The world has changed a lot in my lifetime, but what was perhaps hardest to wrap my head around was the limitations of digital storage.
I have an account with dropbox where I dumped every single picture I ever took on my phone. I thought it was great! Never lose a picture or video again? Sounds awesome. Well...I apparently take a lot of pictures. I overloaded the site, and while I now pay for a storage fee, I have so much on there my computer nearly crashes trying to load it all. So I don't look at any of it.
I also maxed out my storage on Google with the pictures and files I loaded on there to put on my blog and various other events since I could no longer access my dropbox easily.
Over the past couple days I spent no less than eight hours downloading and attempting to organize just my google drive onto an external hard drive. It was slow-going and infuriating. It also made me realize, that while I am getting pretty good about dumping physical clutter, I am having serious issue with getting rid of digital clutter.
It feels like a sin to toss an adorable picture of my kid at an orchestra concert. Sure...it's a little out of focus, but look how cute they are!
Mom guilt mixes well with digital hoarder tendencies. (I went to try and find a YouTube video that matched up with this idea, but all I found were a bunch of 20 something chicks holding a baby and wiping their eyes in the thumbnail. We don't need that kind of downer.)
Digital clutter is also stopping me from getting started on a new book. My AH-MAZING husband was able to recover all of my files (we think) from a backup that I did before my Mac took a shit with the new update and deleted seven years worth of writing.
He got the files back, but all my "organization" is gone. So now I don't know which "final" copy is the final-final, because they aren't in order, and I was a moron and didn't delete anything. I have a lot of work in my future to recover some of these documents. But I think I am going to try and tackle some of this mess each month.
What am I doing? Here are my tips I'm keeping in mind for digital clutter clearing marathons.
1. Get a glass of wine ready. Or candy, or whatever you grab when you are stressed out and want a comfort or rage consumable. Have it at the standby for when you are ready to toss your computer. It gives you an excuse to walk away.
2. Pick a style of organization. Getting this set up in advance will help. I have folders I am sorting my type. I am going to have a personal section and a writing section. Because they were all intermingled and it needs to stop. I am using simple folders and right now I am using a single hard drive to migrate. I think I have it half filled, so I am going to grab another one with my birthday money. Being able to plug in a "writing" drive and not getting distracted by my adorable kids is essential.
3. Shut the door and plug in the earbuds. Something my kids are finally old enough to understand is a shut door. So when I need to get something done, I shut the door and everyone kind of gets it. I put on a podcast or an audiobook that doesn't require focus, and go.
4. Plan for longer than I think I'll need. I learned the hard way not to do any of this work around pet feeding time, because they will not be ignored. If I want to do an hour of work, I allow myself a two hour time slot. This gives me time for unplanned phone calls, kid emergencies, or the possibility that I'm on a roll and want to wrap something up.
5. Be brutal and hit delete. I looked at my inbox with over 10k emails (all of them over 4 months old) and knew I'd never be able to get through them. I hit delete. If I missed something, I missed it. Any offer or request would have been null and void at this point anyway. I feel a huge fucking relief. I'm also deleting pictures or projects that I don't need. I had requests and receipts from companies that don't exist anymore.
6. Remember it's okay to not finish right now. I tend to be an all or nothing type of cleaner/organizer. I either have to get it all done, or what's the point? It's a mindset I have been working hard to change. Timers are a killer tool for me. I utilize 15 minute timers when cleaning or writing. But digital work is more of a long haul. Moving files and going through them takes more than a minute or two.
Do you have any tips for getting the digital clutter gone? I feel like my digital clutter is in the same category as my student loans, and I will never be rid of either. If you're tackling your own digital clutter, I lift my glass of rage quit wine in solidarity.