Social Icons

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Why You Need to Get Rid of the Digital Crap that Weighs You Down

Note: This is a post from Joan Otto, Man Vs. Debt community manager. Read more about Joan.

You know that we’re big fans at Man Vs. Debt of getting rid of the junk in your life. We talk about selling your crap and paying off your debt – two huge things that work together to get your finances and your physical space in order.

though, I’ve been talking to a lot of people whose physical stuff isn’t
too much of a problem any more. Their money is starting to work FOR
them instead of against them. But they’re daunted by something that is
becoming a huge problem: Digital clutter.

What does digital clutter “look” like? It’s not invisible, contrary to popular belief.

  • Your inbox has 2,542 unread messages and 12,253 total messages. Oh, and 87 labels or folders.
  • Your memory card
    still has 2010′s Christmas photos on it – so for Christmas 2012, you
    just bought a new memory card. And you’ll get those old ones off the
    other card – as soon as you can decide whether you want to put them on
    the laptop or the external hard drive or your iPad. And don’t get me
    started on the photos on your phone…
  • Your computer’s desktop has
    more files and folders than an office-supply store, and you’re not even
    sure what that program icon launches, but you don’t want to delete it
    in case it’s important.
  • Your browser has so
    many tabs across the top that you can only see one letter of the tab
    title on each, so you gave up and opened another instance of your
    browser, or a different browser.
  • Your phone has
    a row of unread notifications across the top – apps that need to be
    updated, messages from Facebook and Twitter that you haven’t read, text
    messages saved from three boyfriends ago, birthday reminders for your
    837 closest “friends.”
  • Your contacts list has
    200 people listed approximately 3 times each – and rather than merge
    them, you’ve learned to tap the middle “Mom” to get her cell phone and
    the bottom one to email her.

Beware of digital storage sheds

One of the worst things about the 20th century, in my opinion, was the advent of self-storage. As Baker talks about in his TEDx talk, we have a multi-million-dollar industry that exists entirely to let people put the stuff they no longer want into a box so that they can fill their main living space with NEW stuff without actually getting rid of any stuff.

Then, when they get tired of that stuff, they can box it up somewhere else, for the low fee of $29.99 a month, and get NEW NEW stuff.

scares me the most right now is that I’m seeing an entire business
model spring up around the idea of “digital storage sheds.” I don’t mean
that 4-terabyte external hard drives to back up all your files are a
bad idea. I’m more upset about the need for these things:

  • Browser extensions to help you organize dozens and dozens of tabs.
  • User-interface design
    that helps you “minimize desktop clutter” by hiding your documents and
    applications out of sight but making it hard to remove anything.
  • A service that will save ALL your text messages for you, called, I kid you not, Treasure My Text.

Don’t bring physical excuses into the digital world

I’m an inbox zero fiend.
If I’m not cleared out by the end of the day – across all platforms – I
get a little itchy. It’s OK, you can call me anal retentive or OCD. I
don’t necessarily disagree.

But I’m at my most productive when I’m not barraged with information I don’t need.
And whether, for you, that looks like inbox zero or inbox 500 (I have
hives typing that, just so you know), the point isn’t the number, just
like having 417 things total (or 50, or 100, or whatever) isn’t the point of being a minimalist. It’s about knowing what’s important.

So many people today are afraid to make choices. We keep stuff because we’re scared to say, “No, this really isn’t important.” We keep emails for the same reason. Deleting them seems so… final. So decisive. So certain.

we label those emails. We don’t pull photos off memory cards. We don’t
remove unused apps. We save floppy disks from the 1990s with emails on
them we might want to print, even though we don’t have a computer that
reads floppy disks. (Yes, those are my husband’s actual floppies in the
photo in this post – saved for that very reason.)

And we use the same excuses in the digital world that we do in the “physical stuff” realm.

  • I might need that someday!”
  • I could use that again if I started doing such-and-such.”
  • It’s worth so much money, I can’t just get rid of it.” 
  • “But so-and-so gave that to me, and I don’t want to hurt their feelings.”
  • “That’s what I have to remember so-and-so by!”
  • “I like it, I just don’t have a place to put it yet. But when I move…”
These excuses appear on shows like Hoarders, but they appear in the digital realm, too. You paid for that app, so you hate to delete it. You might
need that email someday, or that 2007 copy of your resume, or those 8
photos where your great-uncle has his eyes closed. Your wife saves all
the text messages you’ve sent her, so you hate to delete that “I love
you” she sent you last night (or the six nights before that), because it
might hurt her feelings.

We don’t know what our priorities are, so everything becomes “important” – and consequently, the truly valuable stuff is lost in the shuffle.

What to do about it

Believe it or not, this post isn’t about WHAT to do about your digital clutter.
There are a ton of great resources out there that’ll walk you through
tips and step-by-step ideas. My focus today is on opening your eyes.

I want you to do two things: Stop making excuses for your digital clutter, and take action to clear it out, in whatever form it takes.

That said, here are a few great resources to help you take those next steps:

Technology doesn’t have to control you. Very much like money, it is simply a tool – one that you can and should control, not one that should rule you.

What excuses are you making for your digital clutter? Where do you most
need to take action – or where have you been most successful at doing
so?Comment and tell us!

No comments:

Post a Comment


Sample text

Sample Text

Sample Text