Marie Kondo your Digital Life
With all the attention Marie Kondo has been attracting with her books and Netflix show, I thought it would be a good time to apply a bit of her philosophy to my own digital life, specifically my devices. Like many other parents, I have old game apps sitting around gathering virtual dust, photos and videos that should be sorted and stored and privacy settings to be checked on.
Since I suffer from 'out of sight, out of mind' syndrome, I set up some chunks of time on my calendar to remind myself to follow through. First up was clearing out old apps cluttering up my screens, because I'm lazy, I used my iPhone's "Offload Unused Apps" feature (you can enable and disable it in Settings -> iTunes & App Stores) and came back to that task a few weeks later to see what apps I haven't used recently and were offloaded automatically. This gave me a much smaller list to think about as it showed me what apps I truly use frequently. If you try this feature out on your Apple device, don't worry, it doesn't delete any of the data associated with the app, the app icon is still shown on your screen, but with a little cloud shaped, download sign beneath it and you can always download the app again by tapping on it. Android users can choose from a variety of usage tracking apps (there is one for example called 'Frequency'). No matter what device you have, you can make use of technology to help make your decisions or you can do it the old fashioned way by looking individually at each app.
After cleaning up the apps I don't use any longer, I moved on to photos and videos. These can really take up a huge chunk of storage on your device, if you don't have it automatically being backed up to the cloud storage of your choice you could choose one from the many options out there such as OneDrive, Dropbox, iCloud and Amazon Photos to name just a few or take the time now to copy what you want over to your computer. My biggest problem is taking 5 or 6 photos or videos of the same thing, but never going back to delete the ones I don't want to keep. Not today though! I sat down with a cup of tea and a treat to make it more appealing and scrolled through my secret shame of hoarded images of my kids and all of their amazing feats I immortalized. I'm not going to lie, it took a while, but it felt good to cut out all the excess and only have what I truly liked. This is a good time to think about how you can display the photos you did keep around your home so they can continue bringing you joy and not stay hidden and forgotten again until the next time you have to sort out your images.
Who might be accessing my information that I don't know about? What could people see if I lost my phone? These are the questions that keep me up at night (OK not really, but it's important). Since I was already engaged with what I have on my devices, what better time than now to do a privacy checkup? With less apps cluttering up my devices it should be much faster than before as well. Both iPhone and Android have a way to check your privacy settings for the apps you have installed, my areas of highest concern are Location Services, Contacts and Microphone, I want to know who is accessing my location and when, are they reading my contacts and accessing my microphone? For me, I like to limit how much the apps I have installed know about me and if and when they can track my location. My second concern is what is at stake if I lose my phone? There are many more inconveniences with more impact than just having to replace a phone, many of us use our phone to make purchases through apps (which have our payment information), we have contact information for our friends and family and access to our financial details. The number one thing to make sure you have on your phone is a password, it's a small price for some peace of mind if it ever went missing. I already have my phone password protected, to lock it down further, I've decided to take the more inconvenient (but safer) route of having to use a password to make any purchases. Finally, if you would like the ability to wipe all the data from your phone if it's ever stolen, you need to have the "Find my phone/device" feature turned on, this way you can log on to your iCloud or Google account to see where your phone is and initiate a remote wipe if you ever need to (which clears all the data from your phone).
Cleaning up your devices is not the most glamorous of tasks, but it gives you a great opportunity to make sure your personal information is safe and also can be eye opening to see the sheer number of photos and videos you've collected.