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Digital Decluttering

When I get stressed or anxious, I like to clean and declutter. It’s my way of trying to exert a little control over a situation, when I don’t feel so in control. This past weekend was one of those times. I tried to relax and watch a little TV, but I found myself unable to sit still and the next thing I know, I’m sweeping and moping, and then closing out internet accounts and deleting files off my external hard drive.

I’m pretty tidy when it comes to digital clutter. I keep my inbox clean, I have different email alias to compartmentalize different accounts, and I keep things in folders. Where things get sloppy is usually my Reading List folder which is my sort of “catch-all.” Links, articles, reviews, you name it, and it ends up there. Then every month or so, I go in and either consume the links or delete them. Occasionally, I leave an old link or two to deal with next time.

I’ve discovered when I do this, these links to live in my Reading List or Favorites for months at a time. It’s only when I realize that I have no true interest in reading them, because if I did, I would have already done so. So, I go ahead and delete them.

I’m beginning to take this approach with media I have saved too. I’ve done it for a while on my various streaming network queues, but now I’m attacking the files I store and save on my external hard drive. Books, comics, movies, and television shows are all saved for various purposes. My number one reason for hanging onto so many digital pieces of media is this ongoing battle I have with the idea of something being lost and I don’t have access to it. I hoard this data, just in case, one day, it’s no longer streaming, or I don’t have my physical media.

It bothers me that I find myself so consumed with this idea, so I’m always working on it. For example, I have all of the TV show Raising Hope saved on my hard drive. I watched it last year and I loved it, but recently I went back to watch it some more and I realized, it was a one-time watch for me. So, why do I hang onto it? In case ten years down the road I want to watch it again? How is that any different than someone who hangs onto newspapers or magazines in case they want to read them again in ten years outside of the space required to hoard?

So… I took a big step, and I just did some mass deleting. I haven’t deleted everything, but I deleted a ton. I dumped my entire movie folder and half of my television shows. I gutted my books a month or so ago and left only books in the series I’m currently reading: Jack Reacher, Bosch, and Joe Pickett.

I’m currently digging through old blog posts worth saving and porting over here, that way I can delete those files too. It’s weird, but I feel a bit bogged down by all this digital clutter and it’s really getting old. I’m ready to unshackle myself from this ridiculous notion that I’m responsible for saving all this stuff.

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