Technical solution: How to de-clutter and organize your personal techno in a few simple steps


With a new year and a new Netflix show featuring guru of the Japanese organization Marie Kondo on the art of "tidying up", many of us are experimenting how to simplify our lives by purging our homes undesirable goods.

But what about things we do not see?

Think of the digital junk food that we accumulate, such as the tens of thousands of photos that swell our smartphones or the backlog of files cluttering our computer drives, such as old work presentations, expense receipts and catch-ups. screen that we have not opened for years.

In addition to digital disorder, technological equipment adds to the pile of waste that does not cause any joy in our lives. Everyone has a drawer filled with old cell phones, tangled wires and headphones that are never touched. And the objects we use every day, such as charging cables scattered around the house, are a source of visual pollution.

Why are people so terrible in the face of technological hoarding? Cary Fortin, professional organizer of New Minimalism, summed up: "We do not really think about the cost of conservation, but the cost of needing it a day and not having it."

Do not worry, dear reader. As a technology critic who tests dozens of gadgets every year, I am in a unique position to struggle every day with extraordinary amounts of technology products and accessories. (Last year, I bought nine new smartphones, two tablets, four smart speakers and 14 power accessories at home.) Here's a guide to tidying up your technology physically and digitally, with tips from the organizers professionals.

Professional organizers claim that the power cable is the main cause of the technological clutter in all homes. Part of the problem is that we usually need different cables for products such as smartphones, batteries, cameras and laptops. These then accumulate in one and the same mess

Here's how to solve overcrowding of power cables in a few simple steps:

It sounds easier said than done, but here's a good general rule: "If you do not know what it's going for, eliminate it," said Marissa Hagmeyer, organizational consultant and co-owner of Neat Method. Among the cables you keep, if there are supplements, put them in half, such as two Micro USB cables, she said.

Along the way, you may be throwing away a thread that you will need later. But do not worry. "You can buy a new one so it turns out you need it," Ms. Fortin said. It's better than losing space on something you might hypothetically need.

The same approach can be applied to other technological gadgets, like the obsolete smartphone that lives in the sock drawer. If you have not been using it for six months, eliminate it. Unwanted technology accessories and gadgets can be disposed of responsibly through donation centers or online recycling programs such as Best Buy.

Choose somewhere in your home where your different threads will live, such as a closet, cabinet or drawer. From there, classify the threads and give them compartments. I separate my different types of wires – headphones, phone chargers, various USB cables and computer chargers – into Ziploc bags and label them with a label maker. All bags live in a drawer of my TV stand.

There are different approaches to organizing your power cables. Families with children could give each member a compartment. For example, insert your Joe son's iPhone charger, laptop charger, and earphones into a Ziploc bag and call it "Joe Technology."

This step is a must. "If you do not have a placeholder for your items, you're wasting your time finding them, "said Keith Bartolomei, Zen Habitat's professional organizer.

Even if you find a place to store your spare cables, you probably still have a few hookups all day long. To put them away, there are methods to hide the wires or, at the very least, to keep them away.

Mr. Bartolomei recommends the use of twisted yarns and elastics to keep the wires wrapped around furniture, like the legs of the desk. There are also products for binding and concealing threads, such as fabric sleeves or boxes covering your surge protector. My approach to keeping ground wires is to pass them through magnetic loops that clip onto a metal side table.

Storing your digital media may not seem useful because your files are not visible in the real world. However, keeping all the data takes up valuable space on the devices while making important files more difficult to find. Professionals have recommended a process of purging and labeling what remains. Here's how it would work:

To streamline this process on a computer, open a folder and sort the files by last opened date. From there, you can immediately delete files that you have not opened for years.

On your smartphone, delete unnecessary applications that take up space. On the iPhone, Apple offers the iPhone Storage tool, which lists the applications that use the most data and the date of their last use. on Android devices, Google offers a similar tool called Files. From there, you can retrieve your data and delete applications that you have not touched for months.

Eradicating photos is the most difficult process, professional organizers agreed, as suppressing your memories can be painful. But photos are among the biggest data problems. Periodic maintenance is therefore crucial.

Start by cutting the easiest ones: duplicate photos, blurry photos and old screenshots.

Then go to the most difficult part: delete the photos that were correct but not your favorites. Mr. Bartolomei said that people could look at each photo and ask themselves some questions: "Is this something you want to see again? It makes you happy? Do you want to spend more time with this picture in the future? If you answer no to any of these questions, the photo can probably be put in the trash.

My approach to digital photo management is to purge everything without any organization. I use Google Photos, which automatically backs up every shot on the cloud, compiles photos into albums, and includes a tool to remove images from the device. (I also save all my photos on an external drive in case I'm never satisfied with Google Photos again.) Then, I delete all the photos from my iPhone every six months and I pay $ 2 a month to Google to manage thousands of my photos in full resolution. .

Whatever your approach, do not skimp on the storage of your data. Even if it does not use physical space, it can still cause you harm.

"It takes so much psychic space and produces the same negative effect: anxiety," said Ms. Fortin. "Since we have all our phones in our pockets, we carry our mess with us."