Hello friends! I know that I am on a real roll here with creating new series, so I figured I should toss one more in the mix. This new series is called “Clean Out Your ____” and is a three part series on how to declutter various aspects of your lives and minds in order to have a more organized life. I have mentioned previously that things have been borderline insane for us these last few months. We moved across the country, started new jobs, went to ACL, Washington DC and did a cross country road trip. Oh not to mention, we bought our first home and remodeled it (still a work in progress, but I promise photos are coming) and got a dog (her name is Yolonda and she is magical).
All of this chaos has left us feeling happy (because duh, these are all good things), but also superrrrr drained. We have been working non-stop to keep up with the needs from our never ending house projects in our very D.I.Y. heavy remodel (more on that later). Oh and then trying to remember to cook/clean, take vitamins, feed the animals and bathe.
With all this chaos surrounding us, the last thing we need are additional annoyances slowing us down every day (i.e. not being able to find a friend’s address or sifting through tons of digital junk mail). That is why I decided to take a day off and declutter my digital life. I will be honest with all of you, it took a fair amount of time, but man was it worth it. My days have been running so much smoother since I did my digital purge and I don’t feel bogged down by those nagging reminders anymore. It has also helped to keep A and I more in sync with deadlines, shopping lists and appointments. So how did we do it?
1. Clean out your contacts list
Oh my goodness, I cannot tell you how many people were in my contact list that I either: a) didn’t know at all, or b) had multiple numbers for. To give you an idea of how good this purge felt, I started with 234 contacts and I now have 172. I deleted anyone who I simply did not know, combined anyone who had multiple number (like from 5 yrs ago before we had iphones and everyone’s cell and home were saved separately), and removed old contacts I don’t need, like vendors from our wedding or my dermatologist back in San Francisco.
Also remember, this step isn’t just about getting rid of contacts, it is about fixing them up to. I went through all of my contacts and added in their email addresses, physical addresses (no joke I had a stack of return address stamps I just ripped off and saved in case I needed an address…very organized), multiple phone numbers, and last names. My contact list is so uniform and clean now, Martha Stewart would be proud.
2. Start a Google Calendar and share it
A and I needed to get our calendars synced up big time this month and google calendars is great for that. Supposedly you can sync your iphone’s icals, but we are technologically challenged and could not figure it out so we switched to google cal. The layout is easy to read and every appointment or event you create is shared with the other person. So, instead of needing to text each other “what are we doing wednesday?” everytime we think of making plans, we can just check the calendar.
The key thing here is that we have gotten really good about creating notifications for almost everything we do. On Sundays we have a notification to water our plants and fill up our weekly vitamin container, on Thursday’s we have a notification to take the garbage out and on every bill’s due date we have a notification to double check that our autopay went through.
3. Unsubscribe from digital junk mail
A few months back we talked about how to stop the waste of paper that is junk mail, but what about the digital junk!? I didn’t realize how much of my day was taken up with opening junk mail because I am a little OCD and I cannot handle having notifications staring at me with their red little eyes. I. Hate. Notifications. That is why I spent the better part of an hour going into every junk email I received and hitting “unsubscribe” at the bottom of it. It only takes a while once, and then your inbox will be free and clear from unwanted emails.
4. Get Evernote and actually use it
Evernote is a God send. A and starting using it when we both forgot a major deadline because we thought the other was taking care of it. Yikes. Evernote has so many amazing features for digitizing your thoughts. First I created multiple lists of things we needed to get done…they were some serious brain vomit lists. Then I used Evernote to categorize all of my lists into notebooks. I created notebooks for: the remodel, groceries, to-do lists, and even hobby goals (like taking sign language classes, signing up for a volunteer program and learning guitar).
The best part about Evernote is that you can share your notes with other users. So for example, A and I went and measured the floors of our home and then created that note and shared it to each other. You can even photograph handwritten notes and it digitizes them for you (I photo the blackboard grocery list in our kitchen all the time now!).
5. Save electronic copies of documents
This might just be something that we have been stressing over because we just bought a home, which basically means that our loan officer needed to see documentation of everything we’ve ever done ever. A and I spent a few hours downloading all of our W2’s, car titles, loan documentation, past tax returns etc. into neat little folders in our computer. It has been it insanely easy for us to find information and it has also been a huge aid this tax season. We also took photos of all of A’s music equipment, my camera’s and our electronics for our insurance (in case of fire or theft). I highly recommend keeping all of this information on a hard drive as well as your icloud, just in case.
6. Sort through those photos
While I am a decluttering freak, I am also a hugely nostalgic person and that often stops me from getting rid of items. The best part about digital organizing is that, for the most part, your space is unlimited. The only issue is that that can create overwhelming amounts of photos in your photos app and not you might not have much space on your phone.
So I suggest that you do what I did. I bought an external hard drive and then removed all photos off of my phone and onto it. I sorted through them and put all the keepers in specific folders (i.e. “Mexico 2016”, “Ryan’s Graduation Trip”, not just “Some Photos”). I then uploaded some to Facebook that I had forgotten to in the past and deleted them all off of my iphone to save space. Side note: you can also upload all of your voicemails onto your computer to save space (I have voicemails from A back in high school that I cannot bear to delete!).
7. Save your passwords
Again, this might just be a problem that I have, but I forget pretty much every password that I have ever created. That is why I bought 1Password, an app that allows you to save all of your passwords with just one password. This took me forrreevvver, but that is just because I had to go into every website where I had forgotten the password and then reset it. One I reset them, I saved them all in my app. I seriously look at this app at least once a day and it has been such a time saver. I also created a password protected drive on my macbook that contains our passwords, wills and other sensitive information.
So that is my lengthy post on how we got our digital lives together. Please be sure to tune back in in a few weeks to check out my new installment: Clean Out Your Home!