The Mommy Files: Clearing the Digital Clutter
Clutter. It’s such a dirty word.
When I think of the world “clutter,” I imagine houses strewn with toys. Basements filled with odds and ends.
I pretty much envision my house. Given that we have two kids, two dogs, and we’re both running businesses essentially out of our homes, to say that we have a little clutter isn’t a stretch.
But I’m not talking about the magazines all over the coffee table or the puzzles that are pieced together on the playroom floor. I’m talking about digital clutter. The kind that’s clogging your inbox. Overflowing your digital hard drive. The stuff that’s probably making you just a little bit crazy.
Here’s how mine looks. I just deleted a ton of files that I no longer needed. Twice in the last week I’ve done this. The numbers? More than 2,000 individual files, gone. My inbox? More than 5,000 emails … and that’s just my gMail; my business inbox and my Hotmail account is a whole different story.
Now, in my defense, since I’m the writer at Smart Mom Deals, I get a lot of emails each day about deals and sales. Usually from the title, I can tell if it’s something I want to investigate for readers or just skip entirely.
My biggest issue is that I don’t always click “delete” when I should. But there are also companies that email me deals that I never open for one reason or another. So they just sit.
I thought I was alone in this until I saw a friend’s post on Facebook the other day; it was simply a screen shot of her inbox that showed more than 2,000 emails with the caption “I guess it’s time to clean it out.” Which made me think I was most definitely not alone in the world of digital clutter.
Add to that the fact that my Mac was acting like a stubborn three year old, dragging it’s feet every time I asked it to do something, and I knew things had to change.
So I thought I’d start going through it all, and pass along tips and tricks I’m finding along the way.
First, the 25 Areas of Digital Clutter to Minimize. This article at becomingminimalist.com helped me to really focus on what I wanted to remove.
Do I really use Twitter? No. Do I really need to know what all 500+ of my Facebook friends are doing? No. What about all those snippets I’ve bookmarked to “read later”? Am I ever going to get it done? Not likely. Delete, delete, and delete.
Then I headed to LifeHacker. Initially this was to find the best way to clean up my Mac and give it back some of it’s life … after all, it’s only a year old, it shouldn’t be slow.
Here I came across the best ways to clear out my music and digital movie collections. It’s true that with the discovery of Spotify, I use iTunes less and less. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I purchased music from iTunes to keep “forever.”
My email inboxes are the last thing on my list to conquer. Mostly because I truly fear deleting something that I really need. But here’s the reality; I know that if I had a physical envelope on my counter to represent every email I have across three inboxes (I finally tallied them, and we’re nearing 10,000 unread emails) I would set fire to the pile and walk away. Really, I would.
I found this article at The Root, which directed me to the program Revive Your Inbox by the company Baydin. They offer a 21-day program that is supposed to help change the way you deal with your inbox. Each day, you get an email (there’s a bit of irony there, no?) with a to-do list of things you need to get done.
The key here is that their to-do list of decluttering shouldn’t take you more than 20 minutes. Period. In their estimation, the average person receives nearly 147 emails each day and spends 2.5 hours reading and responding to them. So in my head, 20 minutes is really a drop in the pond, ya know?
I’m only in the infancy stages of the program, but it’s like an Email-aholics Anonymous; it gently guides you but gives you some hard facts that make you look at things and go, “aha. That makes sense.” Once I’ve gone all the way through, I’ll write a review and let you all know my final thoughts.
Here’s to a digital-clutter free 2013. Who’s with me?