How to declutter your digital life

Tuesday 06/20/2023

Being a student often involves downloading a lot of files and software to get through your classes. Over time, this can build up until your desktop is overflowing with documents. Take some time this summer to declutter your digital space—this will better prepare you to start the new school year with a clean slate. Here are some tips for getting started.

  1. Always have a backup plan 
    You should be backing up your data consistently throughout the school year, but if you have not gotten around to it, now is the time to make it happen. Ideally, you want one hardware and one cloud-based storage option. Back up with both of these options this summer and consider establishing an automatic back up process in the future.
  2. Clear out your downloads 
    The Downloads folder can quickly get filled with little items you have saved over the course of the semester, many of which you likely no longer need. Sort through the folder, moving important things into a more permanent home and dropping the rest in the Recycling Bin. 
  3. Spend some time with your email 
    Now is a great time to open Outlook and clear out what you don’t need. You do not want your inbox filled with thousands of emails, read or unread. Still, it can be hard to let go of some emails that we just might want to reference in the future. Make use of the folders that Outlook allows you to create and try to find a place for everything. Search folders can be particularly useful if you would like to group emails by sender. Don’t be afraid to hit Unsubscribe on any newsletters you have signed up for that you no longer want.
  4. Make use of a cloud storage system 
    Cloud storage systems are great options for managing your documents. Perhaps you use the free OneDrive subscription provided to you by FSU, which includes five terabytes of storage space. OneDrive lets you organize all sorts of files—from an Excel sheet to an mp4 video. Be sure to create a folder structure that fits your needs. For example, if you are organizing all of your university assignments, you can sort by year, then semester, then course code, and finally, assignment type. 
    It is a good idea to keep your documents in some sort of cloud-based storage, especially if you don’t regularly back up your computer to an external hard drive.
  5. Uninstall software you no longer need 
    Maybe your class schedule required a variety of computer programs to complete assignments. If you cannot see yourself using them in your personal time or in future classes, take a few moments to uninstall what you do not need and free up more space on your computer. Don’t worry—if it is software you have purchased, you can probably reinstall it later if needed without having to pay for it a second time. 
    If you would like to avoid downloading lots of software programs on your personal computer in the first place, make use of myFSUVLab, FSU’s virtual computer lab that gives you access to over 30 specialty programs from any device.

If you are feeling extra motivated, feel free to take this digital declutter into other aspects of your e-presence, like your music, your photos and your phone, too! One thing is for certain: clearing away the clutter in your life—whether it is physical or digital—will leave you with less stress and more clarity.