“It’s important to keep your digital ‘stuff’ . . . organized to save you time. And it’s equally as important to get rid of files you no longer need.”
- Joshua Fields Milburn, The Minimalists
Most of us tend to focus more on physical clutter than digital clutter simply because physical clutter is visible, takes up room in our homes and needs dusting.
But it’s important to declutter your computer (as well as your tablet, e-reader, smart phone, etc.) regularly. Depending on how much stuff you have, this can save you money, since it may keep you from having to replace a device just to get more storage.
More importantly, it makes things a lot easier to find, and, when you do need a new computer or other device, a lot easier and faster to transfer the files.
“Organizing things is a great habit…But it’s not enough. The only way organization can be truly effective is if you’re willing to stop owning so many things.”
-Josh Rueff, Living Apex
I’ve been thinking about this subject quite a bit lately, since I have two big digital clutter projects going on now, photos and MP3s.
Everything is already pretty well organized. The problem is, we have too much. It doesn’t matter how organized the files are, having photos we never look at and music we never listen to is just plain silly.
“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”
- Henri Cartier-Bresson
My husband and I have had digital cameras since the fall of 2002, and we both love taking photographs. The first few years’ worth aren’t too bad. Remember when memory cards came in sizes like 128 megabytes?
Then they slowly moved up to 500 megabytes, then a gigabyte, and now my camera has a 16G card. Between us, we shot thousands of photos just on our week-long vacation this past summer.
Obviously, we can delete most of these. We’re pretty good about deleting all the obviously awful ones right away (forgot the flash or it’s all fuzzy), but not so good about choosing our favorites of the shots that are good.
We don’t need 12 shots of the same scene – we just need to take the time to go through and see which ones came out best.
It wouldn’t be too bad if we’d kept up with this task, but we have many years worth, which is tens of thousands of photos. Since I’m no good at tackling big projects, I just try to go in every few days and do a folder’s worth of photos.
“Songs and smells will bring you back to a moment in time more than anything else. It’s amazing how much can be conjured with a few notes of a song or a solitary whiff of a room.”
- Emily Giffin
We have music we never listen to. Some, the kids outgrew – thankfully, we no longer have to listen to Barney or High School Musical. We also have free songs from Starbucks and other stuff we downloaded but never really liked.
And I’m pretty sure we’re not the only people who unthinkingly uploaded a whole album when we really only liked one or two songs from it.
My husband and I have our MP3s on a shared computer, so for the last few weeks, every few days we try to get together and go through some of the music to see what we agree we can delete. We’ve now gotten through the “O” artists, working our way through the alphabet.
What type of digital clutter is the biggest problem for you?
These are our two biggest space-hogs on the computer. There are other areas that need decluttering as well, but I thought we may as well start with the worst areas first. What are you biggest problem areas?