How to harness your digital life


Photo courtesy of Ian Bartlett / Licensed Project

How to harness your digital life

Katherine Piccott

As a certified KonMari consultant, Katherine Picott is well versed in the art of getting rid of what is no longer serving you. But what is often overlooked, she says, is our digital world: We spend way too much time in our inboxes, on our phones and laptops, but we don’t. similar practical and emotional considerations to analyze them. “Digital clutter not only slows down your device, it can also slow you down,” she said. Here she takes us through her list of tasks to erase your digital footprint, Marie Kondo style.

Instructions for declaring your device

by Katherine Picott

With our devices at the center of the world, it’s important that we learn to use them in a way that helps us instead of harming us. The best way to achieve this is to regain control and declare our devices.

The problem with digital clutter is that it’s no different than physical clutter. However, since data and memory don’t take up physical space, it can easily be mismanaged. Mining your digital home requires you to do the work. It can range from checking out thousands of old photos and emails to deciding to keep only two of your five social media accounts.


When declaring my own apps, the first thing I do is look at the apps I don’t use and the apps that come pre-installed. It’s an easy way to dramatically reduce the number of apps taking up space on your phone and help you find the apps you use faster.

Next, let’s review apps with similar functionality. Remove any entries that you feel serve a duplicate purpose.

Please take a few minutes to review the applications you have signed up for. (On iPhone, go to settings, then tap your name. Then tap subscriptions and you’ll see it all there.) End any subscriptions you don’t need.

Photos, Videos, Downloads and Voice Notes

I am a mate in the military, and my husband’s photos and videos are of great value to me. For what they’re worth, I’ve specified a directory for them. When I notice that the folder is too full, I move the media files to an external drive. Also, I make sure I remove any duplicates or images that don’t show either of us in the best light.

You can have fun examining your image the same way you would dress: Look at an image and ask yourself if it evokes joy. As you declare, create folders for categories of images that you appreciate.

With voice notes and downloads, it’s important to check your device settings. Check that things like voice notes and podcasts don’t download automatically.

Your Email Inbox

I used to have over 100,000 read emails in my personal inbox, so I know how difficult this can be. Shocked by the number of emails I was keeping, I started by changing my mindset — I used to be content with all of my emails being “read”. Now I archive or delete almost everything in my inbox.

Reducing the number of emails requires brutal honesty. Going through your email and unsubscribing from retailers is no longer fun. After unsubscribing, use the search bar to find all emails from that particular retailer and delete them.

Declare your draft folder by deleting any duplicates or drafts of sent emails.

If you’re like me and you have 100,000 emails to process, this could take weeks. Observe how you feel when new automated emails arrive in your inbox — it’s possible you’ve accepted the annoyance. Now is the time to do something about it.

Desktops and folders

Your desktop is the face of your computer. Go through the icons, files, and apps on your desktop in turn, and determine which ones you want to keep. When you make a claim, consider both accessibility and relevance. Also look out for copies or documents with blank pages. Once organized, review the desktop trash and then let the items go by emptying the trash.

Internet browser

Take a moment to really review your internet browsers. Once there, review your bookmarks. Determine which bookmarks are necessary and discard the rest.

After you’ve declared your bookmarks, cycle through your open tabs. As you review each tab, consider what you’re doing right now. Use tabs as themes and only open tabs for things you’re working on. Close any tabs you’re not working on and add them to your to-do list to revisit later.

Social media

Social networking is a technology that will run on autopilot if you allow it. Determine how often you use each app, how it makes you feel, and whether it adds value to your life.

If you’re not sure how to start declaring your social network, start with the people and accounts you’re following. Ask yourself: Do I recognize the people I follow? Does their content still resonate with me?

If the answer to these questions is no, consider unfollowing. Not only does it help preserve your battery life, but it also customizes your feed with the people and content you want to see.

Another way to prioritize your social media feed is to vary your notifications — and the types of notifications you allow — as they can easily become digital distractions. There are many ways to customize your experience on social media; the problem is specifying the execution time.

Best pratice

  • Avoid germs. Take the time to clean and sanitize your equipment.

  • Save your battery. Close unused apps and clear your browsing history.

  • Don’t overwork your device. Schedule once a week to turn off your devices completely.

  • Increase your productivity and reduce your stress. Specify a date and time to declare and organize your devices. Once a week, once a month, every three months — the choice is yours.

  • Change your mindset. Remember your devices are tools — use them accordingly.

  • Your device is your digital home. Consider who you want to give access to.

Related content on goop

How to stop staring at your screen

Loosen your belt — and other surprising solutions to the physical and emotional stress of technology

Katherine Diaz Picott is the Founder and CEO of Tidy Milso. She is a KonMari® Consultant, certified by Marie Kondo.

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