14 Proven Strategies And Tools For Year-End Digital Decluttering
As the end of another year approaches, the digital clutter that accumulates can become overwhelming. Overflowing email inboxes, cluttered desktops and disorganized digital files can hinder productivity and create stress. But fear not, because there are efficient digital tools and strategies at your disposal to help you declutter and start the new year with a clean slate.
Below, 14 Forbes Human Resources Council members share the best practices and digital tools that can aid you in your year-end digital decluttering process. Discover how to regain control of your digital life and create an organized and efficient workspace that sets you up for success in the year ahead.
1. Organize Files Into Folders And Delete Outdated Documents
File organization isn’t a one-time occurrence. It’s essential to maintain a digital workspace that is free of distractions. And it must be monitored on a regular basis. Using email filters and archiving tools helps clear the clutter. My end-of-year process involves organizing files into folders and deleting outdated documents, ensuring a clean digital workspace. – Adithyan RK, Hyring.com
2. Utilize Folders And A Cloud Software Program
The easiest way to manage an inbox is with folders. You can create as many as you want so you can easily clean your inbox while saving important data you may need in the future. Using a cloud software program and auto-backing up also helps. For those of us on a Mac, you can increase your storage easily should you need it, and access data from years ago easily. – Cat Colella-Graham
3. Back Up Files And Use Tools To Find Duplicate Files
Before decluttering, backup all files. Use tools like “Duplicate Cleaner” or “Gemini” to find duplicate files. Regularly clear downloads and temporary files. For emails, use “Unroll.Me” or “Clean Email” to manage bulk messages. Uninstall unused software with “Revo Uninstaller” or “AppCleaner.” Review and organize digital photos and cloud storage. Lastly, check subscriptions and clean up devices. – Bala Sathyanarayanan, Greif Inc.
4. Utilize The Cloud-Based Storage Platform
One useful digital tool to declutter and purge digital files and emails is the cloud-based storage platform. My end-of-year process involves conducting a file audit, organizing files, cleaning up emails, backing up data, reviewing data retention policies, implementing automated rules and training support staff. This ensures a clean digital workspace and improved productivity all year long. – Domonique Revere, Ph.D., Adjaye Associates
5. Use ‘Inbox Zero’ In Outlook
I have used “Inbox Zero” for years with great success. My inbox serves as my to-do list, and it never contains more than 10 items. I have numerous Outlook folders I’ve created for important emails I want to save, and everything else gets deleted. Trashed items permanently are deleted after 30 days, and items in Outlook folders are deleted after five years, so there’s never any need to declutter or purge. – John Feldmann, Insperity
6. Understand Your Industry And Your Client Contract Obligations
Automate the process but before you start deleting files or emails, understand your industry and your client contract obligations on record retention to avoid deleting what you should be retaining for a set number of years. – Dinesh Sheth, Green Circle Life
7. Install A Browser Extension That Manages Downloads
Installing a browser extension that manages downloads and puts them in designated folders by file type has made it much simpler to clean them out on a regular basis. Creating folders for image files, PDFs, .zip, and other regularly downloaded files saves time when not only searching for files but also reviewing and purging them at regular intervals. – Laura Spawn, Virtual Vocations, Inc.
8. Include Decluttering In Your Daily Goal
I always love a daily goal. I say to myself, “I need to do X tasks in order to be happy with my productivity today.” Old emails are part of that list. Toward the end of the year, I include a small chunk of them in my to-do list in order to slowly declutter. – Ursula Mead, InHerSight
9. Move Your Files To A Cloud Service
10. Transfer Vital Documents To Platforms Like SharePoint
With a consistent file naming convention, platforms like SharePoint, Google Drive and Dropbox can be highly effective. The end-of-year process may involve transferring vital documents to these platforms and employing a uniform naming strategy. This combination aids in organization and simplifies future retrieval, fostering a streamlined digital workspace. – Joseph Soares, IBPROM Corp.
11. Devote Time Daily Or Weekly To Organizing Digital Files
The best approach is to file important emails and documents into the appropriate folders throughout the year. With most employees and HR professionals receiving dozens of emails daily, a once-a-year approach to organization is unrealistic. Devote time daily or weekly to organizing digital files and emails and avoid end-of-year stress. – Niki Jorgensen, Insperity
12. Be A ‘Digital Minimalist’
Use only a handful of tools and technology that advance progress on critical work. Commit to a digital audit of saved files and emails archiving what hasn’t been touched in the last three to six months and unsubscribing to senders whose messages don’t advance your life or work goals. Create custom rules that prioritize select email senders and automatically sorts out all other email. – Laci Loew, XpertHR (a division of LexisNexis Risk Solutions)
13. Keep Under 100 Items In Your Inbox
In Outlook, I immediately filed emails into different folders based on the contents. I tried to keep under 100 items in my inbox, so I could quickly go through the contents and know what I needed to work on. Once something was complete, it was immediately filed. I am hesitant to delete anything HR-related; you never know what you may need in the future. – Erin ImHof, CertiK
14. Archive Old Emails
For important emails that I may need to reference later but don’t require immediate attention, I archive them instead of keeping them in the inbox. Archiving helps keep the inbox clean while preserving essential communication. – Jessica Wallen, Marten Law