Clear Out Digital Clutter

Open your mind and make room for authentic connections

By Holli Kenley

digital clutter

Have you ever felt like your online life is full of digital clutter that has taken over your real life, or at the very least determined the quality of it?

Have you ever dreaded turning on your phone or lap top? Have you ever wondered how on earth you are going to respond to all the emails, texts, tweets, uploads, posts, or messages? Have you ever felt like your digital life has taken over your real life, or at the very least determined the quality of it? If you have answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you are not alone! Of course, we enjoy our relationships with technology and most of us need an on-line presence in order to get anything done. However, I think there are more of us than like to admit that we are drowning in our digital clutter! Not only does clutter contribute to feelings of anxiety and stress, but the time required to manage or monitor it robs us of our most healthy commodity—authentic connection.

Let’s get started by implementing three practical and effective steps as we clean out digital clutter.

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Clean out social networking accounts.

This step is really important. It requires some time depending on how many social networking accounts you have, but it only needs to be done once or twice a year.

  • First, take an inventory of your social net-working accounts. Do you need them all? Do you use them all? If not, get rid of those which have been dormant or are irrelevant to your needs.
  • Second, with each account, clean out your friends, followers, and contacts. If that feels harsh, at least shore up your settings so you are not receiving “their” clutter. A couple of weeks ago, it was time to clean out my Facebook page. As I was going through my ‘friends’, I came across a few folks who were complete strangers! Away they went.

Clean out emails, documents, folders, downloads, photos, etc.

The next step is something I do at least once a month. By staying on top of this, it really does not take very long.

  • Clean out and prioritize your emails.
  • Unsubscribe to promotions, forums, blogs, etc. which no longer interest you.
  • Clean out and condense your ‘labels’ eliminating any which are not being used. Shorten that list!
  • Get into your documents, downloads, photos, etc. and recycle any which are unnecessary or un-needed. Move remaining items into folders or reorganize them.

Clean up degree of device interaction and distraction.

This step may be a little harder – it requires behavioral changes on your part. We know from research that as we spend more and more time communicating and interacting through electronic communications and multi-tasking from one device or program to another, we are becoming less focused and less productive. In short, we are filling our minds with too much clutter—all at once!

  • Take an honest inventory of how many hours per day you are spending on your technology (all devices).
  • Contrast that to the number of hours per day you spend in face-to-face or direct communication or interaction. Is there a healthy balance?
  • When you are on your technology, work on one task, one site, one program, or one activity at a time.
  • Avoid switching or flipping back and forth or clicking one link, then moving to another, etc.

Again, we know from research that multi-tasking is not creating a more productive mind. In fact, it is conditioning the brain to become easily distracted and disoriented, thus making it more difficult to concentrate or to return our attention to the task at hand.

Many of us are extremely invested into our relationships with our technology. Cleaning out the digital clutter contributes to a more clear mind— and living more quality lives so that we make room for authentic connection.

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Connect with Self

Multi-tasking, especially in our digital lives, takes us away from being mindful. We cannot be in the present—taking in and absorbing the beauty, purpose, and meaning of the moment—and simultaneously fill our minds with clutter.

Therefore, each day for a minimum of 10 minutes, spend time connecting with yourself in ways which are important to you. Perhaps that is praying, meditating, walking, listening to or playing music, drawing or painting, exercising or stretching, etc. Whatever you choose, be still with yourself. Focus on your breathing. Focus on one thing or thought. Allow your mind to rest. It has earned it.

Connect with Others

Put down your devices and practice giving your attention to your children, family, loved ones and friends. During conversation, look them in their eyes and really listen. Be available. Be present. As you shower others your full attention, watch them bask in the rays of human connection.

Connect with Nature

Have you spent more hours staring at a digital screen instead of searching for creatures running through fields or swimming in streams? Have you felt empty after liking, posting, uploading, tweeting hundreds of short-lived irrelevant clutter instead of filling your spirit and soul with the meaningful sustainable gifts of Mother Earth?

Take a few moments. Answer honestly. Reflect. And then, consider connecting with nature. She is waiting.

Clean out digital clutter and make room for authentic connection. As your life clears, so will your purpose.

Publishers Notes: Holli Kenley is an American Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and the author of “ Daughters Betrayed By Their Mothers: Moving from Brokenness to Wholeness” and “Power Down & Parent Up!: Cyber Bullying, Screen Dependence & Raising Tech-Healthy Children”


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