5 Minutes to Less: Digital Clutter

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I’m ashamed to admit this, but as of last Monday, I had Facebook messages dating back to early 2009. Yes, my backlog of messages predated the invention of the iPad. I hang my head in shame.

But this is how disorganization sneaks up on us. We don’t realize things are disorganized until they are, and by that time, it seems overwhelming and we just don’t want to deal with it. When I started using Facebook messages in the early days of the Obama administration, I never realized how much I would start communicating using this method. (Or how amazing Michelle Obama would still look near the end of a second term – go, girl!) As the years passed, FB messages became a major communication tool for me, although I found that I regularly forgot to respond to messages because, unlike email, I could not put them in folders.

The same applied to text messages. About a month ago, I was complaining to my teenage babysitter about how my phone storage was almost full. She suggested that I delete some old text messages. She said, “I only keep about 3-4 texts on my phone.” What?! She showed me her phone for proof. I was converted. My text message problem was similar to my Facebook one… when I started texting, I didn’t realize how quickly it would become one of my main forms of communication. Thus, I never took the time to organize it. Since I couldn’t organize the texts into folders, they just remained on my phone in a steady stream. And like Facebook, I often forgot to text people back because I couldn’t keep track of which messages needed my action and which didn’t. Again: Head. Shame.

These three messages are ALL the messages in my FB message feed, because they are all pending conversations. (Note: Eric – please come pick up the weight bench, Grandma Gin – I’m sorry I forgot to show the kids that video you sent and I will do it ASAP, and girlfriends – I will message back to confirm our night out soon!) 

The good news is… I have seen the light! Praise be! In small increments of time here and
there, I have decreased my text and FB messages to a manageable number. I now only keep messages that are current, pending my response or the response of others. I hate overusing capital letters, but I cannot stress how this is SO MUCH EASIER than my previous system, which was basically no system, just a jumble of important and non-important messages all lumped together, which resulted in my friends and family considering me at best, distracted, and at worst, rude, when I didn’t respond to messages.

So today’s 5 Minutes or Less Organization Challenge for you is this: rid yourself of some digital clutter. I’ve outlined a few ways below. I realize that to completely do any of these tasks will require more than five minutes total, but I recommend just picking one, setting a timer for five minutes, and doing as much as you can. If you feel motivated after five, keep going. Or come back later. The point is, just get started! Don’t let the overwhelm of digital clutter keep you stuck in inaction!

  1. Text Messages: Delete any old text messages that are not part of a pending conversation, meaning you are not awaiting response or the recipient is not  awaiting a response from you. Save any images or videos sent to you via text to your phone. Copy or write down any important reference info sent to you via text (example: an address you need to keep, a link to a website you need to look at later, etc.) and put it on a separate list or file.
  2. Facebook messages: Very similar to text messages. Archive or delete messages that are not pending. Copy down important info. (Side note: When I did this, I experienced the organizer’s glee of finding important info I thought I had lost! As I waded through my backlog, I “discovered” babysitter recommendations from several friends… Date nights coming up!)
  3. Photos/Videos: Delete bad ones, plus one you have already posted on social media. Why? If the social media is storing the pic/video, you don’t have to.  The only exception to this is if you are planning to print this pic for an album or photo book, in which case, get it on your computer so you can do that! Or use one of the many, many photo book apps that will pull pics from your phone and make books for you. You can find a gadzillion of these by my high-tech method of googling something like “best apps to make photo books from phone”. (I would recommend a specific app but I’ve actually never done this! My lovely hubby is in charge of the photo book making in our family.. and I will love him forever for this!)
  4. Clean Up Your Desktop: If you’re a person who likes to keep docs on your desktop, make it neater by throwing those docs in a folder. Choose broad categories to make it easier (and have less folders – ha!). For example, I have a folder on my desktop titled “Less LLC” for anything related to my business that I like to keep handy. Inside I have my professional headshot, a folder of before/after pics, and copies of presentations I do regularly.

There you go! In five minutes you will have decreased some of the digital clutter in your life! Now, go text and Facebook message all your friends and family to tell them about how awesome this is! (And then immediately delete those messages… cuz you know better now!)

Rose Lounsbury is the Dayton, Ohio area’s up-and-coming professional organizer. After blogging about her own journey toward a minimalist lifestyle, Rose was inspired to start Less, a minimalist-minded professional organizing company. If you’d like Rose’s help with an organizing project at your home or office, please call her at 937-626-9030.



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PS: If you’re a busy working mom who wants to simplify your work-mom life, but aren’t sure where to start… join me for my FREE *live* masterclass: How to Declutter Your Family’s Home Without Exhausting Yourself or Resorting to Threats.

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