Due to our overconsumption of goods and products that have proven to be unnecessary, it seems as though society is beginning to understand the pitfalls of materialistic desire. There are plenty of techniques individuals are now implementing to flush their system of "things." These include such practices as:
- Boxing items away for three months, and then discarding them thereafter if unused
- Re-evaluating budgets and weekly expenses
- Selling or donating items that are collecting dust
This results in a less cluttered space, and in turn, a less cluttered life. We all know that a bigger house just means more cleaning, and a nicer car just means more maintenance and insurance costs.
However, the virtual world should be no different, as space and clutter can exist there as well. Sure, files upon files don't take up any physical space, and more storage data can always be bought. But, the effects that virtual clutter can have on your user experience and mental capacity can accumulate and turn into stress, anxiety and lost files.
As we submerge ourselves deeper into doing almost everything online, we aren't doing anybody any favors by being digital slobs. Here are four steps to living minimally in the virtual world:
Create folders. It's that simple. Everything is part of something else and will eventually lead to a broader category such as "Business," "Hobbies," "Family Photos," etc. Leaving random files scattered all over your desktop and downloads folder won't help you in the long run. Take some time to create appropriate folders for all your files and organize them accordingly. You'd be surprised how many people fail to do this.
2. Electronic Purgatory
Every quarter, create a folder called "Purgatory" (or "Null Void," "Empty Vacuum" or whatever else). Put any files or folders you don't think you'll be using much in it, especially if you haven't used them recently. If you end up using a file from the "Purgatory" folder within the next three months, you can put it back where it used to be.
After three months, the "Purgatory" folder must be deleted, even from the trash. The time period you choose to do this is entirely up to you, though three months is a good time frame to assess which files are important. The exception to the rule are those sentimental files including photos, employer references (which is becoming less and less relevant to your job prospects), awards and the like. I'll leave you to be the judge of which is which.
3. One App To Rule Them All
Have a look to see if you have more than one app for the same purpose. They may have different features, but there's always one that tickles your fancy more than the others. Move all the information from the comparison apps and input them into your main app. Then, delete all the lesser apps.
This only applies for apps that pretty much do the same thing. For example, if I only use Gmail and have only one account that's already synced to my iPhone's "Mail" app, why do I also need to have Gmail's app?
4. Shortcut To Success
In the real world, there aren't any shortcuts to success. But, making shortcuts on your computer is not only possible, but it's also recommended. Create shortcuts for your top five most frequently used folders, and add them to your toolbar or desktop. Cutting out the time to sift through folders can be very beneficial. It can eliminate the hierarchies like "My Computer > Documents > Work > Business" and so forth.
This process may even help you realize you don't really use many folders or files. Not only does freeing up your virtual space provide more data, but it also optimizes your usage. This results in less stress and more productivity.