I've talked about Marie Kondo before: with her best-selling book 'The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up' and now a Netflix show, she's somewhat sweeping the nation. Her KonMari t-shirt folding technique changed my life. I mean, maybe not changed changed, but this self-confessed neat freak sure gets a lot of joy sparked from beautifully folded t-shirts all lined up in a row.
The concept of sparking joy deeply resonates with me. Why would we surround ourselves with anything that didn't spark joy. And why limit that to the physical world? The concept of sparking joy is such a great one it deserves to be taken out of the physical world and into the digital realm.
Does your inbox spark joy? Does your desktop? Or are both a cluttered disaster of unread future to-do items? How about your apps, the open tabs on your browser and your file management system?
Let’s Marie Kondo our digital life! Here are a few of my tips to achieve joy-sparking digital organization:
The Basic - Create three folders: ToDo, ToRead, ToFile. That’s all. Anything you download goes straight into one of those folders, no excuses, it takes 3 seconds.
The Bonus - Schedule 30 minutes a week, put it on your calendar, to go through your folders. Delete anything you haven’t read. File your ToFile folder and create calendar appointments to get the ToDo’s done.
The Basic - Create two subfolders for your inbox: URGENT and IMPORTANT. Any email that needs a response today goes into your URGENT folder and anything else goes into IMPORTANT. You then assess the amount of time you think you need to complete the URGENT emails and schedule that time on your calendar. Depending on my week, IMPORTANT might get batch processed at the end of the week or in a few sessions during the week.
The Bonus - Don’t open your inbox or look at your email until after you have completed your highest priority task for the day. Too many people allow their inbox to dictate their to-do list - don’t let other people overtake the prioritization of tasks you set for yourself.
The Basic - Any app you use daily or in heavy rotation within a week goes on your home screen. Everything else can be a big old mess because the search function on your phone will quickly allow you to access the other apps as you need them.
The Bonus - Go through your apps and delete anything you haven’t used and know you don’t need anymore. I have a folder of “apps to test” which is where I put anything new I have downloaded and want to play with. The reality is you will forget to trial them so when you do your clean-up you can make a decision to test the new app then or delete it.
The Basic - I quite like having a lot of browsers open so I use two active windows. One window has all my active tasks with gmail and my google sheets open on that window - and the other window I keep open with the reading I plan to do. I don’t keep anything open like travel ideas or shopping or facebook, I think they should be opened and closed in a session otherwise it's just too easy to get distracted from what you are supposed to be doing. Especially shopping - if I see something I like I just save it to Evernote (or the Notes app on your phone). I figure I will come back to it if I really decide I 'need' it.
The Bonus - I am a big fan of the apps Instapaper and Pocket, they allow you to save an article for future reading and will download the article so you can read it offline. Put all your browser reading into one of the apps rather than keeping them open indefinitely, so when your wifi goes down or your travel is interrupted you can productively use that time.
The Basic - I use dropbox but it doesn’t matter which system you use. What is important is that you actively file your documents and use a system that makes sense to you long term and not in the moment. “Stuff” is a really bad folder name when you are looking for your kid's school report. I love descriptive folder names with years, like Kids_School_2019.
The Bonus - Set up calendar time once a month to diligently tidy up your filing system. I often multi-task my tidying with listening to webinars like my favorites on CBInsights - pausing filing when something really interesting comes up on the webinar. Or while watching Marie Kondo on Netflix!
Let me know how you spark digital joy, we can all neat freak together.