Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Digital Clutter

Although I have no statistics to back me up, I suspect that digital clutter plagues as many people as physical clutter does. Crowding on our desktops or in our e-mail inboxes may not take up physical space, but it does take up space in the most important location we all deal with daily: our heads. We're inclined to notice the discomfort if we're lugging around an overstsuffed backpack, but too often we dismiss the nagging weight of too much burdensome stuff on our minds. Digital clutter at its worst is evident in hoarding behavior.

Wall Street Journal: Hoarding Goes Digital

"Digital clutter doesn't beget mice or interfere with walking around the house," says Kit Anderson, past president of the Institute for Challenging Disorganization, a nonprofit in St. Louis, that studies hoarding behaviors. "But it's more insidious because no one else is going to insist that you get help."

Hoarding behaviors in the digital world are likely to be as difficult to handle as in the physical world, but most of us can tackle our digital clutter in the same way we tackle our real world stuff. If you Google "digital clutter," you'll find many links devoted to solutions to the problem. Some of them require mastering software that's designed to help you get organized. But using this software is rather like buying more storage containers for the stuff that's cluttering your home: it doesn't deal with the problem itself. The real solution: let it go.

After you've tossed the excess, some of those organizing programs can help you sort what you've decided to keep and prevent digital clutter in the future. But, just as in real life, the real trick is to avoid accumulating more stuff that you don't need. And if you do slip, remember that the delete key is your friend.