March 19 marks the first day of spring. It’s also marks a very common annual activity: household spring cleaning.
While we don’t know the exact origins of the term “spring cleaning,” it’s thought to date back hundreds of years. Spring cleaning represents a total focus on organization and cleaning either as a way to celebrate winter being over or to get ready for the new year. Or both.
Years ago, it was fine that spring cleaning was confined to our homes. Today, we have a lot more spring cleaning to do than just curtains, rugs and windows. Our relationship with technology requires us to add a few more things to our spring-cleaning list. Here are six to consider:
1. Tax records. In the U.S., spring also represents tax season. The Internal Revenue Service website offers suggested guidelines for how long you should retain your tax records in case of an audit. Older tax records should be properly discarded to avoid any risk of identity theft. Another thing to consider is having electronic copies of your tax returns in case you need them for credit or a major purchase.
2. Product instructions and warranties. Every time we purchase something, it comes with a set of instructions and, in many cases, a warranty. One way to store these items is by creating file folders for each room of your home and keeping the instructions and warranty in the folder where the item is located. Once a year, go through the folders and discard any warranties and instructions for items you no longer own. Oh, and consider keeping a separate folder for your auto with any maintenance receipts. It’ll come in handy if and when you decide to sell or trade the car.
3. Computer files. You can do this one for work and home. Over time, our computers collect a lot of files we no longer need. And our computers would run better if we deleted all those old files. If you’re concerned you might possibly need something after you delete it, set up a temporary folder for yourself called DELETE 12.31.2020 and put the files in there. At the end of the year, if you haven’t even tried to find something in that folder … well, maybe it’s okay to delete those files.
4. Apps, music, movies and games. Remember that old Apple commercial, “There’s an app for that”? Well, another thing we tend to collect are apps. And those apps take up storage space on our devices. Not to mention sometimes (sadly) developers abandon their apps and they just don’t work anymore. So, whether you’re using iOS or Android, find time to clean out old music, movies, apps and games you’re just not using anymore. Your devices will thank you for it.
5. Social media accounts. Remember when all your friends were joining that new social media platform, so you signed up too? And then no one used it? Have you heard Google is sunsetting Google+ in the near future? Now is the perfect time to clean up your social media. Close accounts you’re not using and update your profile on the accounts you are using.
6. Passwords. As responsible technology users, we must create strong passwords and regularly update them. This can be a major thorn in the side, but it’s absolutely necessary for our safety and security. Spend some time thinking about a process for creating, storing and changing passwords. The good news is there are online password storage solutions like LastPass, 1Password, and Keeper that can assist with helping you create and remember the new secure passwords.
If tackling all these spring-cleaning projects — in addition to the house ones ¬— seems daunting, then come up with your own schedule. Maybe this is fall cleaning. Or since most of them are indoors, they could be a winter project. The important thing to remember is to put these items on a regular “to-do” list. Because if they get out of control, they’ll be so much harder to clean up.
Spring cleaning is never fun and games, but there’s a feeling of satisfaction that comes when the job is done. Being organized feels good and it might help you enjoy spring just a little more.