tidying tech: digital spring cleaning

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Spring is here, finally. In addition to cleaning the house, purging the closet, and other seasonal cleaning, it’s also a good time to do a cleanout of your digital life. It’s easy to let things pile up in your email, on your phone, or in your download folder, which slows down devices and can even affect things like data safety and security. This type of tidying is probably my least favorite thing because I’m notoriously awful at emptying my inbox. While taking breaks from the physical aspects of spring cleaning the apartment, here’s a list of spring cleaning tasks for your digital life as well!

  • Clear tabs in your browser: That’s a live look at what my browsers look like at any given moment, and to be honest, this is a look even after I’d closed out of many. If you’re a culprit of this too, take a second to close anything you opened to read later – I like to use Pocket to save those links – and close out anything past or completed. Take a minute to go through your browser extensions as well. If there are any you aren’t using actively, removing them can speed up your browser and even protect your data (unsupported extensions can be hacked. Keep your information safe by revoking access to unsecured apps.)
  • Clear your saved bookmarks: I can’t be the only person who has managed to import decades worth of bookmarks from computer to computer. Most of the things in my bookmark menu are not only not anything I need to use anymore, but they probably aren’t even live websites anymore. Time to clear it out and make things I actually use regularly more accessible.
  • Hit Inbox Zero: For years, inbox zero has been my white whale. I aspire to it, and I can never quite get there. I use, but even my daily Rollup is a mess (not to mention the thousand or so mailing lists I haven’t rolled up yet.) Merlin Mann first popularized the Inbox Zero practice, and his way of thinking about inbox and email is helping me archive and clear out the junk.

While you’re spring cleaning, think about doing a quarterly review as well!

  • Delete old files from the cloud: Google Drive, Dropbox, pCloud, and other cloud services are great for backing up files, but harder to keep organized. In looking for a copy of my resume to update the other day (holla promotion, not-so-holla hunting down a current resume) I was faced with some that are over ten years old. Time to clean out all the old versions, past cover letters, and archive the college assignments you don’t need anymore.
  • Update your resume and portfolio: After locating your most current resume, take a look at it to make sure your duties are accurate for your current job and make any changes to your portfolio. You never know when you’ll need to brush it off, and there’s nothing worse than needing a presentable resume and having to rush around to update it.
  • Empty your downloads folder and recycle bin: In my job, members often attach files that I have to download for review – and I never remember to clear the folder on my computer. Check through your downloads, properly save and archive those you want to keep, then recycle the rest. Like the recycling bin in your house, clear that out as well.

What steps do you take to clean your home or digital life? Is spring cleaning something you look forward to, or do you dread it every year?