Online Organisation: 6 Tips to Clear Digital Clutter

2016-06-08-1465390856-3769725-OnlineOrganisationitalHuff.jpgImage supplied by Pixabay
With many of us online more hours than we would like to admit, consuming and creating information can become seriously overwhelming. Not only does it fill our brains with so much more information than ever before, but deciding what information keep becomes harder. Deciding where to actually put it all becomes overwhelming without a clear idea of where to put it. If you don't have this, then chances are you're feeling overwhelmed and your digital world is cluttered.

According to Google Trends, the rate of internet information we consume since 1897 has increase 9900% - totally mind boggling! It's no wonder that our brains become cluttered with 'stuff', and our online world does too. Let's face it - if we're consuming so much information (100,500 words per day - outside of work, or 34 gigabytes, according to www.neomam.com), we certainly haven't expanded our capacity to put that information somewhere in a way that's organised or easy to find.

I like to think of online organised as like a walk in wardrobe. Before I renovated, I had clothes everywhere! It took ages to find anything, and the task of actually putting things away was so daunting, I just ended up with piles of clothes scattered around my bedroom.

After my walk in robe renovation, I knew where everything lived, it was quick and easy to find everything, and putting things away was a breeze. I could put my hands on anything I needed, I could scan the space for ideas, and be so much more creative every day. It made life so much easier.

Digital information is exactly the same. If there is no where to put the files, webpages, bookmarks, tasks, reminders, images, photos etc, it become cluttered and overwhelming.
Finding a file can end up being the most frustrating, time consuming task, let alone peeping inside your Inbox.
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Here are my top 6 tips for clearing the online clutter, and getting your digital world organised:

1. Structure First
Take time out to decide what information is important to you, and where you are going to store the information you want to keep.
A simple breakdown could look like this:
- Important files - ordered into dated or appropriately names folders and saved in Google Drive/ Dropbox and/or your hard drive
- Photos & JPG's (i.e. Social Media images) - cull the ones you don't want, and sort them into dated folders. Save them in the cloud, and/or download them to an external hard drive
- Information from the internet (webpages, newsletters, etc) - use Evernote to set up Notes and Notebooks, so that you can keep everything in one place
- Emails - forward emails you want to keep to Evernote, store emails to follow up, and current conversations in folders.

2. Keep Storage Simple
Filing can easily get out of control when there are so many apps and online tools available for storage. I suggest that you keep it simple, and stick to the minimum tools you need.
Remember the wardrobe analogy - having everything in one place makes life easier, quicker, and saves you trying to remember where you saved or stored something.
Evernote, Dropbox/ Google Drive, emails & hard drive with back up are a simple place to start.

3. Reduce Distractions
Notifications can really impact on your focus as well as add the online noise, so turning off unnecessary notifications can cleanse some of that clutter.
You can also use a Chrome extension such as OneTab if you're prone to an excessive amount of tabs open.
The Evernote WebClipper is perfect for clipping and automatically filing web content, so that you don't need to do this!

4. Inbox Overwhelm
If your Inbox fills you with dread, then a few short bursts of deleting, filing to Evernote, and unsubscribing will work wonders to reduce the clutter. Schedule in time to do this once a week, just 15 minutes can make a big difference, and you'll soon see your Inbox become much more manageable.

5. Automate selected conversations
A bonus Inbox tip: Where appropriate, use automation tools to reduce the conversations in your inbox.
Calendar scheduling tools can reduce the time consuming backwards and forwards of availability, and are cost effective.

Project management tools such as Asana, Basecamp, and Evernote can contain all project specific online conversations within them, therefore releasing precious clear space in your Inbox. Collaborations, clients work, outsourced work, support staff and teams can work within these programs, where relevant files, conversations and tasks can all be managed, thus taking it away from your Inbox.
Even if you're a solopreneur, these tools are especially important to reduce the online clutter and information overwhelm.

6. Schedule time regularly to stay on top of your online organisation.
Fifteen to thirty minutes every week or two can help manage the overwhelm, and you will also reap the benefits of knowing exactly where everything is, every time you need it!
It's not something that needs total concentration, so doing some tidying at the end of the day, listening to music, or even watching TV can make an often onerous task more enjoyable.

Finally, once you have these systems and strategies set up, the management of clutter does become easier. Having a clear vision will also allow you to say no to the information you don't need, but may be saving 'just in case it comes in handy'!

#nomoreburnout Productivity & Online Tools Coach Aerlie Wildy is running a 5 day Online Clutter Challenge. To become an #onlineclutterbug register here.