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How to Spring Clean Digitally

by Andrew Roush

It’s a time-honored tradition. Spring presents the opportunity to recharge and reorient ourselves. Warmer weather, and a break from months indoors, means it’s always been a good time to do some organizing and cleaning. Indeed, in recent years, de-cluttering our spaces and lives has become a prominent trend.

And while dusting, boxing up coats and sweaters, and getting to work in our yards or gardens are the traditional meaning of “spring cleaning,” we can apply this to our digital lives as well. For educators, spring is a great time to clean up and reorganize our digital lives. Here are some tips to help you get started.

First Principles

It can be very beneficial to start with the right mindset. Here’s are the guiding princple’s TCEA’s own Lori Gracey discovered when applying Marie Kondo’s philosophy to the digital realm:

Principle 1: Tackle things by category, not by “room.” The key to this principle is to start with those items that have less emotional meaning as they are easier to do.

Principle 2: Make sure nothing can distract you while tidying. That means no listening to music, no checking your email or social media, no family or friends or pets helping you. 

Principle 3: Don’t relive the past. Be quick. Don’t take time for memories at this stage of the process.

Principle 4: Delight in the purge! I felt lighter as I saw the mass of my files becoming less and less. Cleaning up my digital life really did bring me joy!

Principle 5: Decide on an organization system that works for you. Consider how you think and then create a system so that you can easily find exactly the file or photo you are looking for.

Principle 6: Celebrate when you are done. I did that by creating a running slideshow of many of the photos that had been hidden for years so that I can now see them every day.

Lori Gracey. “Tidying Up Our Digital Lives

Springing into Action

When it come to digital tools, different apps and resources might require different modes of cleaning and decluttering. Over the years, we’ve discovered some great tips to improve your spring cleaning process.

Digging into Your Inbox

Cleaning your inbox can leave you feeling like Sisyphus pushing a boulder up a mountain time and time again. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Check out these suggestions for decluttering your Gmail inbox from our Director of Professional Development, Dr. Bruce Ellis.

  • Method 1: Unsubscribe Link. This is the best way to unsubscribe, though it isn’t necessarily the fastest. 
  • Method 2: Use a Third-Party Tool to Declutter. Recently, I rediscovered Unroll.me. This free service will scan your email and pull up those that can be unsubscribed.
  • Method 3: Designate as Spam. Some emails you may receive do not have the unsubscribe link available. In this case, you may find it helpful to designate them as spam.
  • Method 4: Create Filters. In Gmail, I can create a filter that is triggered when an email arrives from someone on my “bad” list. Their sender email address and/or their subject line can trigger it, depending on how I set it up.

Cleaning Your Twitter Feed

Over time, following trends, friends, ed chats, and more can leave your feed looking overwhelmed. You may even be missing things in the fast-moving scroll of information. Here are some ideas from TCEA PD director Miguel Guhlin on how to keep your Twitter feed crisp and useful.

Beside tools that can help you unfollow accounts you’re no longer interested in, consider using Twitter’s list feature to keep things organized.

Google Beyond Gmail

Of course, Gmail is only one of many Google products. If you use other Google services, there are many useful ways to clean up your account.

To keep your Google account running smoothly and safely, it’s a good idea to do a regular audit of what apps and websites you’ve connected to over time. … But there are others that I may have signed up for originally, but no longer want, or don’t even know how I got signed up with them. For those instances, I want to take steps on a regular basis to clean out those unwanted services.

Lori Gracey. “Keeping Your Google Account Safe and Uncluttered

Deep Cleaning

Check out our list of must-have tech tools, many of which can help you organize, streamline, and otherwise make your digital life easier.

What are your ideas and suggestions for digital spring cleaning? Share your shiniest ideas in the comments!

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

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