Five Ways to Cut Digital Clutter

Professional organizers call it digital hoarding.  Just because we can keep more data doesn’t mean we should.  Here are tips to make your digital life more manageable:

1. Live on one screen

Make it a goal to have a file structure, desktop,
electronic notepad, or whatever  you use fit on just one screen.  Use your preferred device’s own structure to create folders or grouped icons so that you can see your inventory/main headings without having to scroll or tap.  Incredibly complex data may require a second screen, but decide if it is worth it.  The more visual stimuli your brain has to process, the slower you will be. Think of your screens as a container (like a box) for an amount of data that you can comfortably manage, not a blank slate for all available cool apps.  It’s the same principle as keeping only the amount of files in your office that you can fit in your filing cabinet; left unchecked, chaos reduces productivity.

2.  Don’t be an early adopter

Yeah, it’s cool, but what will that really cost you?  Early adopters spend more in money, time and frustration working out the bugs for the rest of us.  The first iPhone in 2007 sold for $599; today the much improved iPhone 4 sells for $199.
Approximately 5% of the mobile handsets are Apple iPhones, which means that 95% of the world saved about $400 plus hours, days or weeks of learning time.

3. Digital Overload  is normal

Be weird.  If you always respond to email, texts, Facebook and Twitter, then people will expect you to respond to them. You train your network.  Inc. Magazine wrote about David Karp, founder of Tumblr, in June 2011 and his method of handling email. Two things are interesting. First, he reverse filters, meaning everything goes into a folder that he doesn’t read, and the folder he looks at only has emails from his
employees and girlfriend. Second, he’s right on that if you condition people to
expect that you don’t read email, they’ll get to you another way.

4. Admit Digital Addiction

If you have an addictive personality, knowing this may save your life.  Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows; What the Internet Is Doing To Our Brains, describes what the research tells us about the immense pleasure and gratification that our limbic brain gets from
electronic activity, including twitter, texting, and blogs.  People today may need to create physical or other barriers to access this stimuli.  Texting while driving is a well-known danger, and yet the problem persists.  Nationwide’s survey showed that 80% of drivers favor a ban on mobile use while driving, despite the fact that up to 60% of people admit to texting behind the wheel.  Or do as I say, not as I do?  Curbing or eliminating addictive behavior such as texting and emailing on the road may literally save a life.

5. Print your pictures

Here’s  a novel idea.   Instead of keeping thousands of poorly labeled digital pics, create a special family photo album once a year using commercial services like Shutterfly, Snapfish, and hundreds of others locally and on the internet who will print and bind your treasures. Then  you can delete all the photos of marginal quality, re-label any that have incomprehensible computer-assigned labels using a single year or topic file name, and set those aside on your hard drive.  These make great  gifts, but you already knew that.

What makes your digital life more simple?  We’d all love to hear.