When March hits, campus changes. The quads transform from browns and grays to lush greens—from the sounds of quiet shuffling from building to building to lively chatter and the sound of bike wheels against pavement. With spring comes warmer weather, more sun, vibrant colors, and for many of us, a spring cleaning. Spring break is the perfect opportunity for this—not just for a physical declutter, but a digital one too.
Mid-semester, much of our digital workspaces may become cluttered with emails, files, videos, apps, and messages we won’t reach for again. These items take up space, can be overwhelming, and can take up time and energy every time we navigate through our digital spaces to find something we need. Below is a list of some essential technology spring cleaning tips to simplify and optimize your digital space to refresh for spring.
Clear your online storage
U of I Box. Our cloud-based storage service is free for all students, faculty, and staff at the university. With unlimited file storage, it’s easy to let files pile up. Take some time to declutter your U of I Box account to ultimately save time and reduce visual stressors.
Google Drive. Personal free Google Drive storage accounts do not have unlimited storage. Take some time to sort through files you don’t need and remove or archive them to free up space and save time navigating through your Drive.
Clear your computer storage
Take some time to clear out your downloads folder, old screenshots, and other files on your desktop that you no longer need. Most computers have a built-in application to help you see what’s taking up most of your storage and show you what you can clear away.
- Mac: System Preferences > General > Storage — Here, you can see which applications or files take up the most storage and delete it directly from the pop-up menu.
- Windows: Start > Settings > System > Storage — Here, you’ll see cleanup recommendations, or you can opt to turn on Storage Sense to allow your computer to clear up unnecessary files automatically.
Clear your Skype for Business contacts to prepare to move to Microsoft Teams
Starting May 17, the university’s primary communication and collaboration tool will change from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams. Take some time to clear out your old contacts from Skype for Business and move them to Teams to prepare for the move.
Skype for Business contacts are stored on a cloud-server, not on your computer, so uninstalling the application won’t remove contacts. To clear these, access your Skype for Business application and remove them. It’s also best practice to check for those same contacts in your email application and remove them there too if appropriate. Any contacts that are not deleted will be migrated to Microsoft Teams in May.
Clear your mobile device
Uninstall your unused apps and delete your unwanted photos, files, and messages. To check what’s taking up the most space on your mobile device, follow your device’s steps below:
- iPhone: Settings > General > iPhone Storage — Here, you can see which apps are taking up the most space, view large attachments, and easily clear out all items you aren’t using.
- Samsung: Settings > Battery and Device Care > Storage — Here, you can see what is taking up the most storage and clear out the files. To uninstall apps, follow these instructions: Settings > Apps > Tap not he App to Remove > Uninstall.
- Android: Settings > Storage > Free Up Space — Here, Google Files will give you the option to launch its “Clean” feature, which offers specific recommendations on ways to free up space for your phone. To go directly to clean up the apps, follow these instructions: Storage > Apps > Clear Storage or Clear Cache — Here, you can find information on what apps are taking up the most space, and access ways to clean uninstall or clean them up.
Clear your browsers
Your web browsers store your login information, cookies, browsing history, and much more of your data. It’s important to periodically clear your browser to protect your personal information.
Reorganize your digital spaces
Check your folders (online storage and on your computer) for overlapping topics, consolidate when needed, rename/regroup files appropriately, and create new folders for floating files. Maintaining organization is key to ensuring your digital spaces stay fresh throughout the school year. Some different ways to organize and label your folders:
- By semester or school year: Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Freshman Year
- By course: ATMS 120, CLCV 115, Forensic Science
- By topic: Personal, Academic, Extracurricular, Job Search
Don’t be afraid to create folders within folders as an extra organization step.
Update your software
Keep your devices up-to-date with the latest software updates. Keeping your devices up-to-date is essential to fix potential security breaches and other bugs to ensure maximal performance. Since we’re always on our devices, it can be hard to take time away from our technology to allow them to update. Spring break can be the perfect time to update your devices while taking a step away from them.