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For six years, the Internet Nexus served as my technology blog, but I've since started blogging at the SuperSite Blog instead. If you're looking for the blog, please head there. --Paul

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Top 10 Ways to Declutter Your Digital Life

This is wonderful, and completely in keeping with my "less is more" philosophy. A must-read:
There's been lots of talk about de-cluttering your physical workspace in the productoblogosphere lately, but virtual clutter can drag you down and create as much stress and anxiety as physical junk can. An overstuffed email inbox, thousands of unread feed items, a desktop covered in aging, random files are all forms of "e-clutter" that distract and overload you with more inputs than necessary. As the holiday week winds down this Friday, take a little time to clear your e-clutter for a fresh start next week. Here are 10 ways to go about it.

10. Reduce multiples ... the more systems you run and maintain the more time you spend syncing, upgrading, troubleshooting and setting up computers and the less time using them.
I've been on that bandwagon for a while, noting years ago that people who multi-boot aren't getting any work done. If you must use multiple systems for some reason--or simply need to test things on other platforms--look at virtualization. It works.
9. Unify your tools ... Fewer storage spaces and communication channels (like email addresses, blogs, social networking accounts) means spending less time switching up and more time accomplishing things.
Exactly. One of the beauties of email is that it can seamlessly download email from any other service and dump it into a label-based view: Now I have only one email entry point and it is accessible from any Web-enabled device on earth.
8. Uninstall unused programs

7. Strengthen your filters
This is an ongoing battle for me, but again, Gmail is making life easier. (I keep waiting to be informed that I've hit the limit for the number of filters you can have. So far, so good.)
6. Archive non-working files
I've been a backup and archiving nut since 1999, when I lost a bunch of important data after I inadvertently formatted the wrong partition on a hard drive. I keep multiple copies of archived backups on DVDs and various hard drives, and I switched to a redundant terabyte backup system years ago, which makes life easier. Now, of course, these things are much cheaper too.
5. Organize "My Documents"
This won't help so much with data organization, but it will help declutter things in general, so it's still good advice: Also, take the time to declutter your Start Menu (on Windows) and any applications you happen to use. For example, I create folders like "Utilities," "Internet," "Digital Media," and so on under the top level of the Start Menu and organize and delete accordingly. My Start Menu is trim and easy to navigate. Likewise, I heavily modify every install of Firefox so that there is a single toolbar, combined with certain Google Toolbar features, that gives me access to the stuff I use online regularly. I'll try to document this at a later time, but Firefox has evolved into my front-end for much my digital life thanks to Gmail, Google Calendar, and Picasa Web Albums, the latter of which I use to archive about 25 GB of family photos.
4. Empty your "junk drawer"

3. Clear your desktop
Arguably, #3 could be combined with #5 and my Start Menu advice. But like many people, I use the desktop to hold temporary files, which I think of as a combination of files I'm working on and files that need to be filed on the network. On the road, I use a "To file" folder on the desktop for stuff that needs to be filed when I return. At home, I try to keep the desktop as devoid of icons as possible.
2. Prune your feed subscriptions
I don't think most normal people even use feed subscriptions, but if you do, focus on the ones that offer real value, not hate-oriented blogs or those with uninformed opinions. I have a very short list of sites I visit regularly, from a tech standpoint, because most of what's out there is just bluster and noise. The decluttering advice here should extend to your whole life--i.e. your physical home and office (thus regular offerings of books and DVDs for give-away or sale) and your mind. Life is too short.
1. Empty your inbox
Absolutely. This is something I've come into lately, and it's pretty much cured my email ills. You could do this with any good Web-based email system (Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail) or any good email application, but I use the Web-based version of Gmail, and thanks to a combination of filters, labels, and Gmail's unique "Archive" feature (where archived email is moved out of the Inbox), clearing my Inbox is job one. I should document this sometime. It's really revolutionized my approach to email, which is huge for me because of the wide range of mail I get.

Anyway: This is a nice list, full of good advice. Hopefully, I've added to the discussion. But do visit the original site for more information.


[ Posted at 10:39 AM | Permalink ]


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