Notes from a Floating Life Thoughts about productivity, digital living, and leading a simpler life

Delete It

Whether we intend to or not, we collect a lot of digital cruft. Piles of bookmarks in Pinboard or Delicious. Notes saved to Evernote or Simplenote. Articles stored in Instapaper and Pocket. Unread feeds in our RSS readers. And more.

We become digital packrats. We figure that we’ll get a chance to look at all those things we’ve saved when we have time (whenever that is). Or, we get into the contingency mindset —believing some or all of that will be useful in the future.

The problem is that you’ll never get to that backlog. Most of what you save won’t be useful in the future. Chances are, it has a short shelf life anyway.

Instead of letting that backlog build up, delete it. Mercilessly.

But how do you know what and when to delete? A good guide is this: if something has been waiting for you to read or use it for six weeks, you won’t get to it. Ever. By then, it will more than likely be obsolete anyway.

Every quarter, set aside an hour or two to go through your digital backlog. Log into every account that holds the various bits and pieces that you’ve collected. Cull whatever is older than a few months.

Saying that you keep something because you might, just might need it one day is silly. If you think that, then things will just keep piling up. You’ll never keep up. Don’t waste your time and energy trying. There are better things to do.

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