Declutter 101: Eliminate Digital Clutter in 3 Simple Steps


If you’re like me and are always looking for ways to eliminate undue stress, I invite you to join me in our Karen Rapp Interiors’ Declutter 101 challenge.

natl clean your computer day Feb 13 2017 - karen rapp interiorsThis month, we’re focusing on eliminating digital clutter, and we have three simple strategies up our sleeves . . .

just in time for National Clean Out Your Computer Day on Feb. 13, 2017.

Are you up to the challenge?

Not sure? See if you can relate:

  • Does it take longer to find a picture on your phone than to sort through a photo album?
  • Does locating an email from your sister consume more time than calling her?
  • Are you hoarding apps on your tablet or phone for that “once in a lifetime opportunity” to use it in a pinch?


If this sounds like you, do not dismay. You’re in good company.


Digital Clutter is Everywhere

It’s no shock that as we increase our reliance on digital devices, we also increase our digital clutter.

digital clutter declutter 101 delete selected photosOur founder Karen Rapp—and somewhat of an inspiration for this blog post—readily admits to being a photo hoarder.

In fact, she’s amassed an amazing 5,985 photos on her iPhone since she bought it in 2012. (Most of which are related to our interior design projects.)

These images are just waiting to be organized and categorized. (And, truthfully, some just need to be deleted).

Photos are the perfect example of digital clutter overtaking our devices.

Take for example that, in 1990, Americans took an estimated 57 billion photos. Now flash-forward to present day—when people walk around with a camera embedded in their smartphone—and it’s no surprise that we’re taking an average of 380 billion photos a year.

Couple these statistics with the overwhelming average of 105 daily email messages sent and received by a typical corporate email user.

Seeing a trend?

I think this is a recipe for a cluttered, if not combustible, situation.


Clutter Affects our Stress Levels

So just what are the benefits of digital decluttering?

Well, studies have shown that phone and computer clutter affects our momentary stress levels. And when we have higher cortisol, it can lead to illness, depression and fatigue.

Thankfully, we can control the source of the stress and limit its impact.


Digital Declutter 101 – Clean Up Your Tech in 3 Simple Steps

Challenge yourself to do the following thee simple tasks daily, monthly and quarterly to reduce technology clutter and, ultimately, reduce stress.


At the end of each day (or as you sip your morning coffee), spend about 5 to 10 minutes reviewing any recent photos, emails or downloads on your phone.

Determine what you no longer need for future use, and delete away. Then organize the leftover files into folders and/or send them to the cloud for backup.

Don’t just review personal photos, emails and docs. If you’re in a creative industry like us, you’re taking photos throughout the day to document projects.

Look through each one and see what you can subsequently delete.


how to delete apps iphone digital declutter 101Dump unused apps – If you’ve not used that your niece told you that you just HAD TO HAVE, it’s time to say goodbye.

Uninstall it from your app settings and be done with it. You can always reinstall it when you need it.

Declutter your desktop – Do you really need an icon for every document and shortcut? At the very minimum, place “like items” in folders.

You also might want to consider making your computer desktop the same as your actual desktop.

Try adding motivational scenery or a peaceful view as wallpaper and avoid the temptation to clutter it.

schedule time to declutter digitally3.  QUARTERLY

About once a quarter, schedule a time slot on your calendar to remind yourself to delete unnecessary emails from your computer. I know what you are saying – they are all necessary.

If you are using your inbox as a file cabinet, move the emails to client folders immediately upon reading them and acting on them.

If they’re still in your inbox after a short amount of time (due to lack of action by you), this is a wake-up call. It’s time to address time management and priorities.

One suggestion is to use your social media “browsing time” to manage these emails. As crazy as it sounds, statistics note the average person is on social media a combined 50 minutes a day.

So, there you have it—three easy steps to crush your technology clutter.


Ut oh. Wait.

What if you’re like our fearless leader, Karen, and this decluttering mission feels overwhelming?

Where do you start?

woman smartphone airplane digital declutter 101In addition to following the three steps above, I highly recommend tackling your smartphone clutter when there’s nothing else to distract you.

Hint: No Internet access.

Yep. The perfect time to digitally declutter is when you’re in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, sitting on a long flight, or standing in line at Costco.

Just take it in bits and pieces.

Because, once you get all of the clutter under control, your outlook and well-being just may improve, too!

I hope you’ll join us in our Declutter 101 Challenge and schedule some time on your calendar daily, monthly and quarterly to free yourself of digital overload.

Then challenge your friends and colleagues to CRUSH technology clutter in its tracks.