While concentrating on purging physical and digital clutter from the nooks and crannies of my life, I’ve been a bit overwhelmed by the glut of stuff I own or have access to. The picture of a closet or dresser overstuffed with…stuff…is classic, easy to understand. But in the digital realm, where things may be more abstract, less tangible, I’ve realized that in order to clear such clutter, I’ve got to think hard about what stuff is best. There’s simply too much because, being digital, it’s too easy to end up with piles of files. So I must pick my favorites; what’s most valuable?
Okay, concrete example: web browser bookmarks. In Safari, I’ve bookmarked hundreds of sites and articles over the years. My folders are in a perpetual state of half disorganized and half being organized. While I’ve deleted many so far, they were just the easy ones, and now I must decide what’s worth keeping. The less I keep, the easier it will be to sort them into proper folders.
Another area: music. With Spotify and Apple Music granting access to millions of songs, I’ve easily added an untold number to my library. I try to organize favorites into mixed playlists, but with so many songs, it seems infeasible. I wonder if I should first remove a bunch of music — the ones easily identified as throw-away. Then on a second sweep, I might scrutinize the best of the best. I imagine having a final “Ultimate” playlist (well, one per mood or genre) with only the songs I really love. Still, that’s much work. I could rely on the Apple/DJ curated lists/stations or could just ask Siri to play something good…nah.
Books, Games, Files, Photos
The challenge of choosing what to keep applies to various digital media: Kindle eBooks library, Steam game library, or one’s personal Documents folder on the computer for example. It’s easy to accumulate sample books, free games, or random files and later realize you can’t see the forest for the trees. The more stuff there is, the more effort you need to organize it or see clearly what’s there.
Sure, I can snap 100 photos of a birthday party without worrying about storage space, but then I must cull the blurry shots and create albums for the rest, which is time-consuming. Add this to the plethora of other digital files to manage and it can be all-consuming.
So is it worth the time and energy needed to analyze everything, find the best of the best, and keep only clearly sorted favorites? I’m not sure what a better solution is, and I don’t think there’s much choice. Either I leave everything in a sort of half-organized messy pile, or I purge what I can before sifting for faves.
If you accumulate much stuff, sooner or later you must deal with it all; indeed, it’s a process.
What declutter ideas do you have?