I'm going to be really transparent with you right now.  I'm talking super vulnerable, so don't judge me - OK?

I am a digital hoarder.

As I preached cleaning up my MIFE (mind + life) as this month's #Chickspiration challenge, my current unread email numbers for two of my accounts (not counting that account I made just so I could sign up for mailing lists and get 15% off...you got me adidas) clocked in at 511 on inbox 1 and inbox 2 at a hefty 785. And my desktop, well it looked something similar to this: 

I have a problem and I'm here for help.

My coworkers would probably be quick to chime in about my actual desktop because it doesn't look much different.  Even when I work at home, there are papers, there is a laptop, and I am surrounded by so many TINGS that even my dog has grown a disdain for work time.

This is Miagi's way of saying "Stawp Mawm. It's Tyme."

While I am clearly a work in progress in every sense of the phrase, I do feel there is a significant difference between my desk space and my desk top: One is messy and needs organization. The other was a hot flaming mess.  Feel free to go ahead and *insert fire emoji* in your mind right now.

So, when I decided to make it public knowledge that I'm actively in Spring Clean mode, I thought: this is my chance to see my desktop again!  I also thought this might be a good opportunity to connect with those of you who can identify with my digi-hoard life and let you know that you aren't alone, but we gots to do better. GOTS TO.

Take a look at 3 ways I cleaned (and am still cleaning) up my digital life. 

1. Dive Into The Easy Stuff First

Two weeks ago I set aside some time to wrangle the beast and decided it would be best to tackle the easy stuff first: all the crap on my desktop. Everything mostly comprised of jpegs, screenshots, gifs and iMessages (IDK...IDK...IDK...), so I just highlighted them and deposited them safely in the virtual trash can.  For good measure, I also went in and deleted everything in the trash just to make sure it was gone FOREVA. For anything that I didn't want to toss, I created a 'Desktop Only' folder and made my drop. In roughly 5 minutes, I could once again see the purple mountains majesty on my Mac backdrop. Yay for me.

After all that clutter was done away with, I really felt motivated to ether all other e-files that had accumulated since 2010. Macalicious has been with me a long time, guys. Next, I had to tackle the files I created specifically for this here site. Which leads me to...

One of the reasons I save so much stuff: Tab City be calling me.

2. You've Got To Organize Some Time...That Time Is Now

You'd be surprised how many digi-things one can accumulate when building a website, designing logos, shooting promo shots, preparing posts, etc.  It was a wasteland in that little 'CNK' folder. A pit of actual digital despair. 

Much of the stuff I would be lost without is backed up so, I started with the most recent and decided to work backwards. Unfortunately, my inner hoarder hates the organized me so, some things weren't named (58589353485385934859.jpg...there were lots of these) and I had to actually open a number of items just to check to see what I was highlighting. 

After naming and deleting things that didn't belong (I totally had a PDF menu from a local delivery restaurant in the folder...WTF, Chan...) I sorted them into folders corresponding with the category they would be on the site. Features, Sneaker Style, Chickspiration, etc.  I also created a main folder for all site essentials like logos, custom graphics, and promo images. Whew!!! Now, the biggest beast of all: email.

3. Email: Archive is your friend.

Off top I just have to say: 

Image: Elle.com

Guess which one I am.

That said, I kept it simple again by starting with the easiest task. By making my inbox more manageable, I'd be able to get back to people quickly and help ensure that important messages didn't get lost in the shuffle. While I have some filters in place, I created some more. Now, instead of reading emails and applying a label to each sender, emails including certain phrases are automatically categorized for easy review or deletion.  

But now, it was time for the finale: Cleaning up my inbox.  I used to simply type in the name of a sender whom I received tons of emails from and delete all.  But, what if I wanted to keep some for future reference? Guys - archive is the greatest thing ever.  I hit my personal account first, and followed the directions here to archive all emails sent prior to March 2016.  I did a search by date ("before:2016/3/1" in the search bar). Once all were selected, I said a quick prayer and hit the "Archive" button. 

It wasn't nearly as hard as I thought and now, I feel like I can actually manage my inbox like an adult and not someone who just discovered email 5 minutes ago.

But, archiving isn't the end all solution.  While it removes the "Inbox" label from the messages you marked, it does not read or delete them for you.  For that, I need to actually sift through it all and delete.  So, while I reduced my inbox, I suppose I'm still digitally hoarding, just in a way that isn't visible. Gotta start somewhere, right!?!

I felt a million times better. I was filled with renewed motivation to keep up with emails and discard potential desktop clutter at the end of each work session.  Maybe before June I'll even go ahead and archive everything and actually reach zero — it doesn't feel like an impossible feat anymore.

It seems I'm on a roll. Who knows, maybe next month I'll actually clean my desk.

This month, we're tossing out anything that is contributing to a clutter in our lives - an instant refresh, if you will. Join us for a major dose of the de-clutters.

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