How to declutter your digital life

By Anna O'Donoghue

Anna O’Donoghue shares her tips on how to tidy up those files, folders and apps on your phone, PC and tablet.

If you’ve come across your friends or family members walking up to objects in their homes hugging and thanking them before placing them in a large black bin liner, don’t be alarmed.

They’ve just been ‘KonMaried’.

Netflix’s newest original, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo has people across the world clearing out under their stairs and relearning how to fold clothes, even underwear.

Marie Kondo started working as a professional tidier in Japan at age 19 when she began tidying up friends’ homes for extra cash. Although she may be small in stature, her tidying philosophy has reached dizzying heights.

Marie Kondo.

Her decluttering method, deemed the KonMari, consists of gathering together all of one’s belongings, one category at a time, and then keeping only those things that ‘spark joy’.

But the method isn’t just for the home, the tidying guru says her declutter techniques can also be employed to our digital lives.

Does your timeline spark joy?

Starting from now, every time you scroll through your various social media timelines, such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, think to yourself, ‘does this post spark joy?’

If you don’t feel that fuzzy feeling from a particular influencers content, unfollow them.

If the daily posts of an old school friend’s dog don’t make you smile continuously, defriend them.

Even if you don’t want to commit to the official defriend, now considered ‘cardinal sin’, make use the ‘mute’, ‘unfollow’ and ‘snooze’ buttons introduced by Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

By muting/unfollowing an account, posts from that person will no longer appear on your feed without them knowing.

Delete, delete, delete

Kondo’s method has two parts: discarding and organising, and discarding must be done first.


Have a quick flick through your phone and take note of the apps you use on a daily/weekly basis. Move them to your home screen. Delete the rest.

No, you don’t need that Tube App you downloaded when you were in London for a long weekend, five weeks ago or that 5-minute ab routine app you promised yourself you’d use, in 2015.


Why is it the one time we find the perfect lighting or happen to have your camera open to record a perfect moment is when the notification of death pops up with a “storage full” message?

Speaking to Esquire about her new book, Joy at Work, Kondo says she reflects on her photos each night to see which one is the best ones and she deletes the rest.

In millennial terms: Those 50 selfies taken the same outfit and location are essential to ensure you get the best one but when you’ve successful filtered and gram’d the chosen one, delete the rest.

Cords, cables and chargers

Take Kondo’s technique for clothing and place all of your cords in one pile.

You’d be surprised how much you own.

First, eliminate the mystery cords, then categorising them according to devices.

According to Marie Kondo, “this process itself strangely will allow you to see that some products have already served its purpose and you’re ready to let go”.

And no, you don’t need four mini USB leads to charge your Kindle.

Folders, folders and more folders

Now, on to the organising … Inbox.

Nothing screams digital clutter like 1,589 unread emails.

And when booking a flight goes from one confirmation email to six reminders/promotional emails, double-figure inboxes can become a reality for the most pedantic of us.

As your email address is nearly as important as your PPS number these days, the dream of starting from scratch is as stale as an Eircom handle.

Just pop on the kettle and get clicking, but first, here are some top tips:

  • First I'd say anything older than one year that's unread has no chance now of being read and is a better delete option (I did it. It's fab), whereas old emails can be surprisingly useful.
  • Mark all of your emails from previous years into one folder (if this is done today, it makes for a very happy inbox).
  • Create folders such as Personal, Work, Newsletters, Flights and Receipts. Unsubscribe from newsletters that you’ve never opened.
  • Search for common names and addresses so you can be transferred all When that’s all done, select a new background theme.

Just like a mini makeover.


You may be proud of your 1.1 college dissertation but you don’t need a PDF of it on your desktop. You also don’t need those screenshots of your ex’s FB.

Create folders, folders and more folders. Then just right click on the desktop, select ‘Sort by kind’ or ‘Sort by file type’ and drag files into a few folders manually.

The trick is to not overthink it. Naming them things like, ‘working on now’, ‘I don’t know’ and ‘important information’ will help with this.

Digital footprint

If you’re a digital hoarder, you’ve probably signed up to multiple platforms on numerous occasions and again after you forgot the password.

Therefore a lot of other unused online accounts and subscriptions are floating around the interwebs with your name on them.

This can be a huge safety hazard, especially if you have sensitive information, such as credit card info or saved passwords linked to these.

Fortunately, there are tools to help with this such as

Back up

Last, but no means least, back up your data.

As much as you’d like to declutter all of it now, at the click of a button all of your personal information could disappear into thin air or end up in the wrong hands.

Data is the most important aspect of your digital life.

Backup software can help you protect and restore it all, just in case any of the above goes horribly wrong.

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