Spring cleaning isn’t just for reorganizing your closet anymore. In this digital age where tablets, laptops and phones have replaced calendars, notebooks and cameras, staying organized and productive is intended to be streamlined, but with all of these devices it can often be challenging to cut out the clutter.
Luckily for you, PALNYC has made a list of seven simple steps that you can take to organize your tech life. Tackle these steps all at once or try a new one each day this week and find yourself on your way to a clean, organized Summer!
7 Steps to a More Organized and Productive You:
1. Delete Unused Apps
Deleting apps that you don’t use often or that are just time-wasters (ahem, Candy Crush), is one simple way to kickstart your Tech Spring Cleaning. Uninstalling and reinstalling apps will delete the settings in the app and provide you with more internal storage for your device. To see how much space each app is taking up on your phone, on Android, go into Settings > Applications > Manage. On iOS, go into Settings > General > Usage and you can easily view how much storage space each app requires to run. Take a look at the apps that are eating up the most of your storage space and consider deleting, or uninstalling and reinstalling those. Then tackle the time-wasting apps or the ones that you hardly ever use. You’ll be one step closer to a happier, less cluttered you.
2. Sanitize Your Devices
We clean our countertops and wash our hands regularly, but how often do you wipe down your devices? Tablets and phones can be a breading ground for bacteria and they need to be cleaned regularly. Here are some tips (courtesy of Apple) for cleaning your electronic devices:
- Use only a soft, lint-free cloth. Avoid abrasive cloths, towels, paper towels, and similar items that might cause damage.
- Unplug any external power sources, devices, and cables.
- Keep liquids away from the product.
- Don’t get moisture into any openings.
- Don’t use aerosol sprays, solvents, or abrasives.
- Don’t spray cleaners directly onto the item.
3. Clean Out Your Inbox
Do you keep all the credit card offers, PennySavers and catalogues that come in the mail every day? If you don’t allow junk mail to clutter up your home, why allow it to clutter up your inbox? Going through your email is a great way to feel more organized and in control of your tech life. Create folders to keep important messages handy, but out of the way and delete all of the unnecessary emails.
4. Sync Your Devices and Back Up Important Information
When was the last time you backed up your phone? Your laptop? Syncing your devices and backing up your documents and photos on an external hard drive takes a few minutes and could save you a great deal of heart-ache should your computer crash or your phone get lost in the future. Backing up your information with an external hard drive also gives you more space on your devices—a lot like having a storage unit to store all of your bulky winter coats and accessories.
5. Perform System Updates
All too often when that little reminder pops up on our phone or laptop that there are new updates to install it is tempting to click that button that says “Remind Me Later”—there is always something more pressing, like watching the latest cat video that your friend sent you, and there is just no time to restart your computer. However, postponing updates can lead to major problems and potentially a loss of important information. Take a moment from your day today and to perform system updates.
6. Manage Your Passwords
In a digital era where some of our most personal information is protected by one word or term, it is important to have complex passwords that are unique to every platform that they are protecting. Creating a password that is strong and also easy to remember is the challenge. A strong password will be longer than 12 characters and incorporate capital letters, lower-case letters, symbols and numbers. A password manager such as LastPass is one way to generate new passwords and keep your them organized.
To create your own difficult to hack but easy to remember password without the help of an online generator, use this tip:
Step 1 – Think of a phrase: “And will you succeed? Yes you will indeed!”
Step 2 – Turn the phrase into an acronym, including the punctuation to make an even stronger password: AWYS?YYWI!
Step 3 – Change the cases and add numbers if possible: aWy5?yywi!
Step 4 – Personalize this password for the particular website you are using it for, i.e.: for Facebook this password will become: aWy5?yywi!FB
And there you have it—an easy to remember, strong password, customizable to each new site.
7. Rethink How You Use Technology: Slim Down with a Digital Diet
While you’re renewing your gym membership and watching what you eat this Spring to look your best come Summer, think of how you can be slimming down your tech consumption to become a happier, more present you. Daniel Sieberg in his book The Digital Diet, offers tips on how to have a healthier relationship with technology, cutting out what amounts to digital junk food and incorporating technology into our lives in a more meaningful way. If you’re looking for a way to refocus your family’s relationship with technology, a great resource is Janell Burley Hofmann’s parent focused website with tips on how to manage your child’s use of technology as well as a comprehensive manifesto on how to become a “Slow Tech” parent—a parent who works to find “a balance between technology and human interaction.”
POPSugar put together a great list of even MORE ways to spring clean your digital lifestyle. After you’ve checked them out and purged your phone of all the unnecessary apps that were taking up your storage space, consider downloading these useful apps designed to make your life just a little bit easier:
Evernote – Free
A free, straightforward note-making app that will help you stay organized and productive.
Freedom – $10.00
Increase productivity by limiting your access to technology. Freedom is a unique app that blocks your device’s access to the internet for up to 8 hours.