We’re good at tackling the cupboards when decluttering our homes, but what about the decluttering tips for your tech life? Old photos, ancient laptops – experts Holly Brockwell and Tiana Cline explain how to tick off your tech to-dos.
Decluttering tip 1: Organise your inbox
Having an email filing system makes life a lot easier, but few of us have the time to set it up. Luckily, most email providers can automate the process.
Click the cog at the top right corner and choose ‘Manage rules’. Click ‘New’ and set up whichever rules you’d like. For instance, to file all emails from your boss to the folder ‘Work’, choose ‘Sender contains’ and enter your boss’s email address. Then, under ‘Do the following’, click ‘Move to’ and select the Work folder (or create it). Bingo! All emails from your boss will now go to the Work folder – just don’t forget to check it!
Google’s email system calls folders ‘Labels’. To create a new rule, for example, to deliver emails from your kids’ school’s email address to the folder ‘School’, click the little arrow at the end of the search bar.
Put the school’s email address in the ‘From’ box, click ‘Create filter with this search’ then select ‘Apply the label: New label’. Enter the label name ‘School’ and click ‘Create’, then ‘Create Filter’. From now on, all emails from the school will be filed under ‘School’. You can also file all existing emails from the school into the folder at this point if you want to.
Click the cog at the top right and click ‘Settings’. Go to the Filters tab and click ‘Add’ to add the filter you want, for example, to send all emails from your yoga teacher to a folder called ‘Yoga’.
Give your filter a name (it doesn’t matter what you enter – Yahoo just insists on a name), then click ‘From’ and enter the teacher’s email address. Under ‘Then move the message to this folder’, click the menu, then ‘New Folder’. Create a folder called ‘Yoga’, click ‘Save’ and you’re done.
Decluttering tip 2: How to dispose of old devices
If your old tech just can’t be saved or it’s taking up a lot of space, find it a new home.
Depending on device condition and age and whether it works, some shops will offer money or vouchers in return. Trade in your old iPad, iPhone, or Mac at the iStore and you’ll get cash off your new purchase.
Vodacom will allow you to trade in selected old devices when buying a new device on contract, with discounts on your monthly payments. At Cell C, you can trade in an old device in exchange for credit on your bill or cash towards a gift card. Check T&Cs with service providers.
For PCs and other IT equipment, list on For Good to match up your item to a charity in need. Or donate to a specific Cause under the Electronics section.
Freecycle and trash nothing
If you think your old gadgets aren’t worth very much, give them away to someone by posting on your local Free Cycle or Trash Nothing. It’s free to advertise, and people will come and collect from you.
Recycling and refuse
Makro, Incredible Connection and HiFi Corp all have DESCO drop-off points at Desco Electronic Recyclers for any electrical item (from old PCs to printers) that you want to recycle safely.
Before you let it go…scrub all the data on your device before you sell it or give it away. Here’s how:
Remove any SIM cards and memory cards from phones before you part with them.
On an iPhone
Go to Settings; General Reset, then tap on ‘Erase All Content and Settings’.
On an Android phone
Such as Sony, Huawei, Samsung and so on… go to Settings; Backup & Reset, and tap on ‘Factory Data Reset’. The menus might be worded differently depending on the phone.
For laptops and computers
It varies depending on how old the computer is. But your best bet is to google the software that it runs, plus ‘secure wipe’ (for example: ‘Windows 7 secure wipe’ or ‘Mac OS X 12.2 secure wipe’). If you’re not sure what software version it has, just switch it on – the start-up screen will tell you.
What if your computer won’t turn on? The hard drive still contains your personal data that could be retrieved by other people.
To be on the safe side, open up the computer case with a screwdriver, find the hard drive (a rectangular box – look for ‘hard drive’, ‘HD’, or ‘HDD’ on the label) and remove it. Either store it somewhere safe in your house or wrap it up in a towel and smash it with a hammer (yes, really!).
A freelance writer and editor, with 15 years’ experience in the media industry. With a passion for health and fitness, Tammy loves nothing more than researching the latest wellness trends. And if she’s not running around after her sweet four-year old daughter, you’ll find Tammy on her bike, in the gym or exploring the great outdoors – followed by a good coffee, of course!