Digital Declutter: 7 Satisfying Ways to Tidy Your Digital Workspace

If you’re a freelancer, you probably manage an endless stream of files and emails from various clients. So it’s important to make time to carry out a regular “digital declutter” so that you can work more efficiently and easily find the information you need. And, just like cleaning out your desk drawers, it can be a very satisfying task to complete!

Keep reading for some tips on how to clean up your digital workspace and stay organised.

1. Tidy Up Your Email Inbox

If you check your email inbox, you’ll probably find that you have hundreds – maybe even thousands! – of unread emails. However, it’s important as a freelancer to keep a tidy inbox so that no emails from potential clients get lost.

To tidy up your inbox, go through your spam folder and unsubscribe from any newsletters you don’t read and delete emails that are more than a few months old. Since manually deleting emails can take a long time, see if your email provider offers an auto-archive service. And get in the habit of deleting unnecessary emails at the end of the day instead of letting them sit in your inbox.

2. Clear Your Desktop Background

It can be easy to forget about your desktop background since it’s probably not something you look at very often. Every few months, review your background and remove outdated or unused files and old screenshots. 

If you find anything you do need, create named desktop folders/subfolders to prevent files from piling up and cluttering the area. Organising the icons and folders helps minimize distractions and encourages you to find the right spots for files as they come in instead of using your background as a catch-all storage area.

3. Delete Apps You No Longer Use

Everyone has some outdated apps installed on their computer that they are no longer using. These waste space on your drive and make it difficult to find the apps you really need. In addition, if you’re not regularly updating your apps, they can become security threats that slow down your system.

Every so often, it’s a good idea to make a list of your apps and review how much space each one is taking up. Uninstall what you no longer need – and be sure to regularly update the apps you keep.

4. Remove Old Documents

Most freelancers (especially freelance proofreaders and editors) use word processing software, such as Microsoft Word. Every so often, delete old downloads and documents – or save them to the cloud if you want to use them for a future portfolio. You can also create folders for each of your clients and projects to keep documents organised and readily accessible.

5. Clean Your Browser

Your browser automatically stores cookies (text files with small pieces of data) when you visit websites. Cookies save browsing information, enabling things like automatic logins and autocompletes on various websites. The browser also stores the cached (snapshot) version of websites you visit, which makes load times faster.

Every few months, it’s a good idea to clear the cache and cookies from your browser. This helps your computer run more smoothly and prevents problems that arise from too much stored data. Most browsers allow you to easily clear this data – check the settings tab in your specific browser for more information. 

6. Run a Virus Scan

Another way to digitally declutter is to run a virus scan on your computer. You may not be aware of malware (a type of program that’s designed to disrupt or damage a computer) in your system, so it’s beneficial to periodically run scans to remove these as well as other security threats, such as adware and spyware, which can collect and store important data without your knowledge.

Antivirus software is often included for free when you purchase a computer, so if that’s the case, be sure it’s switched on to scan all new files. If not, it can be purchased from a variety of companies – research which one works best for your operating system.

7. Update Your Operating System

It can sometimes be tedious, but it’s important to periodically update your operating system. Manufacturers often release these updates to fix bugs and security issues so that your system runs better and is easier to navigate.

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