Tidy your Tech

From sprucing up your social media accounts to decluttering your desktop, cleaning up all your digital debris could be the key to a clearer mind – no feather duster required.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
From sprucing up your social media accounts to decluttering your desktop, cleaning up all your digital debris could be the key to a clearer mind – no feather duster required.
Corbis/Click Photos
Corbis/Click Photos

Being nose deep in a toilet bowl on a Saturday morning is the worst, especially when there’s no 2am-karaokeselfie to show for it. Cleaning sucks, but what doesn’t is how you feel after you’ve finished. Professional organiser Karen Perkins says cleaning has positive effects on your well-being.

“By getting organised, your stress levels will go down and life will seem a lot less overwhelming,” she says. If the cleaning is less dusting and mopping, more dragging and dropping, the same benefits apply, right? It’s time to clear out your technology!

Your Inbox

Ah, the old 126-unread e-mails situation. It’s mostly junk or notifications about online sales too dangerous to read, but they’re still taking up space. “When a project seems too big, putting it down to smaller, more manageable steps will help it seem less daunting,” explains Karen.


Getting removed from the databases of newsletters you never open will help your inbox health. “Time and effort now will save you in the future,” says Karen. Most junk e-mails have an unsubscribe option. Be ruthless.


Sort your inbox by sender, so you can highlight and remove in one go. By sorting them like this, you’re less likely to miss important e-mails and you can see where the bulk of your e-mails are from.

Make Friends With Folders:

After your epic cull, organise the remaining e-mails into relevant folders. Work e-mails are pretty self-explanatory – sort by month or subject. It’s the “Hey Girl” memes and pug pics that can be hard to find a home for. Create folders like “Shopping” and “LOL”.

Streamline Incoming Mail:

In Outlook, you can set up your inbox so e-mails from certain people go straight to designated folders. Your mum: “Family”. Your ex: “Trash”. You can do the same thing on Gmail too, by filtering your e-mails according to sender, and enabling your settings to archive those e-mails directly into folders.

Your Phone

If you’re working, busy and/or have a social life (*cough* Facebook stalking), a functioning smartphone is like air and H20 – it’s essential to life. Just as there’s not enough room in your closet for another dress, when your phone is giving you the old “not enough storage space to take another picture” memo, it’s time to sort your stuff . “An uncluttered space eliminates distractions and helps keep your mind focused,” Karen explains. Her advice? “Keep similar things together. It’ll make everything seem more efficient.”

Simplify The Layout:

To keep your phone clean and accessible, limit it to three home screens. Pop your “most used” apps on the first page, along with apps you need to open quickly (like your camera, Snapchat and Instagram). The next page should include lesserused icons organised into useful groups, like “Listen” (for music apps like Spotify and Apple Music) and “Read” (for reading apps like Bookmate and Magzter). Pop distractions like Candy Crush (and Facebook, if you dare) on the last page, so they’re less likely to tempt you every time you go to do something work-related.

Free Your Phone Of Music:

With the huge number of streaming music services like Spotify, Guvera, Apple Music and Rdio available, you no longer have to clog up your phone with music files. That means more space on your phone for selfies and photos of your cat.

Clean Your Screen:

Your phone can get a little feral with fingerprints, but like cleaning a computer, paper towels are out! Screen wipes are great, but so is making your own mixture of 60 percent water and 40 percent isopropyl alcohol (available at the pharmacy and major IT stores like Challenger). For a hardcore clean-out, get right in there with a cotton bud. The grime will amaze – and disgust – you. You’ve been warned.

Say Yes To System Updates:

We know, they’re a mega pain at times, but putting them off can mean not being able to get new features (like filters) on your fave apps, such as Snapchat and VSCO Cam. You should also keep your apps updated to get the most out of them. Lazy? Enable automatic app updates via your smartphone’s settings.

Corbis/Click Photos
Corbis/Click Photos

Your Social Media Accounts

“If you want to feel productive, make the most of idle time,” says Karen. “Doing small, five-minute organisational tasks in your down time will make tidying seem less daunting.” Translation: the lazy girl’s way to freshen up your social media accounts is to do it on the bus on the way to work. Don’t worry,LINE:Disney Tsum Tsum can wait a couple of hours more.

Do A Friend Cull:

Take a vacuum to your contacts list. It’s a great way to politely remove people from your life that you no longer associate with (that one friend of a friend you met in 2009) or who fill up your feed with passive-aggressive rants or frequent full-on PDA (gross, and goodbye).

Update Your Privacy Settings:

Decide how much you want people to see and adjust accordingly. The timeline review is a Facebook lifesaver, allowing you to check out comments and pictures before they go public. Don’t want to be added by randoms? Block them from searching your name at all (top right hand corner, under Settings).

Back It Up:

Yep, backing up your Facebook account can be done. Go to Account > Account Settings > Download a Copy of Your Facebook Data. All your photos, videos and Wall posts will be saved (scary, but true). It’s kinda like Timehop multiplied by a thousand. Keep it as a passwordprotected fi le on an external hard drive.

Edit Ads:

Sometimes, sidebar ads for engagement rings on your Facebook page are just too much, especially when you’ve just been through a break-up. If a particular ad is bugging you, you can block it. Hover your mouse over the right-hand corner and click “I don’t want to see this”. Warning: we can’t guarantee a less annoying ad will take its place.

Sync It With Your Fitbit:

If you use a wearable like Fitbit, just sync it with your Facebook profile to compete with mates and triple your motivation. Log in to the Fitbit dashboard, then click on the Friends tile and select “Find my Facebook Friends”. They’ll then receive an invitation to become fitness-goal mates.

Only Have Time For A Quick Clean? Watch Tv While You…

+Empty the Trash on your computer.

+Optimise your laptop’s battery by charging it to 80 percent (not 100) and then draining it to 40 percent.

+Set up an automatic back-up from your computer/phone to the iCloud.

+Sign up to Spotify/Apple Music/ the future.

+Subscribe to a podcast. Oh and FYI, Criminal is the new Serial. Clean inside your keyboard with a toothbrush to get into the cracks.

+Make sure all of your social media sites are connected to your one current e-mail address.

+Create music playlists for when you’re chilling out, working out, or partying at home.