you need to keep, and organize it in Doculife. After that it is up to you whether or not you want to keep the cloud account.
5. Declutter Membership Accounts
Organize travel and mileage accounts
Keeping track of membership account numbers and logins is also a snap with Doculife’s Membership utility. Simply enter each of your membership accounts like airline mile accounts, hotel and car rental accounts, and more.
Now when the agent at the desk asks for your number, you’ll have it at your fingertips with Doculife. And that makes check-ins after long flights or a day of traveling that much more pleasant.
You can also unsubscribe from membership account statements, as these rarely are worth your time. This will reduce email and help keep your inbox cleaner.
Decluttering your digital life won’t all get done in a day. Take the time to change bad habits into good ones. This article has shown how Doculife will declutter your digital life by providing you with a central place to access all your important documents and files. Doculife helps the process immensely by providing you with the tools you need to get organized.
Using Doculife coupled with the steps outlined above will help make life more stress free. This means having peace of mind and confidence that you know where everything is, whenever you need it. And that feels great, allowing you to enjoy life that much more.
Life is too short to be stressed over the little things that can be avoided. Declutter your digital life today and starting living a life, organized.