Spring Cleaning 101: How To Be A Tech Minimalist

Photo: W2 Photography

Spring is steadily approaching, and that means spring cleaning is on the horizon. While many of us dread this annual ritual, it doesn't have to be such a pain. Think of it more like an opportunity to clear any excess from your life—an exercise in releasing that which no longer serves you.

And one thing that a lot of us could stand letting go of these days is our dependence on technology. Plenty of studies show that too much reliance on technology can be harmful to our health (mindbodygreen even named big technology the next big tobacco in their most recent wellness trend report). By physically and digitally cleaning your technology and taking time to focus on experiences away from your devices, you can greatly enrich your life this spring. These four tips will help you spend less time on your devices and make the time you do spend on them more meaningful and efficient:

1. Be mindful of how you're spending your tech time.

In order to start a new tech routine, you need to take stock of where you're starting from. By gauging what technology you use most often, you can prioritize what you need to clean out. Force yourself to be more mindful by downloading an app like Moment, which will tell you how often you look at your smartphone daily, and write down a log of your TV time for a few days.

Review the findings and move forward from there. If most of your time is spent on a smartphone, you should first clean out unnecessary distractions on your device and include your phone as a major part of your digital detox, which we'll get to later.

2. Clean out your devices.

Next, go through your computer or tablets and either transfer files to an external hard drive or delete them. Don’t forget about your downloads folder as you declutter and audit your text message threads as well! Keeping those old messages takes up memory on your phone, so go through conversations and delete threads you don’t need. The less clutter and fewer unnecessary files on your devices, the faster they'll work.

Then, move on to physically clean your computer to increase its life span and save you headaches and frustration. Compressed air is the best way to clear your device of dust, hair, and all the other debris that accumulates over time. Make sure the can of air is upright when you use it because the chemical used in compressed air can hurt your tech if it’s applied incorrectly. Using a nontoxic screen cleaner along with a microfiber cloth can also add longevity to your devices.

Computers aren’t the only tech items that get dirty. Phones get grimy and overstuffed with apps you don’t use or need. Delete unused apps and back up pictures and videos to the cloud or another computer so you can remove them from your phone and free up more space.

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3. Perform a social media audit.

This step is super important: Unfollow toxic people or people who don’t influence your life in a positive way. If you wouldn’t hang out with these people outside of the internet, then they aren’t worthy of your time on social media.

4. Try a digital detox.

The start of a new, warmer season is the perfect opportunity to give that digital detox you've been talking about a try. Go do something with your friends or family and connect with them, or take a few days for yourself. Revisit a favorite hobby, find a new interest, try a new restaurant, read a book, or do anything else that doesn’t require a screen. Start small by turning your phone on Do Not Disturb an hour or so before bed, and challenge yourself to work your way up to more off-line time from there.

Not sure whether your relationship with tech is healthy? Here are 5 surefire signs you could use a digital detox.

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