Digital Essentialism

Digital Essentialism

How is your digital life? Feeling overwhelmed by all the clutter in your inbox, hard drive and cloud service? I know I was.

Though I consider myself to be a minimalist essentialist, there does come a time when I get lazy and the discipline slides. Clutter, digital or otherwise, can get distracting over time. Now may be the perfect time to clean up your digital room, so to speak. If not daily, then weekly because a well-organized computer will yield positive results for your state of mind and your workflow productivity.

Here’s how to get started:


When was the last time you backed up your data? If you can’t remember, then it has been too long. I set a calendar reminder for once a week, then plug in the dedicated external hard drive, flip on Apple’s Time Machine and let it do its thing-creating and preserving a snapshot image of everything on the MacBook’s drive. Before all that, I suggest sorting through your Downloads folder and assign to a proper folder or delete. How are your other folders? Photos, Music, Videos, Documents all need to be sorted. Toss what you have been holding on to for some reason. After all that, then take out the Trash and delete everything in that folder.


Just as the computer gets cleaned up, so too your Cloud backups. My Cloud mimics the desktop with everything in place. Run Time Machine again and ensure good backups.


If you have dozens of software programs and apps, it is time to have a think about what you are actually using. If you haven’t used a program in say six months, then uninstall and free up space on your machine. It will thank you for it. Do you really need four calendar apps, two music players, three browsers and who else knows what? Pick the right tool for the job and stick with it. Uninstall the rest.


A cluttered desktop can be overwhelming and distract from your focus and productivity. A messy computer desktop is akin to a messy physical desk. Nobody wants to see that. Sort that clutter into their respective folders, empty your Trash can folder and enjoy the serenity.

The MacBook desktop

Web Browser

Now, wait just a damn minute, Chris. This is sacred. If I don’t have multiple tabs open or bookmarked, I run the risk of losing and forgetting them. I might even return to them…someday.

That mentality is an old way of thinking that needs to be corrected. You won’t go back to them. You don’t need it. One of these days, your browser’s memory will slow to a crawl, and you’ll be forced to reboot the thing and potentially lose all those open tabs you’ve been saving.

Inbox and RSS feeds

If you cringe every time you access your email inbox, then you are doing it wrong. Email should be assigned from an inbox to a folder, replied to or deleted. Don’t forget to take the trash out again when done. If the mail is piled up, and you are overwhelmed, most email applications have a search feature.

RSS feed readers are a remarkable resource to stay current on the websites and blogs you enjoy. Shameless plug inserted here- But how does your “Unread” count look? Either read the article or save it to the “Read It Later” folder. Everything else can be deleted. The same can be said for podcast episodes!

One Password To Rule Them All

I dislike passwords, and captchas and just about every modern day credential grabber. Who can keep track of them all? I used to and failed. Then I tried a third-party password manager. I only needed one password to log in to that, and every time I needed to sign in elsewhere, that application would pop up and log in for me. That was fun until their data center was hacked and everyone’s passwords were in the open. I currently use Apple’s Password manager.

I’m already signed in to an Apple account, so I don’t have to remember a password there. Any website I visit, the Password app is ready to log me in, or help me create a new username/password. Once credentialed, Passwords will retain the info and be ready to use again. All it requires is my Face ID or Touch ID.

The Takeaway

Our digital usage over multiple devices can overwhelm us, and we open ourselves up to clutter. Who has the time to organize when we just want to scroll a feed or watch a video? I find that currently we need to be more mindful. Digital simplicity, essentialism, and minimalism is more important than before.