Minimize your Digital Clutter: 3 Essential Tips


Say hello to Danielle Chassin, also known as @hippieindisguise: mama to the sweet Ro and Sen, iPhone photographer, and ambassador for slow, eco, minimal living.

This week, we are so grateful to have her share her tips on how she keeps that digital clutter of hers under control, while still capturing her family’s growing list of adventures.

I’ve been a parent for almost 12 years. When we recently got a computer and consolidated our photos, my husband and I realized that we had accumulated over 7,000 photos since our kids were born. We were a little horrified. I confessed this to a friend who said “Wow! That’s amazing, we have over 100,000!” I felt an odd comfort in learning I wasn’t that bad off, but then I remembered that I still had 7,000 to organize.

Minimalism and de-cluttering are definitely on trend, and while some of us have gotten pretty good at keeping our homes and work spaces free of clutter, digital clutter is a whole domain most of us ignore. It’s easy, right? Digital files don’t take any physical space, aside from the hard drive in our phones or computers. And with near infinite storage capacities between our many devices and clouds, it’s easy to just keep snapping photos endlessly and not worry about how many we have accumulated. Until…we want to make a photo book or print a few for our walls, then we have the daunting task of sifting through hundreds (if you are lucky) and usually thousands of photos. It’s enough to make you quit before you start.

Having a large volume of unorganized photos makes it an overwhelming task to select some to print for display, gifts and other projects.  Probably overwhelming enough that many of us, just put off printing photos altogether. There are a few ways you can get over this overwhelming feeling. While it’s ideal to manage the photo volume as you go, there are ways to start sifting through your photos - starting with your iPhone camera roll - that can help you get organized so you can print your gorgeous memories.

Tip #1: Create a new habit: Review and manage your photos on a regular basis, daily is best, to minimize accumulation of photos

On any day that I take photos I make sure to review the new photos the same day and delete any that aren’t special. For me this means, deleting duplicates or very similar photos, blurry photos, and other ones that don’t look very nice. I often find it hard to delete many the same day I took them, because the memory is still fond and near. So I always go back a week later and find that I can delete many more.

Be consistent and vigilant. If you let your camera roll accumulate a backlog you will likely just save all the photos to your hard drive or cloud, because it is too big of a task to go through them all.

When I’m having a hard time deleting photos it helps me to ask myself: “Is there a chance that I will ever print this?” If the answer is a quick no, then I know I can delete it. Remember, we are taking many more photos than people ever have, in most cases we don’t need them, we only want them. You are not a bad parent if you delete a few photos of your children. Seriously!

If you are beginning this task with 5,000 photos on your camera roll, I recommend setting a goal for each day, for example, reviewing (deleting) and organizing 100 photos a day. This may sound like a lot, but once you get started you will see that it goes fairly quickly, even quicker if you are brave enough to hit that trash bin icon!

Tip #2: Within the Photos App, use the Albums feature to organize photos, this makes it easier to find your favourites or particular photos at a later date

The Photos app on your iPhone has a few default folders (‘Albums’) that you can use to organize your photos and you can easily create new albums too. ‘Favourites’ is an excellent folder to start using, especially for the purpose of saving photos for printing later. To add a photo to ‘favourites’ all you need to do is tap the heart icon at the bottom centre of the screen. To save time, do this while you are reviewing the photos on your roll to delete those you don’t love (see Tip #1).

Pro tip: Use the favourites folder sparingly, otherwise it will not be much help to you if you have 500 favourites. Try to pick one favourite a day, or per occasion.

Other Albums that I have created are favourite photos of each child, sibling photos, flowers. Think about what photos you are likely to print or want quick access to. I have also had seasonal, holiday and vacation folders such as: winter 2016, summer solstice, Halloween, Vermont camping. I often make folders based on colour too, to identify photos with a predominant colour. This is really helpful when making photo albums if you need a particular colour to balance out a page.

Warning: if you delete a photo from your Camera Roll, for example when you sync it with your laptop, the photo will also disappear from all the Albums it was in.

Tip #3: If you are short of time, check the Instagram and VSCO or other app Albums to find your favourite photos

Some photo and graphic apps will automatically create an Album in the Photos app on iPhones. Instagram, VSCO, PicFrame and a few others do this. When I am in a rush to select a photo to send to someone or make a calendar or photo book for a gift I just go straight to these folders because they contain all my favourite photos that have been edited and cropped to my liking.

There you have it, there isn’t much to it. Just delete photos often and organize the others into albums. You will be happy you did it and so will your family and friends when they finally, not only see, but hold, photos in their hands.

About Danielle

Known as Hippie in Disguise, popular Canadian blogger and Instagrammer Danielle Chassin is a mother of two and a full-time policy strategist for the Canadian Government. Danielle is passionate about creative arts, the environment, and compassionate, kind and minimalist living. Danielle’s photography and writing focus on the little things that make life beautiful and inspiring. You can see what Danielle is up to by visiting her:

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All photos by Danielle Chassin.  Also- read her 9 tips for capturing children in interesting and beautiful settings.