Ahh, spring! It is the time of year when warm weather and sunshine inspire us to open our windows and scrub every nook and cranny of our homes. We de-clutter overflowing closets, polish furniture and repaint bedrooms.
But these days spring cleaning isn’t just for the physical space. Your virtual life may benefit from a deep clean, too, as things tend to get unruly and messy on the Internet. Inboxes reach the hundreds (or thousands), news feeds become sources of anger and annoyance, and then there’s LinkedIn, which somehow always falls through the cracks.
Spending some time getting your virtual life under control can ease stress and make your everyday simpler and more pleasant.
To start with your virtual spring cleaning, make a list of all your virtual spaces: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, email, RSS feed, etc. Then, pick one of those spaces and follow the steps below to clean it up. Once you’re done move on to the next space, one by one, and keep going until you’ve worked through your list.
Note: not every step and bullet is applicable to every virtual space. Pick and choose the ones that work for you.
De-clutter + Purge
First things first: get rid of the things you don’t use.
Unfollow the people, blogs, and organizations cluttering up your space – physically or mentally. Over-posters, over-sharers, or those you’ve outgrown. Your news feeds should not be a sense of annoyance nor should they make you feel bad about yourself. You’re awesome – don’t let strangers (and friends) on the Internet make you feel otherwise.
Unsubscribe to newsletters, email blasts, or blogs you don’t read. For many of us, this list can be crazy long, especially for emails. To simplify things, try a bulk unsubscribe service – like Unroll.me.
Delete/Archive old emails. (And answer any lingering ones.) Yes, you’re going to go for it! For some of you, this is relatively simple – for others, well, we’re talking thousands of emails. If you’re in the latter half, it’s just going to take time. There are products out there –like Mailstrom – that can help you get to zero, but they’re not cheap, and there’s also a step-by-step guide for Gmail. Whatever your process, just make sure that as you’re purging, you’re also staying on top of emails coming in so you’re not undoing all your hard work.
Dust + Organize
Now that you’ve de-cluttered, it’s time to dust, polish and organize.
Refresh your profile. Take a look at your bio, your profile photo, your email signature and your job history. Does it still reflect who you are? If not, update and polish those stats.
Organize your emails. You just spent some time, potentially days, purging your inbox. First of all, congratulations. Now, you need to decide on a system for future emails so you’re not right back to where you started in a few months. Set up folders. Automatically have emails forwarded. Flag important ones. Get the Mailbox app. It’s up to you how you organize; just make sure it’s a system you can stick to.
Update + Redecorate
Everything is clean and organized. Now, bring it to the next level.
Follow new people, blogs and organizations. You just purged all the unnecessary – potentially toxic – people, blogs, and organizations from your virtual life, rebuild with some new characters that inspire you. Search for individuals and groups you admire, look up to, are challenged by (in a good way), or simply bring joy to your news feeds.
Redesign your backgrounds and cover photos. It’s easy for things to get static, but keep your virtual life fresh with a new Twitter background, a new Facebook cover photo and a new font for your email signature.
What are your tips for cleaning up a messy virtual space?
Image via Milena Mallory