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Refresh! A Digital Clean-Out For 2013

January 8, 2013

I’m on a clean-and-purge kick this week, if you haven’t noticed from my epic fridge clean-out, but now it’s time to take this same concept and turn it digital. If you’re like me, you have a cluttered laptop, from outfits you meant to try 3 years ago, to recipes you promised yourself you’d make, to PDF’s full of self-help magic that you never got around to reading.

And don’t even get me started on your phone full of downloads, your social media accounts crowded with people you don’t even care about, and your RSS feed with unread 1000+ posts



How to clean out your digital life for a fresh start in 2013


 Assess your digital needs. Depending on what you use for computer/phone/social networks for, you’ll have different organizational needs. For instance, I’m a lifestyle blogger, editor, designer, and freelance stylist. I also happen to snap about 30K photos per year, just for fun.

All of that good stuff needs a home. My folder system is broken down into each of those roles, and further into specific jobs and projects. Photos are divided into folders by month/year, and music by genre. In one root folder on the desktop I keep fashion and at-home inspiration, which I regularly clear out. I have one other folder containing resumes and important paperwork.

That said, it will be different for everyone. Figure out which items you will need to access more often and prioritize your organization method around them.


 Start with your desktop. Icons for programs you never open? Trash them. Stray documents you meant to archive? Move them to your root folder for now. Random images of cute animals you saved without thinking? Gone. If you feel the need to cheer yourself up with cute animals in the future, they will be waiting for you in Google Search.

Finally, get yourself an attractive desktop background that doesn’t distract you. When you minimize your work and see your desktop background, it should bring you a sense of tranquility. For some, including a to-do list gadget on the desktop helps to motivate them, but I find it distracting. I like mine to look like vintage wallpaper.



Above: My desktop right now. Not exactly pristine, but pretty close! I have a few stray folders here that I access daily for projects I am currently working on.  


 Dig into your folders. Grab a cup of tea, put on some good music, and jump in. Do a quick sweep of each folder, deleting anything that isn’t absolutely freaking awesome and incredibly inspiring. This is not as hard as editing your closet, but some of you will resist hitting delete. You won’t miss any of your pretty pictures. You won’t even know which ones you deleted by the time you’re through. Purge!

Try asking yourself: Does this image/file/whatever represent who I am/my goals/my business? Am I going to use this file within the next few days/weeks/months at all?




After the first sweep, organize what’s left into the appropriate sub-folder. For instance, if it’s a folder full of “fashion”, you could organize it into “makeup ideas”, “bohemian style”, “outfits”, or “DIY this”.  Keep it simple and relevant.

Afterwards, rename your files with simple, descriptive, search-friendly names so you can access them quickly. Put documents in their appropriate folder. I organize by task/project. I have a folder called “vault” for items I don’t need to access often but still need to keep around.

Tip: Plan on going through these folders once a month to delete anything you don’t really love (or any folder you haven’t bothered to look at). 


 Inspiration hoarders: Can’t bring yourself to delete the eternal bog of pretty? Move it off the computer and online to sites like Pinterest and Tumblr. This way you can always log onto your profile and soak in the beauty, but it doesn’t slow down your system or your search time.

You might also consider how much time having all of these images takes up, even if you do look through them regularly. Wouldn’t your time be better spent creating than pouring over things other people have created? (The answer is yes).


 Clear out your inbox. This is a daunting task, since most emails are related to a to-do list item yet un-addressed. Sweep through and delete anything useless. Make a to-do list based on the tasks each remaining email represent. You will tackle those this week. Answer any friendly conversations in a few sentences, archive, and bada-bing.

Tip: Unsubscribe from any mailing list that doesn’t sing to your soul and/or provide you with incredible advice you are able to actively put into practice. I’m pretty sure if you’re subscribed to Seth Godin, Marie Forleo, Kris Carr, and your favorite other-blog (maybe Hey Mishka! wink wink), you won’t miss the rest. If you’re a fashion blogger, definitely stay subscribed to IFB and BoF!


 Delete ridiculous fonts. If you spend any amount of time designing graphics for your blog or some other outlet, you can relate to getting font-drunk on free font websites (or even designing 50 of your own, now that there’s-an-app-for-that). You know damn well you are not going to use ’em, but they sit there.

Filter your fonts, mercilessly deleting near-duplicates, novelty sets, and anything you haven’t used in the past year. It will likely be over 50% of what you have installed. You will thank me for this.




 Uninstall programs you don’t use or need. Still have Poladroid installed? Have you used it since you sold your soul to Instagram? Didn’t think so. Internet explorer? Your old AIM client? If you’re not using it, you don’t need it taking up space.


 Flush out your phone. Is your phone suffocating under the weight of your friends drunk texting you blurry photos, video clips of extended family member’s pets, or apps you downloaded to “increase productivity” to no avail? Are you running 50 programs in the background and draining your battery without realizing it?

It’s not just you, babe. It’s most of us. Do a merciless uninstall of any BS apps—or anything you have not used in the last week. You don’t really need Instagram and the 6 other apps that try to be Instagram, do you? Delete blurry, crappy photos from your photo library. Delete e-books you know you’re not going to look at during your commute.

Just like your computer, your phone should only contain the most inspiring, useful content available to you, and it takes constant editing to keep it that way. For more great tips, check out how to make your phone run faster and how to increase your battery life.


 Streamline your digital To-Do list. I have a master To-Do list in Google docs with sub-categories housing all of the things I need to do. This list is never really empty. That’s OK. Because I have an immediate to-do list on my phone on Any.Do (highly recommended app), where I keep my today-only to-do’s, in the order I need to do them.

Nothing on my mobile list has a deadline of more than 48 hours away. It’s all immediate, without next week’s project lingering to distract me. This works really well for me, and prevents lists from trickling into one another, which creates confusion and evaporates motivation.

Need help streamlining your actual list of upcoming projects? Watch Marie Forleo’s video on dealing with overwhelm.


 Clean out your RSS. Remove blogs that haven’t updated or haven’t posted anything thrilling in a while. Remove anything you tend to procrastinate clicking on. Keep just a few blogs for each area of interest, and stick with blogs that have simple, easy-to-digest ideas you can employ right away, or news you can absorb and move on from in a snap. Every other day, click “mark all read”, and move on.


 Streamline your social networks. This one is easy. Delete and/or unsubscribe from people and pages you don’t care about. It’s nothing personal, you just don’t have time! And we know social networking is a time devouring monster. Organize your twitter feed and facebook friends/pages into lists, if it helps.


 Can’t handle it? Automate it. Services like Belvedere (for PC users) and Hazel (for Mac users) will auto-organize your stuff for you. You can also streamline your data and access it from multiple devices using a service like Evernote.


 Back it up, buttercup! Your next purchase, if you don’t already have one, is an awesome external hard drive for a full laptop backup, which you will do this week, no excuses. You should also be backing up important items as-you-work to Dropbox or the Cloud.

That’s all I’ve got! I hope this guide will help you achieve the clean and clutter-free digital experience, so you have more time for the fun stuff!


Remember: The key is to make these things a normal maintenance routine, just like the quick organizing you do (or should do) once a day to make sure your home office doesn’t turn into a paperwork horror movie. This whole list could take up to a week to do, so have patience.

Be brave, soldier. I’ll be working on this all week too!

P.S. If you found this post helpful, please share it on facebook, twitter, or send the link to a friend! And as always, I’d love to hear from you, so drop a comment below and let me know how your digital clean-out is going.

26 Comments leave one →
  1. January 8, 2013 6:38 PM

    Loved you post, it’s super helpful :)
    Maria C

    • January 8, 2013 6:39 PM

      Thanks Maria, glad you found it useful. Let me know how your digital detox goes + happy 2013!

  2. January 8, 2013 8:32 PM

    I love your post and blog! You are very inspiring Mishka! I am now following you on bloglovin’, can’t wait to read more! :)

    • January 15, 2013 6:38 AM

      Thanks Sophie! That’s an awesome compliment. xo

  3. January 8, 2013 9:57 PM

    I’m all on this! Thanks girl.



    • January 8, 2013 9:59 PM

      You’re super welcome! Loving your blog + your style.

  4. January 10, 2013 2:42 PM

    I needed to read something like this. A task that is so daunting! This will help for sure!

  5. January 11, 2013 6:08 AM

    Great tips! We could all use a little bit more cleanliness~

    The Occasional Indulgence

    • January 11, 2013 11:09 AM

      True that! Thanks for checking out the post Naomi. :} ox

  6. January 15, 2013 6:21 AM

    Such a great post! I read it and was like MUST CLEAN OUT COMPUTER, and I’m now in the process…this may take a while.. xxx

  7. January 29, 2013 2:49 PM

    I really love this post!! I’m going to clean out my computer and refresh my calendary!

    • January 29, 2013 2:51 PM

      Great to hear! Good luck + let me know how it goes ;}



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