You have most likely heard of hoarding, an often debilitating condition when individuals store an excess of items in their home that can lead to unmanageable clutter. However, you may not be as aware of digital hoarding. According to the NHS, “More recently, hoarding of data has become more common. This is where someone stores huge amounts of electronic data and emails that they’re extremely reluctant to delete.”
While the internet seems limitless, the data you store can actually be detrimental to your health. The NHS explains that digital hoarding is associated with:
- Severe depression
- Psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Digital hoarding is defined by Wikipedia as “excessive acquisition and reluctance to delete electronic material no longer valuable to the user” but how do you know how much data is too much? Learn more here…
What is digital hoarding?
Even if your dishes are done, your cupboards are clean, and your car is spotless, what about your inbox, photo album, and hard drive files? This clutter can cause as much chaos in your life as an overflowing bin.
According to this survey, on average, individuals have 582 saved mobile photos, nearly 83 bookmarked websites, 21 desktop icons, and 13 unused phone apps… plus 645 gigabytes of material on external storage. While this data doesn’t take up space in your home, there is such a thing as too much information, and it can be a sign of more complicated mental health issues.
If you feel like you might be affected by digital hoarding, there are some questions you can ask yourself to identify whether your data may be causing you undue stress. For example, does it feel like you spend an inordinate amount of time searching through files on your phone? Do your browser tabs often overwhelm you? Does the idea of switching to, or obtaining new devices cause you extreme anxiety? Does your inbox contain an unrealistic number of unread messages in the tens of thousands? If so, don’t panic.
Even if you answered yes to any of these questions, odds are that you are not a digital hoarder – just a digital mess.
How to clean up your digital life:
Below you can find ways to clean up your digital life and take control of your data:
Clean up your friends list.
Social media is just one area of your life where some digital cleansing could go a long way towards decluttering your life and your psyche.
Create folders for your desktop.
While it’s not the most exciting or glamorous way to spend your time, cleaning up your computer and sorting important documents into files can help you get and stay organised.
Delete your bookmarks.
A quick tip is to copy your entire bookmark list into a Word document, and delete the whole list from your browser Bookmarks. As you find that you need the URLs once again, you can add them back into your bookmark tab.
Check your smartphone memory usage.
Check your phone’s settings to determine which apps you haven’t used in more than a month. Delete those applications, and remember that you can always re-download applications if you find that you need them once again.
Take time for an email overhaul.
Schedule time each week to unsubscribe from email lists that you are not actively interested in. While it may seem tedious, you will notice a significant decrease in the amount of unopened email in your inbox.