When Marie Kondo broke records with her best-selling book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, she didn’t just introduce a new method to declutter your home. She introduced a novel way to declutter your digital life. Digitally decluttering with the KonMari method can boost your mental health and reduce anxiety—helping to achieve a happier, healthier you.
Here are four ways you can digitally declutter to help relax and release your mind:
1: Categorize, then conquer
When you first embark on your digital decluttering journey, it can be difficult to know where to start. If you’re anything like me, you probably have all of your files scattered across your desktop and cloud (meanwhile hoping you don’t one day forget the name of that oh-so-important deck you need to present). When your current organization method is none, it can be a daunting task to tackle your entire digital space.
With the KonMari method, using categories can help you tackle the organization process. In a physical space, the categories are clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous items, and in the final stage, sentimental items. For a digital declutter, some examples of categories might be emails, documents, apps, contacts, and photos.
Tackling each category one-by-one can help make the task less daunting and more enjoyable by creating tangible, actionable goals.
2. Simplify your criteria
Kondo’s KonMari method focuses on one singular question: “Does this spark joy?” If it does, you keep it. If it doesn’t, you toss it. This simple question can also be applied to your digital space. Take a look at your digital space and ask yourself one question: “Does this spark joy?”
If the answer isn’t a positive "yes", get rid of it.
Sounds easy enough in theory, right? Unfortunately, our mind has a way of tricking us into overvaluing things that we’ve already purchased (or in this case, downloaded). This phenomenon—known as the endowment effect—causes people to cling to items, files, or digital knickknacks far past their expiration date.
So next time you’re trying to decide between taking a video and deleting that workout app you’ve never used, ask yourself:
“What will spark joy?”
3. Make sure every file has it's place
The key to maintaining a tidy room is giving every item a home. The same principle applies to your digital life. However, there’s no need to create a ruthless filing system with an endless maze of subcategories. The key to the KonMari method is simplicity, and simplicity becomes all the more important in the constant barrage of notifications we encounter online.
For your email, try using just two folders to unclog your inbox: "To-Do" and "Done". In the To-Do folder, add all incoming emails that you have yet to look at. Set aside one hour per day to organize your inbox and answer emails. Once you’re finished with an email in the To-Do folder, move it to Done.
Implementing simple, but effective systems across your digital world can help reduce the noise and help you focus most on what matters to you.
4. Stay consistent
Stay consistent so you can stay tidy. At first glance, clearing up your digital space seems like a much easier feat than decluttering up your home. After all, you don’t have any furniture to move, nothing to take to the donation center, and there’s really very little physical labor needed.
However, the broad expanse of the internet and your online space can be quite daunting at first glance. My own personal laptop has everything from high school photos to unfinished resumes to drafts of old college papers. Decluttering a digital footprint that can span over 10+ years is no joke. By staying consistent with the process and clearing one category at a time, you can compartmentalize the process. Breaking it up into smaller bite-size tasks and consistently completing them can get you that much closer to the digital equivalent of a freshly-cleaned home.
The KonMari method isn’t just a method for tidying up, it describes a life philosophy. Being intentional with what occupies your space allows you to be mindful of the clutter in your mind. Bringing this mindfulness into your daily practice can reduce anxiety and improve mental well-being. By removing the chaos online, you relieve the chaos in your mind.
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