Last Monday I introduced my project for this month: paper & digital clutter. I spent last week looking for ways to conquer paper and digital clutter so that I could start spending my time more productively in other ways.
Some of these ideas that I'm going to post about may seem obvious, but as obvious as they are, it's not something I did until this week. I needed the focus to actually follow through with these "ideas" and that's what this month long project is doing for me. It's giving me accountability and focus by blogging about it, and I really hope I'm inspiring you to do the same.
I started off by looking at the list I made last week of where the clutter is coming in. Then I made a plan/researched of how I can take care of it.
Today I'm talking about conquering internet digital clutter. Yesterday I shared about paper clutter. Tomorrow I'll share about conquering computer digital clutter.
Conquer email and RSS feeds in a more productive way.
- I'm an email junkie. Love everything about it -- the deals and coupons sent right to me, corresponding with family, friends, readers, and customers, etc. But my big problem is the amount that comes into my inbox everyday and the amount of time I spend going through it. I've come up with some solutions that are working great for me so far.
- Choose specific times throughout the day to check email and RSS feeds.
So obvious, but not something I've ever been able to do. Every time I'm bored, I'd be checking my email/feeds and then end up sidetracked, again. Next thing I'd know, Chris would be walking in the door from work. I just got in a funk being home all summer with nothing to do. Now I am only checking my email and feeds at 8:30 am, at 12 pm, at 4 pm, and at 9 pm.
- Go through all email/feeds first, deleting what I'm not interested in, and leaving what I am interested in to read when everything has been opened.
This allows me to quickly get through my email and then focus on what's left all at once, rather than clicking through emails and getting sidetracked for an hour because that one clothing sale looked so good...
- Unsubscribe from or change frequency of emails that I never click through or read.
I am guilty of subscribing to every email newsletter I come across because I don't want to miss a deal. But with the number of coupon blogs out there, I let them find me the best deals now. I kept track of the number of newsletters I unsubscribed from last week and I ended up leaving 208 newsletters. Seriously. I used to wake up to 150 emails every day, and if I didn't check my email all day, I'd have 250 by 9 pm, and that was in just one email account. I have 5 that I check every day -- 2 blog emails, a personal email, an old personal email that I'm transferring from, and my junk mail account.
- Have a junk email account that's separate from a personal account.
I no longer accidentally delete important emails from friends and family or bills that come through email. It makes it a lot easier when I don't have time to check my email all day to just be able to delete everything in the junk account and only focus on the important emails in the personal account.
- Sort saved emails.
Gmail has a wonderful feature called labels. If I'm going to keep something, I apply a label and then "archive" it. This saves it automatically for me. (Labels are like folders in Gmail.) This makes finding past Etsy sales so much easier than sorting through a folder called "save" (like I used to use with Hotmail).
Conquer social media in a more productive way.
- With all of the social media available today, it's hard to check those updates along with email. I have Facebook and Twitter accounts. I don't bother with any of the other social media out there. I found better ways to deal with the daily updates on these sites last week.
- Unlike pages on Facebook and unfollow on Twitter.
At one point a few months ago I "liked" over 200 pages. Mostly from entering sweepstakes/giveaways. My main FB wall was being taken over by tons of page updates and I wasn't seeing any friend updates. I decided to weed out those that I didn't have interest in and my FB page looks much better now. To see what pages you like on Facebook, click on your name in the top left corner on the homepage of FB. Click Info and scroll down the page until you get to Activities and Interests. This will show what pages you "like" and therefore see page updates for on your main FB wall. The very last in the list will say "and # more" - if you click that you'll be able to see all of the pages you like, as well as their page picture so you can remember exactly what the page is if you don't recognize it by name. If you want to "unlike" a page, then you need to click on the page name to visit it and scroll down the page to find this text on the left side:
- Change the updates you receive from friends on Facebook.
I don't particularly enjoy seeing every game everyone is playing on Facebook or every comment they leave on someone's page. I just feel like it's information that I don't need to know, and I don't want it to be a "top story" every time I log in. The only good thing to come out of the most recent FB update is the way you can follow or subscribe to friends. All you need to do is hover your cursor over their name and wait for the little box to pop up, then moved the cursor to hover the subscribed box, and then you can uncheck the things you don't want to subscribe to. These updates will then no longer show up on your wall feed.
- Sort your friends/likes/follows/RSS feeds into categories.
On FB you can sort pages and friends into "lists" now. Laurie from TipJunkie has a great tutorial on how to set that up in your account.
On Twitter you can sort those that you follow into lists as well. To do this, create a list first by clicking "lists" under the update box on the main Twitter page and then "create a list". Then you can click "following" on the right hand side to view those you are following and click the little person next to each following box and select "add to list". Now you can categorize all of your Twitter follows accordingly.
For RSS feeds, it all depends on what you use to view them as to how you can categorize them. I use Google Reader. To add a folder to Google Reader, select one of your feeds that's already in GR and click on the little down arrow to the right of the title, then select "new folder". Simple. The only thing I don't like about Google Reader is if you want your feeds alphabetized in the folders, you have to do it manually.
- I sort all of my internet bookmarks into folders. This makes things easier to find, but also is something that's stored away out of sight, so often gets out of hand. To combat this, I've thought of some questions to ask myself before bookmarking everything I find:
- Why am I bookmarking this?
- Will I access it at a later time or is it something that is just a quick read for later?
- If it's not something I'll use on a daily or weekly basis, is it a resource that will be useful to me in the future?
- Can I Google it if I need to? (For example, I have magazine websites bookmarked. I never use the links except maybe once or twice a year. I think I can Google that info instead if I need to.)
Use Read It Later, a Firefox add-on, to gather articles/blog posts/websites I want to read later.
- I love Firefox for the practical add-ons they have available. Read It Later is by far one of my faves. When there's a blog post or article on a website that I want to read, but don't have time - or that I want to reference for a blog post - I save it to Read It Later. All I have to do is click on the little yellow tag in the web address box in my browser and it automatically saves it. It doesn't save it on your computer, creating junk, it saves it online in your Read It Later account.
- The only issue: you can forget what you've marked to read later...creating pages and pages of things you need to catch up on. Guilty. I recently cleared mine out and now make sure to add it to my weekly schedule of things to do. I try not to abuse this add-on anymore and only mark things I truly am interested in getting back to.
- See Jane Work :: Organizing Your Email
- Blogging With Amy :: How to Keep Your Inbox Empty
- Technology Your Way :: 3 Ways to Clean Up Your Digital Clutter
Tomorrow I'll be posting about conquering computer digital clutter. I felt like today's post was long enough that I didn't want it to drag on and on.
What have you done to conquer internet digital clutter at home?