Dozens of apps you never log in to, thousands of cluttered photos in the gallery, and an inbox crammed with emails. Does this scenario sound familiar? Digital clutter can collapse a device and create psychological stress on people and cybersecurity risks for businesses, according to some research. Here are some tips to mitigate it on mobile and computer.
"Digital clutter is stressful," says Cal Newport. This professor of computer science at Georgetown University (Washington) argues that "incessant clicks and scrolling generate a buzz of background anxiety." In addition to regaining control of notifications, bringing order to digital life is a great challenge in a world in which more and more photos, videos, documents and emails are generated and stored.
Amanda Jefferson, owner of Indigo Organizing, explains that "we often make our digital clutter problem bigger than it is." "Before you start desperately Googling how to organize your life, it's helpful to take a step back and ask yourself if it's really all the digital things that stress you out. Or is it just one or two areas, like photos and archives?" he asks. The key, according to the expert, is to focus on what causes more discomfort.
Manage thousands of photos
"Instead of pulling your hair out while cleaning photos or dealing with a bunch of messy images, try using some of the sophisticated features of many photo apps, like facial recognition and date and time tags," Jefferson says. On iPhones, the Photos app recognizes faces in pictures and sorts them in the People album. "If you add names to faces, you'll be able to search for photos by a person's name," the Cupertino company says.
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In addition, Apple allows you to find images by date, places, events or categories (such as "beach", "sunset" or "food"). These functions are also usually available in the galleries of Android phones and in some applications such as Google Photos, which allows you to find memories of "a wedding you went to last summer, your best friend, a pet or your favorite city".
To save space and bring order, it is also advisable to remove blurry or duplicate photos. Google Photos has a feature to review and delete blurry photos in a matter of seconds and Remo Duplicate Photos Remover is an app to get rid of duplicates. The latter can also be easily done in the iPhone Photos app by tapping on "albums", "duplicates" and "merge".
Organize your digital files
To find documents on your computer or on platforms such as Google Drive or Dropbox, it is important how you name them. Jefferson likes to start with the date — the year, followed by the month and day — and add some descriptive words about the file: "If you're keeping copies of your children's grades, you can use their name and semester." The expert also advises grouping files into folders. Instead of "creating a large, complicated folder architecture," he suggests starting "with some simple folders, such as 'medical records,' 'school,' or 'cars.'" Put files in them and add more when needed," he says.
To "order digital life and protect your data in the process", from Carnegie Mellon University they advise "create a backup in the cloud or copy this information to an external drive to store it safely in case it is lost, stolen or even hacked your device". Something that is not easy for everyone, according to the cybersecurity company ESET. Among the most common mistakes when making this copy, the company highlights doing it on the same device or equipment in which the original information is and not classifying the information.
An alternative is the 3-2-1 rule. "It consists of having three copies, in two different types of support [for example two in two computers and another in the cloud] and storing one of them in a physical place other than our home or workplace. In this way, we make sure we have a backup copy of our information in the event of unwanted unforeseen events," Ángela G. Valdés, Cybersecurity for Citizens technician at the National Institute of Cybersecurity of Spain (INCIBE), explains to EL PAÍS.
Manage email overload
If approximately 2022.333 billion emails were sent and received per day in 200, this figure is projected to rise to 376.400 billion by 2025, according to Statista. Faced with such an avalanche of emails, labels can be very useful to put some order. It is a kind of bookmarks that allow you to classify messages. For example, those of "work", "invoices" or "travel". To use them in Gmail, tap the menu icon in the upper left corner of the screen and choose the option to create label. In this way, it is possible to group the emails and have them ordered in a kind of folders to locate them more easily.
This is just one of the tricks to manage email overload. Jefferson also suggests using "more sophisticated apps to clean up email" like Superhuman. This service, which costs 30 dollars – about 27 euros – per month, became fashionable a few years ago in Silicon Valley by allowing you to control messages only with keyboard shortcuts.
Delete unused 'apps'
As Jefferson points out, "no digital wipe would be complete without cleaning your phone." The expert recommends getting rid of unused apps that, in addition to occupying storage space, saturate the home screen and can waste battery. These apps can be uninstalled one by one manually from the home screen. To delete several apps at once on an Android mobile, you have to enter the "manage apps and devices" option in the Play Store and select all the ones you want to delete.
On Apple phones, simply enter "iPhone storage" within the phone's settings and select which apps or delete from a list that indicates how much each of them occupies. In addition, iPhones have a function to automatically get rid of apps that are not used. To activate it, you have to enter settings and click on "App Store" and "uninstall unused apps". "If you reinstall an app, its data will be restored, as long as it remains available in the App Store," says Apple, which does not detail how long an application must be ignored by the user for it to be deleted.
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