Welcome back to the series of Decluttering Your Life.

The second part of this series will tackle the digital aspect of life.

In this article I want to focus on reducing the amount of the digital tools to minimize distraction.

As an Interaction Designer I am quite open to try out new services all the time.

However, with all the new tools that pop up every day, I lost overview what I actually signed up for over the years.

Why does it matter? Because I still get all the marketing emails that bloat up my inbox and I can imagine that many people have the same problem.

In general, I decluttered my digital life by…

  1. Unsubscribing from all marketing
  2. Signing off from services I haven’t used in years
  3. Removing “dead” applications from my Laptop / Mobile devices
  4. Turning off notifications from most applications
  5. Limiting social media access

Alright, let’s get started.


1) Unsubscribing from Marketing Emails

I don’t think this one requires any complex explanation. It just takes some assiduity work, if you never cleaned out your inbox before.

For those of you, who use Gmail or Inbox, you have a beautiful head start because google collects them in the “Promotions” bucket. You just have to scan this bucket and see what’s still useful for you. Don’t worry about catching all of them yet. Over time you will probably continue receiving emails from some services. Just unsubscribe then.

After that, here is a tip to make your life more easy in the future:

  1. Create a smart folder in your email application
  2. Whenever you sign up for a new service, add the sender to the list of the smart folder.


I’m currently following various entrepreneurs and digital nomads. My email account has 3 folders:

  1. Main Inbox – this is where all my personal emails arrive
    1. 1 – Entrepreneurs – these are emails from e.g Tony Robbins, Pat Flynn, Lewis Howes, etc
    2. 1 – Digital Nomads – these are emails from JohnnyFD, Chris the freelancer, Screw the cubicle, etc.

This way you have a clean separation between personal emails and “Promotion” emails.


2) Signing off from Services you don’t use

This one goes along with the previous step. When you sign off from emails, ask yourself the question if you still use the service in general. If not, delete your account. Most of them have the account deletion in the Profil tab, however, there are services out there that make it especially difficult by hiding the account deletion in the FAQ section -> “How to delete your account”.
There are also some that require to contact the support, so you have to email them (they want you to waste time on this so you find it too cumbersome to quit).

How to make a decision what services to use?
You problaby have a list of services on top of your mind that you frequently use. What helped me, was to put these services into categories to make a better decision which one to let go.

Category News:
I used to have Flipboard, Pocket, Google News Playstand, Feedly all at the same time. But did I use them all? No! Therefore kept only one as my main source for news: Flipboard.

Category Travel – Booking
I used to have Hotels, Agora, Booking, Hostelworld. However, the one that I used most was Booking. Got rid of everything else and voila, less promotional emails. Bam!

Here are some categories you can think of besides the one that I mentioned above:

  • Messaging
  • Flight Booking
  • Video streaming
  • Music streaming
  • Podcasting
  • Note taking tools
  • To-Do Lists
  • Photography services
  • Finance / Banking
  • Education / ELearning
  • Cloud Storage services
  • Networking apps (Meetups…)
  • Fitness apps
I removed unused applications from my laptop and decluttered the dock.

3) Removing "Dead" Applications

By getting rid of unused services you will inherently be able to remove associated applications from your laptop or mobile device.
I was able to reduce the amount of homescreens on my Android Phone from 5 to 1! Now I have my most used applications on the first page which saves me a ton of time.

And for the rest of the services that stayed, I turned off notifications or at least set the refresh rate to a lower frequency. Man, silence can be so peaceful.

There is another super positive side effect besides saving time and being less distracted from notifications: You save a fucking ton of battery life!

Why? Because with less applications trying to connect online and refreshing data every minute, your battery drains less quickly.
For that reason, I could extend my battery life from a bit over 1 day to over 2 days!

I could get over a day of battery life before, but after removing some apps, I noticed a significant improvement.
My App drawer is much simpler now because I have only have services installed that I use most frequently. Everything else is in folders.
I deleted all my social media apps from my phone. Occasionally I check some accounts via the web interface. This is less convenient and I found myself checking less frequently.

4) Limiting Social Media Access

Here is the biggest change that came along with my digital life decluttering: I removed Instagram, Facebook and FB Messenger, 500px, etc from my phone. All social media services in general to be honest. Besides WhatsApp.

I started this “social sabbatical” after reading quite a powerful book called “Deep Work”, which argues that we are living in a world with too much distraction that leads to a lack of focus. Our ability to work deeply focused is strongly limited nowadays.

However, it doesn’t necessarily mean to get rid of all social media, but rather to limit the time we spent on it. Long story short, by having all these apps not on my phone, I can focus on reading while commuting or listening to podcasts & audiobooks. But I will get in more detail about social sabbaticals in a later article.

What I also did, was setting up email notifications in case someone messages me on Facebook. This would reduce my time spent on Facebook because I don’t have to login frequently. Wouldn’t setting up email notifications be contrary to the point of turning them all off that I mentioned before? No, because my email client on my smartphone doesn’t send me notifications. Only in case I check my emails manually, I would see that notification 😉