15 Digital Minimalism Tips: Declutter Your Digital Life

By Ray Arya •  Updated: 10/08/20 •  16 min read


*Disclosure: This article may have affiliate links, so I may receive a commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link.

We all know that accumulating material possessions clutter up our homes, forcing us to declutter every now and then to finally get organized again. 

But apart from physical and mental clutter, digital clutter is a real thing as well but so often gets overlooked.

Most of us use multiple digital tools for work and in our leisure time. Smartphones, tablets, and computers are tools that make our lives tremendously easier, but if we let them, also unnecessarily challenging.

The biggest problem lies in the terrifying growth of our screen time.

So as we spend more time and are getting increasingly dependent on our devices, we need to declutter our digital life regularly as well to avoid mess, overwhelm, addiction, and stress.

To solve this problem, I have created a list of 20 digital minimalism tips on how to declutter your digital and online life that you can apply starting today! 

If you want to reduce your screen time, organize your digital files the right way, and free up some time for the real world, you are in the right place. So let’s get to work!


What is digital clutter?
How do you practice digital minimalism?
1. Take control and get rid of your digital mess
2. Build a habit of decluttering your devices regularly
3. Get rid of unused apps or software
4. Organize your apps and files into folders to keep your desktops clean
5. Regularly backup your important files
6. Minimize your social media accounts
7. Find offline alternatives to social media
8. Turn off your notifications, reduce distractions, and get back your focus
9. Check your emails and declutter your inbox once a day
10. Unsubscribe from useless newsletters
11. Limit your screen time 
12. Disconnect From The Digital world for a day once a week
13. Distance yourself from your phone
14. Switch back to a basic phone
15. Spend more time offline and outdoors
Digital minimalism tips summary

What is digital clutter?

Digital clutter is digital disorganization.

Pictures and files that are spread around your computer or phone, apps that you rarely use, old and unread emails, and all digital things related to slowing down, distracting, and overwhelming your life, can be called digital clutter. 

Just like physical clutter, digital clutter can make your life unnecessarily complicated, stressful, and even sad.

But unlikely to material clutter, digital clutter often gets overseen or is simply neglected because they remain in small boxes.

But if you don’t take care of it, it will sooner or later control you.

And that is where digital minimalism comes into place.

It helps to clear up your clutter and gain power over the devices that are built to serve as tools and not as messy and distracting burdens.

Book recommendation:

Digital Minimalism – Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World – Cal Newport

How do you practice digital minimalism?

By becoming a digital minimalist, we’re able to rebuild our relationship with technology so that it serves us, as it was intended to, and not the other way around.

You need to understand that app developers and social media platforms are working very hard to entertain us and keep us hooked in front of our screens for as long as possible to make more money. 

But if you also realize that it is always your choice how you use technology, you can start breaking free. 

The goals of digital minimalism are:

Sadly, these goals are not easy to achieve. But luckily, there are simple ways to build habits around being more intentional with our digital usage.

And the sooner we cultivate them, the better.

In a nutshell, the steps include: 

So if you are wondering: “how can I simplify my online life?” stick around and find some life-changing answers here!

15 Digital Minimalist Tips to simplify your digital life

1. Take control and get rid of your digital mess

Let me tell you a little secret: It is your fault that you spend hours and hours in front of your smartphone, tablet, computer, or TV.

It is not the fault of Instagram, Tik Tok, Facebook, or Netflix. It is, yours! 

You might ask: “And how exactly is that statement supposed to help me?” 

Let me tell you how.

Once you realize that your digital devices are just tools that you can and must control, and not the opposite, your mindset will shift from a victim mentality to a problem-solving mentality.  

Because let us be honest. Nobody is forcing us to browse, swipe, and react to every digital distraction you come across.

You have just got used to doing so and stopped questioning why.

So it is time to take control and make intentional decisions around your digital and online usage starting now!

2. Build a habit of decluttering your devices regularly

Minimalism is about enhancing the quality of your life by getting rid of useless things and focusing on what brings you joy.

In the digital world, we tend to hoard more files because downloading files gets faster and faster, and we simply don’t see physical clutter. 

However, files, apps, subscriptions, games, downloads, and emails add up quickly over time and fill up our storage.

The only way to get around this is not to delete everything only once but to build a habit of decluttering your devices regularly, be it once a week or once a month.

Compare it with cleaning your home. Even if you live minimally, things inevitably come into your life. Therefore you need to declutter continually. 

Same with your devices. Go through them once in a while, and make sure that you keep them organized and tidy.

3. Get rid of unused apps and software

How many apps and programs do you really need? Do you use all of them? Most probably not.

Admit it, you don’t even know what for you downloaded some of them. 

The good thing is, deleting them is even simpler than the download and installation process. Takes just a few clicks, and within seconds, you have decluttered a big chunk of digital mess.

Screen through your smartphone or tablet and delete apps that have been downloaded, installed, and never get used. 

On your computer, find programs that you don’t need and uninstall them too. You will be surprised how much crap is occupying your storage.

You will not only free up space for your tools but also make sure that your devices run smoother and faster.

Having fewer apps enables you to navigate through your screens more easily.

4. Organize your apps and files into folders to keep your desktops clean

You know the annoying feeling when you can’t find apps or files you are looking for. 

To make your life easier, make use of the simple organizing functions of your devices.

Reorganize the existing apps and files into folders and give them proper names to ease your search.  

Place your most-used apps into folders on your front page and the ones you occasionally use into folders in other pages. 

What I do is keep my computer desktop clean by putting all files into one folder.

On my iPhone, I have all my apps in 9 folders. All are named accordingly for easy access.

Organized screens will help you access your apps faster, find things with ease, work more efficiently, and stop wasting your time looking for what you want.

5. Regularly backup your important files

A useful tip for keeping your important files such as pictures, sentimental and vital documents organized without cluttering up your digital devices is to back up your files on an external hard drive.

I know this can be a pain, but we are talking about your memories and essential files that you might want to see in years or decades from now.

We take thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of pictures and videos in our lifetime. Keeping them safe is highly valuable.

A pro tip is to conveniently store these essential files on a reliable cloud storage.

The most beneficial advantages with cloud storage are the elimination of duplicates on numerous devices and, of course, redundancy, meaning when one device breaks, your essential files stay safe in the cloud.

Further, you can access all your files on each and every device without using additional storage. 

A little downside is that you obviously need an internet connection to view them. But in our modern world, that should not be too difficult 😉

6. Minimize your social media accounts

One of the most significant distractors and time-wasters of our time is social media. 

Who has not experienced searching for something on the net and ending up with nothing 2 hours later, just because we got hooked looking at pretty pictures on the net.

Studies prove that we spend too much time on Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube, consuming all kinds of useless and even harmful content.

We get addicted to fetching news from meaningless social media feeds. And it seems that every year, new platforms are shooting from the ground.

Not only do we waste our time, but we compare our lives with those who pretend to be living a perfect life.

And this is a way of making ourselves feel that we are missing out or lacking something, that life treats others better than us.

This is called the comparison game, a game that nobody can win except the multi-billion dollar industries that run those platforms themselves. 

The comparison game is also the number one reason why we accumulate stuff we don’t need and cannot afford to impress others that we don’t even know and like.

The most concerning thing is that many parents grant their children access to social media from a very early age, resulting in concentration loss, depression, anxiety, and addiction.

Studies show how much damage we are putting on ourselves.

We need to end this starting today!

7. Find offline alternatives to social media

It is crucial to understand that these social media platforms can never make us happy if we solely consume trash. 

So, minimize your social media usage and live more in the real world.

Meet your friends at the coffee shop, exercise, learn a new instrument, read a book, or educate yourself with new learnings.

Socializing with people you don’t even really know will rarely be more fulfilling than meeting someone in person.

Sign off the accounts you never use. Stick to one or two platforms and limit your usage time.

Try to experiment with different tactics, like timing your social media time for a maximum of 15 minutes a day.

Or delete your social media apps on the phone, smartwatch, or tablet, and use your platforms on your computer instead.

Making access to social media more difficult can make a big difference. Start mellowing and stop reacting on social media.

Finally, use social media to share valuable information with your friends, family, or business.

Get the information you are looking for and log off once you’re done.

Don’t let useless feeds eat up your time and energy.

And don’t let it plant the thought in your head that your life is worthless.

8. Turn off your notifications, reduce distractions, and get back your focus

Another phenomenon that keeps us busy all day is app notifications.

The alert sound or the red sign that we see when looking at apps are major distractors and turns our focus away from what we are supposed to do.

Here comes an alert from a Whatsapp message, then another one for a new Youtube video from our favorite channel, then a Facebook message from an old friend, an Instagram post…

And then it starts all over again and continues until we go to bed.

No wonder that we can’t get things done properly and on time anymore. We get continually distracted and don’t do anything to end it.

But how?

Turn off your notifications and decide for yourself when to check on any messages.

You can always check on them after you have completed your task.

Take back control instead of repeatedly reacting to your phone. 

Reducing digital distractions will enhance your focus.

You can be more present, productive, and happier without being pulled out of your concentration by a highly addictive device that should remain a tool to make your life easier, not more challenging.

9. Check your emails and declutter your inbox once a day

When you use your email app for work, you know the feeling of checking your emails every time you look on your device, waiting for the next email to come that you will be answering right away once a new one arrives.

Even when you don’t expect any new emails, your finger will automatically swipe down or click on the refresh button to make sure that you are not missing out on something.

Even checking our emails can be addictive and highly stressful.

It gets even worse when you get hundreds of emails a day.

The trick is to check your email only one to three times a day and declutter your inbox regularly.

Make sure you don’t end up getting distracted by your emails, similarly to social media feeds.

10. Unsubscribe from useless newsletters

Another thing you can do to get rid of the overwhelming flood and minimize your time on digital devices is to unsubscribe from newsletters that you once thought would be valuable, but end up unread in your inbox.

And before subscribing to new newsletters in the first place, ask yourself at least once if it will really bring you value.

11. Limit your screen time

The most effective way of using your technology wisely is to set boundaries and limit your usage time.

There is really nothing wrong with playing video games, socializing online, watching Youtube, or showing your coolest dance moves on TikTok, as long as you do it in moderation.

You see, the greatest challenge for us is to find the balance because we don’t set any boundaries.

In my self-experiment to reduce my technology addiction I asked myself:

“How can I simplify my online life?”

So I limited my usage and drastically reduced my time on social media. I set my time to a maximum of 15 minutes a day, and it worked perfectly fine! 

I turned off my notifications, logged off the internet whenever I didn’t need it, and kept my phone and other devices away to make the access more challenging – and voila! I reduced my screen time significantly! Simple as that 🙂

12. Disconnect from The digital world for a day once a week

We underestimate the positive effect of a proper downtime.

Within a few short years, it has become usual to use technology and be online 24/7.

The least of us think of how harmful that can be to our body and mind. 

A highly valuable digital minimalism tip is to disconnect from the digital world at least once a week for a full day and simply log off.

No phone, no TV, no computer. Just you and the peace around you. 

This digital detox will clear your mind, and you will reap the benefits of feeling much more in control of your life.

Compare it with living in a crowded city and going to the forest once a week.

It feels like charging your drained batteries for the stressful week to come.

13. Distance yourself from your phone

Use your devices more mindfully and try to keep a distance from your devices.

The glooming screens can be attractive, but you know by now that they may bring you more harm than good.

When you are at home, place your phone, smartwatch, or whatever you want to get control over by the entrance and only get it for emergencies. 

At work, keep it in a drawer or inside your bag so that you cannot see it.

Avoid keeping it in your pocket, because you will surely reach for it multiple times to get your next dopamine hit.

Additionally, turn it into silent mode to avoid getting distracted by notifications or vibration sounds.

Tiny hacks, but they work!

14. Switch back to a basic phone

Having a hard time keeping your smartphone away?

Then you might need a more drastic change. For highly addictive people, author of “Digital Minimalism”, Cal Newport suggests going back to an old phone with essential functions. 

A phone without any fancy features or social media will more likely be used as it was intended to be, namely making phone calls or type short messages.

15. Spend more time offline and outdoors

This tip, by far, is my favorite. For me, the best medicine against digital dependency, whether it is your phone, smartwatch, or TV, is to be offline and spend some time outdoors.

The world, in all its facets, is more beautiful than any screen can offer.

And it makes me sad when our eyes are drawn into these two-dimensional pictures for more than half of our time.

Put your phone away, get on your bike, drive to the next park or forest.

Inhale fresh air, appreciate nature, embrace the peace around you, and feel free!

There is no better way of disconnecting from the digital world!

Digital minimalism tips summary

And again, with the help of those simple hacks, we can solve a significant problem in our society. 

The point is not depriving ourselves of the benefits of technology, but learning how to use them wisely and in moderation, so that we keep control over them and not the other way around.

Thinking of how much the digital world can harm our children if not used moderately, our job as parents is to show them the correct usage of technology.

We should support them in growing into independent, healthy, functioning adults without getting addicted to social media.

Lastly, the most effective way of using our digital devices is to use them less.

So the key principle of minimalism wins again: “less is more”.

Related Posts

Digital Minimalism: How To Escape Your Smartphone Addiction

Useful Tips To Become A Minimalist

Ray Arya

Ray is a frugal minimalist who loves to travel and live in his self-converted camper van. He writes about the benefits of downsizing, decluttering, saving money, building wealth, and the freedom that results from the power of less. Minimalray.com is for everyone who seeks a meaningful life and is committed to contentment.

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