In the video below YouTuber abbe lucia is cleaning her “depression room”. I found the video because it was mentioned in an article from the New York Times. Apparently the term depression room has become popular thanks to videos on TikTok and YouTube. I wouldn’t know because I don’t have TikTok and I rarely watch YouTube videos. Have you heard the term before? How clean is your room? Would you describe it as a depression room? My room actually is quiet tidy, but my computer is one big chaotic mess. The folder for downloads contains all sorts of random files with non-recognizable names. In Google I have so many bookmarks that I don’t know where to find one when I need to. In my mailbox there are thousands of emails, including advertisements which I’m totally not interested in. I have the feeling that there is a lot of attention in de media for cleaning physical rooms, but barely for decluttering digital spaces. In this blog I will share some tips with you for decluttering your digital devices.
Create an Archive
The first tip is to create an archive in which you can store any file or email you haven’t accessed in the past 90 days. This tip comes from the The Minimalists. They’re famous for their Netflix movie The Minimalists: Less Is Now. They are against consumerism and they are for eliminating excess material things to make it possible to focus on what is truly important in life, namely: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution. It can be very hard to determine what’s worth keeping. That’s why the Minimalists have come up with a rule. They call it the 90/90 Minimalism Rule. The rule works like this: You pick an item. Have you used that item in the last 90 days? If you haven’t, will you use it in the next 90? If not, then it’s okay to let go. Does this sound boring? Rules tend to do so, but they can be very helpful when you want to make a change. The Minimalists do not only recommend you to pare down your material stuff, but also your digital stuff. On their website they advise you to organize the folders on your computer once a month. When you haven’t accessed a file or email in the past 90 days, you move the file or email to a backed-up archive. You’ll always be able to access the files if you need them. They will be out of the way until you’ll start searching for them. You shouldn’t keep every file forever, though. If you haven’t needed a file or an email in the last six months, get rid of it. Keeping your files organized will make your life easier, because it will save you time.
Focus on Function
The second tip is to just focus on function and not on aesthetics. This tip comes from KC Davis. She is a licensed professional counselor and author of the book How to Keep House While Drowning. She is also on TikTok. She focusses on having a livable space, not a spotless one. The tasks she gives herself are realistic, and they focus on function. For example, the function of doing the dishes is being able to eat from a clean plate. So, when you don’t feel like you have enough energy to wash all your dishes, at least clean one or two plates for your next meal. Ms. Davis is talking about decluttering a house, but I think some of her advice is very much applicable to digital devices as well. For instance, sorting the apps on your phone on color. It will look nice, but will you be able to find back an app when you need to? Some people will, because they can remember pictures and colors very well. Other people won’t. Please, if remembering colors is not your thing, sort the apps differently. You could for example sort them alphabetically or per activity. Folders are meant to sort the apps in such a way that you can find back one easily. This is very handy. You should make good use of this function!
There are Always Exceptions!
The last tip I’ll give you in this blog is to keep in mind that every rule will always come with some exceptions. Here are some examples:
- Even though you have to get rid of some files, you shouldn’t remove all of them. Some, like tax records, you do need to keep.
- Also, keep some pictures. They may look useless to you, but you could use them, for instance, as wallpaper for your digital devices. When the pictures “spark joy” to you, you should keep them. “Does it spark joy to you? ” is the question Marie Kondo is known for. According to her, you can also ask yourself this question when digitally organizing.
- And, maybe some mess is okay. There are people who embrace mess, because they think messy is cozy or because they want their space to be trendy. Messy rooms are not very Instagrammable, but they are TikTokable. A Nielson study from 2021 shows that TikTok is a platform that users turn to for content that appears authentic and unfiltered. So, knowing this, you might feel less urge to start cleaning.
In conclusion, digitally organizing is not that different from physically organizing. In both cases you could keep in mind the function and in both cases you should always remember that there will be exceptions. While digitally organizing, you could use an archive. Maybe you could also create a physical archive when cleaning your room. It turns out that there are quiet some tips online for decluttering your digital devices. I’m curious to know whether depression, digital spaces could become a thing, like the “depression rooms” have been this year. You might be decluttering your physical room sometimes, but when is the last time you have been organizing your digital clutter?
Callie Holtermann. (March 8, 2023 Wednesday). This Trend Is a Mess. The New York Times. https://advance-lexis-com.ezproxy.leidenuniv.nl/api/document?collection=news&id=urn:contentItem:67R3-HG31-DXY4-X14D-00000-00&context=1516831.
Dana G. Smith. (January 10, 2023 Tuesday). ‘Depression Rooms’ and ‘Doom Piles’: Why Clearing the Clutter Can Feel Impossible. The New York Times . https://advance-lexis-com.ezproxy.leidenuniv.nl/api/document?collection=news&id=urn:contentItem:678X-HNF1-DXY4-X1W1-00000-00&context=1516831.
The Minimalists. https://www.theminimalists.com/.
TikTok. (October 20, 2021). Nielsen study shows TikTok ideal place for “discovery,” content more “authentic”. https://www.tiktok.com/business/en-US/blog/nielsen-study-tiktok-discovery-content-authentic.
Whitney Shakespear Henry. (December 6, 2022 Tuesday). Marie Kondo’s digital organization tips. The Deseret News. https://advance-lexis-com.ezproxy.leidenuniv.nl/api/document?collection=news&id=urn:contentItem:677F-5D71-JCMC-W2MX-00000-00&context=1516831.