Start 2018 with decluttered computer, phone

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Here are some helpful ideas to declutter your technology and free up more time to tackle the bigger things this year.

Since the early 1990s, email has been a part of our lives, yet with the large amount of emails, whether they’re spam or unwanted newsletters, email has become more of a nuisance than a pleasure and a cluttered inbox is part of the problem.

For those of you who receive a small amount of emails per day, it’s easy to go through them one by one and unsubscribe. Most eNewsletters have a link at the bottom of the email where you can click to unsubscribe. Once you unsubscribe, send the email to your junk or spam folder. If the email is from a company where you can’t unsubscribe, reply with unsubscribe or remove in the subject box then move the email to the spam folder, so that if the company emails you again, it will automatically be sent to your spam folder and not your inbox. You will also need to delete all your emails in your spam/junk folder and from your delete folder to permanently delete them.

If you get too many emails to keep up, try Unroll.me. Unroll.me analyzes all the messages in your email account and looks for subscriptions. It then presents everything it finds and gives you three options: keep in your inbox, unsubscribe or roll up. This feature doesn’t unsubscribe your email but keeps any emails from that company in a separate folder so it doesn’t clutter your inbox. You choose how often and when you want to receive the email.

Unroll.me is free and works with most email providers. I was able to delete 122 newsletter subscriptions and keep 39 newsletters within five minutes, and so can you.

Now that your subscriptions are sorted out, let’s try to clean your inbox. The problem with a cluttered inbox is we keep emails thinking one day we’re going to need an email from March 2007. If you, like most people, can’t delete them then the best way to clean out an inbox is to create folders so you can keep the emails but they’re out of your inbox and in their proper folder. Folder names can be as simple as a year or a name of a person or company. Action folders like print, reply, or need a response folders are very helpful to use when you need to take a certain action before deleting the email. A tax folder also works if you need to keep receipts for tax purposes for a specific year. In Gmail, it’s called a send and archive feature to add to the folders or labels. If this project seems too overwhelming, then start 2018 by putting any new emails you receive into their proper folders. You can tackle archived emails at a later time.

Photos are another huge obstacle that can clutter your phone and computer. There are many apps that will store your photos, but the easiest, most effective and no-cost approach to saving your photos is to download them onto your computer or external hard drive. Plug your phone into your computer and select all to move your photos over to the photos folder or a folder you named. Double check to make sure that all of your photos have indeed downloaded onto your computer before deleting any of them from your phone. Remember, if you use some of the photos for wallpaper or for contact photos, depending on your phone, those will have to be unchecked before deleting, otherwise you will lose them.

An external hard drive is a great place to keep all photos and documents should your computer crash. If you don’t have a computer then you will need to upload all your photos to an outside server, so your photos are protected in case you break or lose your phone. Apple uses iCloud and Google uses Backup and Sync that backs up files and photos to Google Drive and Google Photos. For others, check out this article: https://www.themuse.com/advice/9-free-photo-apps-you-need-to-download

Printing photos is another way to preserve your photos and allow you the option to delete them from your phone. There are dozens of websites and apps you can use to print photos. You’ll find some of the best here:

https://www.pcmag.com/roundup/353850/the-best-photo-printing-services

Decluttering Tips

  • Sort all photos and documents into their proper folders so they will be easy to find when you need them.
  • Delete apps on your phone or tablet that you don’t use. If you purchased them, don’t worry, they’ll still be available to download again without a fee when using the same username.
  • Make sure to clear your browsing history. This will also clear any cookies and cached images to free up space and get rid of any unwanted items on your computer.

To clean up your computer further, type Disk Cleanup in the search box and a box should appear with boxes already checked to delete temporary files, recycle bin, thumbnails, etc. Be careful not to delete anything you may need for later.

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Kerry Keith