In part 1 and part 2 of this series I discussed what digital spring cleaning means and how I got started.
In this 3rd part I want to further deep dive into one of the most comprehensive tasks of this project I went through: Keeping up with all my website log-ins.
What does this mean
Do you know how many log-ins you have? Do you know how many websites, apps, services you’re registered for?
You DO? Great! I did NOT! And it was horrifying.
What I did know was how many services I paid for monthly, or yearly. But that was actually a small number.
The big ones come to mind: Netflix for streaming, Apple Music (or Spotify) for example.
But what about all „free“ sites and apps, you’ve registered for in the past with all your personal data which is now floating around online. I’ve lost count of all of these.
Now you’re maybe thinking: Why do all this in the first place?
Well, I wanted to get an overview of ideally everything I was registered for, log-in, signed-in, subscribed to, and so on. A huge task, I know. And pretty much impossible because I would never remember everything anyways. And that’s true. I didn’t. But it was still worth it to start with this digital spring cleaning.
I had two advantages to tackle this problem:
Firstly I use a password manager. Actually two: Safari keychain & 1Password.
Why is that an advantage? Because I already have a lot of log-ins I use somewhat frequently added to those two password managers. So there was my first list of things to go through.
Secondly I have already kept a kind-of up-to-date list with many services I wanted to get rid of in the future anyways since I had already imagined doing this digital spring cleaning someday.
So I started: Is went through my password managers (by the way: everyone should use one!) and deleted all accounts I hadn’t really used in the last few month or even years. While doing that I actually discovered how many services make it very hard to delete your information/accounts in the first place.
With some it’s easy: You go to the „settings„-section and there is a „delete account“ menu item. But for others it’s way more complex. With a few you just see an option like „deactivate“ your account. That is NOT what I wanted. I wanted to delete all my personal data. In those cases you would sometimes have to write an email with the explicit wish to delete your account.
With others at last there are no real options to delete everything. And that’s a shame. I think in our day and age it should be mandatory for any company, service, app & else to have an option for deletion of personal data. Completely. Without restrictions. And an easy way to do so at best.
What I was left with after this last step of my digital spring cleaning was a nicely reduced and organised list of websites, apps, services, and more within my password manager of choice.
During this process I also changed all my passwords to long, safer ones, recommend by the password manager itself. You should always use long passwords and different ones for each account, of course. And if you’re really good at this you should change all passwords frequently, like – let’s say – once every 6 months or yearly.
I addition to this fine list within my password manager I also kept a simple note list in Apple notes with just the names of all services, accounts, websites. Of course NEVER store your passwords there.
This note just helps with a quick overview of all I have & use. If I create a new account somewhere it goes into the list in Apple notes. If I remove one I’ll remove it there as well. You get the gist.
What I have
So what do I actually have left?
That is a long list … still. Because in this day and age, as a kind of techy person, and with a job in tech, as well as some hobbies related to tech, I need a lot of accounts online, because I USE a lot of stuff online. And that’s fine. This process of digital minimalism was never about deleting all that stuff. It was about getting all of it organised.
I am left with a list of 131 items in my password manager. That includes website log-ins, app log-ins but also credit cards, some numbers like social security and stuff, Wifi passwords for home & work.
That may or may not sound like a high number. I think it is a very good number for me. All of those items are things I really use or need. So I am happy.
So I went through all my paper files, scanned them, organised them, got rid of a lot and now have just one folder at home and everything else neatly formatted in the cloud.
I’ve gone through all social media accounts and email accounts to get rid of everything I don’t use anymore.
And I sorted all my log-ins, changed all passwords and keep a list in my password manager and a simple note.
That was my digital spring cleaning process. It took time. But it was worth it for me.
When I now need a document I have it there on the go. I am now conscious about my social media networks and I am on top of my passwords and accounts. A pretty nice start to the minimalism journey.