As more of our day-to-day lives shift to digital, we end up collecting digital clutter in exactly the same way we collect physical clutter. These virtual bits and pieces all add up on our devices over time and can become overwhelming to navigate.

Research commissioned by Dropbox shows almost four in ten (38%) Australians admit their digital documents, images and videos are a “hot mess” and they usually have to hunt for what they are after.

But decluttering and organising your digital life is easier than you think.

Use the cloud to free your mind: Organise all your files in one place

Clear disc space to clear headspace. Moving everything to cloud storage is a simple and easy way to consolidate all your files, so you know exactly where they all are.

Marie Kondo encourages us to keep only what sparks joy. And this absolutely can be applied to our digital lives as well.

That’s why I love the cloud – backing up files to the cloud completely does away with digital and mental clutter. You can keep only what you’re currently working on (like your To-Do list) or what sparks joy (like your favourite family photos) on your devices, and everything else can be safely stored away.

And the science backs it up. As strange as it sounds, visible clutter can literally make us feel anxious, depressed and stressed. Researchers in the US found that levels of the stress hormone cortisol were higher in people whose environment was cluttered. This effect extends to our digital environment as well, with a study showing that the more digital ‘stuff’ people have, the higher their levels of personal stress.

Fortunately, neuroscience researchers have found that clearing clutter from the immediate environment results in better focus and increased productivity.

Tap into platforms like Dropbox which come with a ‘set and forget’ function that can continuously sync the files on your device to the cloud, and do so fuss-free in the background – no other devices or manual uploads necessary.

Digitise all your important documents

This brings us to one of the most critical digital tips: Digitise your important documents. Yes, all of them.

Interestingly, Dropbox research shows more than seven in ten (72%) Australians admit to not having digital backups of all their important documents.

Having easy digital access to all your critical documents might seem like a nice-to-have, but it really can have a positive impact on your life by taking the stress out of your life admin tasks. Some key documents to start with might include your passport, birth certificate, driving license, name change certificate, tax returns, and rental or home ownership documents.

How many of us have spent weeks putting off making insurance or warranty claims – all because we didn’t feel like physically searching for the right documents? Over time, that could add up to a hefty chunk of change fallen to the side.

Easy access for the win: Ensure access to files anytime, anywhere

Digital decluttering is great – but it’s not much good if your backed up files are scattered across different USB sticks, buried under odd socks.

While the aim is to declutter files from your devices, it’s also important to have always-on access to all files, including your backed up ones. Let’s say you’re enjoying your first holiday in years when the bag with your passport and phone somehow goes missing. Disaster? Not necessarily.

In this instance, having digital copies of your passport, travel docs and ID backed up to an always-accessible vault in the cloud could mean the difference between a day or two of inconvenience, versus your entire holiday ruined.

The key for me is peace of mind that I can access whatever I need when and where I need it – even if it’s not on my device. It will make your life easier in ways you can’t even predict.

Don’t stress about perfect digital organisation (if there’s a good search function)

Finally, don’t stress about getting your digital organisation perfect, search can help you find what you need.

Sometimes, perfection or over-organisation is what holds us back from organising our digital lives in the first place – that idea that we have to get it absolutely right or it’s not worth doing at all. Don’t fall into that trap! Search is your best friend and can do the heavy lifting. What’s important is getting started.

Remember, a basic organisation method is better than none. If your platform has a good search function, this will make it easy to find all your files, folders, and projects via just one search box. On some platforms, such as on the Dropbox mobile app, you can even search based on the content in images – for example, finding your favourite puppy pics among thousands of images can be as easy as searching for ‘D-O-G’.

I tag files and folders with searchable words so I can quickly find the ones I need through the search box.