Oh clutter. It’s everywhere. I can’t get away from it even though I’ve managed to remove 50% of the junk from my life. It sneaks up behind you and jumps out from every corner. When it’s jumping out from your laptop, you know it’s time to axe a few things.
The latest craze with junk is determining if it gives you joy. For me, the answer is usually no, but for those like my frugal dad, he enjoys rolling in it. The basement makes me cringe every time I go downstairs. I either want to start cleaning uncontrollably or set fire to it all. I’ve gone so far as to beg my father to start purging it all. Not to be insensitive but I usually tell him, I don’t want to be doing this when you die. Not a nice way to remember your dad. If that doesn’t work, I throw in “you should be enjoying these things now or get rid of them.”
Sadly, neither tactic has worked and I receive a terse: “I don’t have the time.”
Well, that’s been nipped in the bud. So I get back to focusing on my junk. If I can’t organize someone else’s junk or help them see the light, well, how about I finish off the last bit of my own crap.
The other non-physical form of clutter in my life happens to be newsletters, multiple email accounts, social media, Feedly RSS feeds, and enough bookmarks to sink the Titanic – again. Between this blog and my regular email, I get double the email joy. Is Wrigley’s still around? There’s an idea for a modern Double mint gum commercial, a frantic blogger trying to keep up with two email accounts.
After reading Cait’s post, You Can’t Read, Watch and Do Everything, I decided that it was finally time to tackle the digital clutter head on. Like Cait, I am endlessly frustrated by the stack of books I take out from the library, to only have them sit in a pile in my bedroom/office/living room. They sit, never read, and then I renew them 5 times, only to take them back in frustration at not having read them. Apparently I have delusions of grandeur at how many books I can read in a week. The same goes for my digital life. I bookmark blog posts, websites, jobs, etc. only to have them sit and rot in Google Chrome’s Favorites. Maybe I’ll read them later, or, maybe I’ll forget I even bookmarked them because I’m on to the next thing I’m bookmarking. See? Nasty cycle. You never get ahead that way.
3 Steps to Clear Digital Clutter
When I’m feeling overwhelmed by my inbox, browser bookmarks or files in my computer, I follow this simple three step process to clear digital clutter from my life.
- The Quick Sweep. Fantastically, I managed to get through the first purge fairly quickly. I unsubscribed from all those email newsletters I wasn’t reading and left only the ones I really make time to read. Next, I did a quick sweep through my bookmarks and removed all the obvious ones that I no longer needed. A handy tool to help with email clutter: Unroll.me. It collects everything you’re subscribed to in one place and allows you to unsubscribe, roll them up, or keep in your inbox. Instead of getting all the emails individually, you get a daily rollup of your email subscriptions that you receive that day.
- The Click, Check and Delete. The second purge involved getting much more detailed. This took a bit of time. I went through bookmarks to determine if a) they still linked to something and b) it was something relevant for me to read/keep. Upon inspection, most were no longer needed or had already been read and never deleted. When purging files, I keep a folder called OLD where I move files I’m doubtful of. Sometimes a girl has to keep multiple copies of her resume, you know, just in case.
- Be Ruthless Girl! The third purge, yes that’s three, involved me being ruthless. I still had way too many bookmarks at this point. How to tie a scarf like a French girl? Really? That’s going. Better yet, the whole folder “Garbage” is gone. For those of you that don’t know, it houses all the fashion retailers that I used to frequent. Gone. Just like that. DELETE. By the time I was done (several hours later I might add), I had removed 60% of the useless bookmarks I once had. This is also the perfect time to create new folders or update them to house the bookmarks and/or files you’re keeping.
That, my friends, is the magic of the delete button and how to get your digital clutter under control.
And no, I have not read The Magic of Tidying Up – Yet. It’s on my holds list at the library. *Update: I tried reading it and didn’t like it. Anyone else feel the same way?
When’s the last time you cleaned up your digital clutter?
I think I’ll tackle my iPhone next. *Shudder*