I cleaned out my digital closet and found time for people and brands who matter.

I generally don’t delete people on Facebook. I don’t feel a “cluttered” friends list is worth a potentially hurtful moment in someone’s life when they discover I couldn’t stand the look of their face hurtling through my news feed to the point where I went out of my way to unfriend them.

However, there was too much clutter in my digital life and I’ve taken steps that have not only brought back a lot of the joy I used to find in online connections but have also given me more time to be present for the connections and brands who matter.

With email, I have long maintained inbox zero. Email is such an integral part of our lives now that I saw 38,000+ unread messages akin to having a disgusting, cluttered home. Sifting through all the digital junk takes a lot time that could be spent learning or having meaningful engagement with real people.

I recently reached a point where I ruthlessly unsubscribed from everything unless it’s something I read the majority of the time. If I’m not gaining any value from the clutter, why allow it to be there and dominate any of my time whatsoever?

With Facebook, I unfollowed (not unfriended) almost everyone except my extended family and circle of friends I engage with even somewhat regularly. I unfollowed every brand and every news source – I get my news from newsletters or visiting the apps, and do I REALLY need to see ads from brands? No. I shut off all notifications on all social media accounts except for direct interactions.

And guess what – I don’t miss anything I threw out. Not a single thing.

I now enjoy checking my email and looking at my Facebook news feed. It’s 100% people I truly care about and all of my attention is on them now. I actually feel lighter. I don’t have the mental strain of deleting tons of emails I don’t care about or scrolling past Facebook posts I don’t care about. It’s easy to look past these things because it seemingly takes so little time to simply scroll past or delete, but add those moments up and it’s a lot of wasted time and mental energy that could be redirected to becoming a better version of yourself.

Beyond wasted personal time and energy, I had another motivating factor in cleaning up the clutter. As long as I’ve been in the workforce I’ve struggled to deal with people who are so overwhelmed by digital clutter that they don’t have time to properly read important emails or completely focus on any one thing at a time.

How many times have you sent an email to someone only for them to reply back with a question you already answered in the previous email? Or they didn’t even see your email because they have 23,000 unread messages, so you get an email from them asking for information you sent them three days ago? Ironically, their lack of organization and attention causes even more digital traffic for themselves and everyone around them!

On my end, I’ve worked to try to make emails as concise as possible. Before I hit “send” I try to delete a couple more sentences. If it truly needs to be on the longer side, I highlight headers in a different color and put bullet points for skimming. For the most part I cut out salutations and get straight to the point. As with everything in life, it’s a work in progress and always will be. At least now I’ll have the space to think about it!