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TIPS - Organize your digital life: 8 smart tips



Europeans are spending more and more time in the digital world. Large-scale studies in Belgium and the Netherlands (such as those by Comeva and CBS) and Great Britain (including by British mobile telephone provider O2) confirm it.


Belgians simply cannot and will not live without the Internet and smartphones, while the Dutch are using mobile Internet at unprecedented levels. And… the Brits even devote 22 more minutes each day to their smartphones than to their partners. All this calls for a new approach to time management.


Get started with these 8 smart tips from life & business coach, professional organizer and motivational speaker, published author Sara Van Wesenbeeck  to regain control of your digital life and save yourself a lot of time.


The impact on our organization

Professional organizer and life & business coach Sara Van Wesenbeeck helps people to simplify their lives, at home and at work. “In my practice, I tend to see the other face of the medal. The digital ‘boom’ has brought many advantages, but it also has a big impact on the organization of our lives and work. The wide range of choices and the infinite, often unstructured  ‘exploration’ that's possible in the digital world, is above all taking a large bite out of our time. Which can throw our time and self-management off balance, and can lead to chaos in our entire lives.”


New balance

Now that we are interacting more than ever on social networks, and our computers and smartphones are overflowing with digital information, there's a growing need to create order in our digital world. Because, you must admit, our digital lives can truly become a mess, with a lot of wasted time, frustration and stress as result. We also need to find a new balance between our online and ‘offline’ activities.

Sara Van Wesenbeeck: “All these digital tools and possibilities ought to simplify things and make our lives easier– and they do – but at the same time they also generate a lot of extra chaos, digital clutter and stress. Fortunately, there are smart solutions such as good planning and structuring, keeping an eye on your time management and giving your online activities a well-defined place in your life and work. This way, you can regain control of your life, not only online but ‘offline’ too.”




TIP 1 - Don't give digital temptation a chance

Make sure that during your work day, you concentrate on your work. But if you find it difficult, if not to say impossible to withstand digital temptation, then chances are that you'll still be working at the times when you really should be relaxing. This is detrimental to both your work and your family life and it's a vicious circle that leads to a lot of stress. In other words, it's better to do your surfing or Facebook checking in your free time; when you're at work, you should only do it when necessary. Or turn off your digital tools once in a while and go do something (else) fun instead.


TIP 2 - Outwit your online time drains with smart time management

Internet, e-mail and mobile phones are huge time drains. Often you'll be online wasting (precious) time, at exactly those moments when you should be working productively. This type of unplanned (and sometimes long) interruptions leads to ineffective, unfocussed and unproductive activities. And a whole lot of unnecessary stress. Here are some tips to prevent this:

  • Set a limit for yourself in advance for the time you want to spend on the Internet and stick to it.
  • Are you (a bit too much of) a Facebook fan? Make a commitment to log in at a single, regular time of day for maximum half an hour, for example.
  • E-mailing, logging into your favorite news site, Facebook, chatting ... should be done at times when your energy level is lower, so not at the start of your (work)day.


TIP 3 - Plan and group

Group your digital activities as much as possible. Always schedule the blocks of time you want to spend online in your diary. It will bring you more time, efficiency and enjoyment than constantly switching between your online and offline activities.


TIP 4 - Keep a finger on the (digital) pulse and organize your online activities

Are you active on different social networks, do you lose track and end up spending a lot of time forwarding messages? Organize your online activities and find a tool, for example, that lets you easily manage everything and share all your information, photos, audio and pictures with your contacts on social networks, at the touch of a button.


TIP 5 - Tidy up your PC

Your PC(s), laptop(s) too… are probably overdue for a thorough cleanup. Tackle the job in the same way as you would clean your desk. Create order on your desktop: remove unnecessary shortcuts. Take a look at your folders: do you have a clear folder structure, which ones can you delete? Clean up your documents: toss all the drafts in the trash. Make a backup.


TIP 6: Tidy up your mailbox - E-mailing is by far one of the biggest time drains in our online lives because we find ourselves doing it day and night; from now on, take a smarter approach. A crash course: create a clear folder structure, learn to work with an empty inbox, open each mail just once and immediately decide what to do with it, turn off the sound signal for incoming mail to get rid of distraction and keep your focus on the task at hand. Save yourself a lot of time by processing your mails in groups, 2 to 3 times a day, instead of each time one lands in your mailbox. Only read your mails at work and not at home.


TIP 6 - Give your smartphone a cleanup too

Your mobile phone or smartphone: here again, the key is order and structure. Delete all unnecessary messages and contacts. Organize your photos, music, files… And do it regularly, for example, during those so-called ‘wasted’ moments: while waiting for a client, in the doctor's waiting room, in the car waiting to pick up your kids from school…


TIP 8 - Balancing on the (digital) tightrope, it pays off

Remember that your computer, smartphone and all those services and online tools are there to ‘work’ for you. They are there to make your life easier and increase your efficiency and productivity. Not to create more chaos, clutter and stress. So don't bite off more than you can chew. Take care of how you spend your time and find a good balance between your offline and online activities. It will bring you nothing but benefits: less stress, more order and balance, more time to spend with your loved ones and to enjoy the finer things in life.



You'll find more smarts tips from professional organizer and life & business coach Sara Van Wesenbeeck for personal effectiveness and time management  in 'The smart organizing book' (published by Lannoo Publishers Ltd.) and on this website.



Make this year your best ever! Organize yourself, your family, your time, your life, your work.


Sara Van Wesenbeeck is life & business coach, professional organizer, trainer in personal effectiveness, motivational speaker and author of 'The smart organizing book' and 'The smart book on clever spending' (published by Lannoo Publishers Ltd., at the moment only available in Dutch).


Sara can coach you to find smarter ways to manage yourself, your time, your family, your budget, your life and your work, so that you can live with less stress, more balance and more time for the finer things in life.


Sara is European Ambassador for Female Entrepreneurship, on behalf of the European Commission. She is also a Mentor for women entrepreneurs for the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and for the ESF-project ‘WE MentorCoach’.


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