Episode 37: Digital Clutter Deep Dive

As recent at 20 years ago “digital clutter” would not even have been on our radar, let alone a component of a Sustainably Productive life. Cell phones, tablets, laptops, and digital assistants are set up for home or work or both. Kids are getting devices at younger ages and schools are embracing digital learning environments. Episode 24 took a deeper look at physical clutter and this episode will take the same deeper look at digital clutter.

Here is what you can expect to hear on the episode:

  1. Sustainable Sue vs. 50-foot smoking hot Margot Robbie
  2. The rise of data obesity and why it matters
  3. Practical suggestions to start to tame the digital clutter

Search for “Sustainable Productivity with Susan Sanders” everywhere podcasts are available.

Links to Learn More

Links mentioned in this episode of the Sustainable Productivity podcast:

We would love to hear from you. Send your feedback on the episode, suggestions for future show topics or guests, and anything else to Susan@SustainableSue.com or in a DM on Instagram.

By |2023-10-16T12:22:53-04:00October 16th, 2023|Show Notes|0 Comments

Episode 28: The SMART Way to Tackle Digital Clutter

Digital clutter impacts our health and wellness as much as physical clutter. It IS part of our environmental surroundings. Digital clutter covers communication like emails, texts, DMs, and voicemails (for those of us who are dinosaurs that still leave and accept VMs), social media including Snaps, likes and saved ideas from Facebook, Instagram or TikTok; photos on your phone, on your computer or in the cloud (not to mention what has been sent to you in shared files, texts, emails and DMs). Then there are all of the digital files and folders.

I have been trying various tips and tricks for a couple years to try to dial into what will be sustainably productive for me to finally get on top of this digital clutter. I think I have a system and that is what I want to share with you. What habits and actions I do each week to manage the digital clutter. 

Here is what you can expect in this episode:

  1. A 5-step process for tackling digital clutter.
  2. A real life example of what Sustainable Sue does each week to tackle digital clutter.
  3. The SMART way to tackle any habit change.

Listen at the link below or search for “Sustainable Productivity with Susan Sanders” everywhere podcasts are available.

Links to Learn More

Here is the list I work from each session of digital clean up. Not to mention… graph paper to do list for the win!

Links mentioned in this episode of the Sustainable Productivity podcast:

We would love to hear from you. Send your feedback on the episode, suggestions for future show topics or guests, and anything else to Susan@SustainableSue.com or in a DM on Instagram.

By |2023-08-14T08:31:01-04:00August 14th, 2023|Show Notes|0 Comments

Why I Don’t Track Phone Usage

People are surprised to learn that don’t track phone usage. We are still in January – the month that has 8,064 days in it. Many of those days we are bombarded with messages that we need to change just about everything about our lives in order to become a better person. 

One of those hot resolution topics is how much we are on our phones. I have zero interest in this goal during this season of my life. 

I was working on some digital clean up and found the setting on my phone where it outlined how much time I spent using my phone. On my Android phone it is called, “Digital wellbeing and parental controls.” This title really caught my eye because digital clutter is a component of Environmental Surroundings – one of the three pillars of Sustainable Productivity. 

So I tiptoed into this section with more than a small amount of hesitancy – it can be hard to have your habits shown to you in cold hard data. But alas, what is measured is managed so in I went.


There was no “MOVE THAT BUS” big reveal. It was pretty much what I expected with a few pleasant surprises added in. 

The truth is I use my phone a lot. But it is used for good as much as it is used for evil. Of the time spent that day, there was a greater percentage of time spent to support positive habits and activities. Here are a few examples:

Supporting Good Habits

  • Audiobook apps: I listen to audiobooks while walking the dog, doing my physical therapy exercises, folding laundry, driving, and more. 
  • Spotify: While writing I need some ambient noise and instrumental playlists on Spotify provide this. 
  • Timehop: As part of my morning routine I look through Timehop to see what this day in history brought me (plus a little trivia). I often share the photos that come up with the people in them. It is fun to share with the kids and it often spurs conversation about what was happening in the memories. 
  • Alexa / Google Home: Each day Bixby and I use the Jeopardy skill to play our daily “J!6” over breakfast. Although it is still surprising to hear Mayim Byalik instead of Alex Trebek, it is a fun ritual we have over breakfast every day. 


  • Apple Music: Sometimes while drafting spreadsheets, closing support tickets, and updating meeting notes for my day job I just need a little hype to get moving. My “Mix Tape” playlist on my phone provides this.
  • Clock: I use timers, alarms, and stopwatch features all day long. Timers to write or stretch for a certain amount of time. I have been using the stopwatch to time manuscripts I’m writing for YouTube videos. Alarms are set to put the laundry in the dryer or leave on time to get to the class at the quilt shop.
  • Reminders: This is another feature that I could not be Sustainable Sue without. I don’t want to keep stuff in my head any more. I set a reminder to floss and do my gratitude journal at night. Other reminders nudge me for several activities for my elderly dad throughout the week. The “set it and forget it” approach clears space in my brain for creativity instead of the invisible work life gifts us. 

Social Media

Let’s talk about the elephant in the living room. I do use social media for more than just posting for Sustainable Sue business. I consume it as well. But I am clear about my purpose when I am opening these apps: mainly entertainment,  connection, distraction. I know very clearly that when I am wading into Twitter at the end of a long day that I am just going for the train wreck. No one is more delighted than me to hang up from a contentious phone call at my day job and scroll Instagram Reels looking for videos of pandas somersaulting down a snowy hill. 

Sometimes I catch myself just scrolling for the sake of scrolling – sometimes our thumbs have a mind of their own, right!? When I notice, I acknowledge (not shame) and close the app. 

Sustainable You Questions

I share all of this to float the idea that just because others preach social media breaks and analog living, does not mean that you have to. You get to decide what is best for you. In order to do that you need to be aware. I encourage you to apply the Sustainable Productivity questions to your phone use. 

  1. Is it productive – are you getting the result you want?
  2. Is it sustainable – can you continue this pace lifelong if you choose?

Based on the answers to these questions you can start to make small adjustments to those habits. Connect with me directly to learn more about how to do that or let me know how your phone usage is impacting your life. 

If this weekly essay resonated with you, please share it with a friend. I am trying to grow Sustainable Sue and spread the ideas of Sustainable Productivity. The best way to do that is for you to share with someone you know. 

Until next time –

By |2023-01-11T07:51:27-05:00January 17th, 2023|Environmental Surroundings|0 Comments

10 Ideas to Conquer Digital Clutter

One of my goals for 2021 is to conquer digital clutter. That is a vague, ambiguous goal so I set a more specific, measurable goal to clear the digital clutter from my phone weekly. Generally my digital clutter falls into three categories: photos, notes, and websites. Here are ten ideas in these categories that will help you reduce the digital clutter.


This is the largest bit of digital clutter I have – and I bet most of you are in the same boat. Right now I have 685 photos on my phone. It is overwhelming to go back and declutter all of them so I am starting where I am. Each week I deal with those photos I took in the previous week. There are a few of the actions that you can take.

  1. Delete. I cannot be the only one who tries to carry too many things and ends up taking photos of the side of the car. Or trying to get a cute photo of the dog sleeping, I end up with 10 of the same snoozing pup. Delete the obvious, narrow down the precious.
  2. File. Screenshots fall into this category. Some examples might be the screen shots of books I want to read or products I might want to purchase. Each week I add to my To Be Read list on Goodreads, buy the item if is a no brainer, or add it to my Amazon wish list.
  3. Inspiration. Quotes, ideas, or other inspiration I want to use for Sustainable Sue work goes to Trello or Scrivener. Trello is a project management app where I can create a “card” with the quote (or whatever I took a photo of) and add it to the board. For example, the board might be quotes on digital clutter I could use in a post about the same topic. Then when I want to write about digital clutter, I pull that quote off of my Trello board and place it in the post.
  4. Save. Some photos I save for scrapbooking – these live in Lightroom. Each week I put a heart (on my iPhone – I bet Android has an equivalent) on those photos I want to save. On the first day of each month, I have a reminder that pops up telling me to move photos to Lightroom. I don’t have to scroll through 600+, I just get the hearts and move them to Lightroom and then delete from my phone once Lightroom is backed up.
  5. Share. I share memes and old photos with friends and family. Here is a gem that came up this week of me and The Girl back in the day.


This is the digital equivalent of Post It notes.I keep notes in a couple places on my phone so decluttering my notes is a critical component to conquer digital clutter.

  1. Lists. When I am driving down the road and need to capture a thought, I ask Siri to capture it and she adds it to my “Braindump list.” This is a catch all that is sorted at least weekly. Sometimes I add things to my calendar, sometimes things move to another list, sometimes things are deleted because I have no idea what I meant.
  2. Notepad. This is another catchall spot that builds up. If I hear something meaningful I want to remember later I will open the Notes app and jot it down. Same with a website I want to check out later from a webinar I am watching or perhaps shared notes. But these notes are not helpful if they just live in the Notes app. Weekly I move them to a place that is more useful. This might look like any of these:
    • Set a time block in the upcoming week to review the website.
    • Move the quote to a Trello board.
    • Delete the idea that seemed brilliant in the middle of the night, but seems useless in the light of day.


This is a recent pain point for me. I am not sure when my browser got so out of control. Today I have 64 windows open. Experts disagree on if this impacts your phones performance or not. What I am interested in is whether or not this is Sustainably Productive. When you shine the lens of sustainability on 64 open Chrome tabs – no big deal. But the productive side of the equation is different. I can’t find a ding dang thing amidst 64 open windows. Not productive.

“Clutter is not just the stuff on your floor – it’s anything that stands between you and the life you want to be living.” Peter Walsh

For this task I set a timer as part of my weekly digital declutter session. 5 minutes to close windows. I start with the most recent and close. I look at the website that is open before closing it in case there is an action step I needed to take.  For example, I may have left the window open because I was halfway through paying for an online meal pick up for the week when the doorbell rang and I forgot to go back to it. Some windows are quick – when Facebook opens in Chrome, for example. No brainer – close it, I would rather use the app.

I would love to help you conquer digital clutter. Check out the Sustainable You Environmental Surroundings course to learn more today.

By |2021-01-23T18:47:55-05:00January 26th, 2021|Environmental Surroundings|0 Comments
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