Due to the large volume of “stuff” we manage to accumulate electronically, getting rid of ROT is key to managing your information effectively. ROT is an acronym we use in my profession when referring to information, or documents, that are redundant, outdated, or trivial. Basically, the stuff that has so little value you probably wouldn’t even notice if it was deleted, except to remark on how much extra space you have.
Let’s break down the ROT so you can get started on Digital Decluttering. Last week’s posting, Strategic Saving, offered some guidelines and tips on how to determine what to keep. ROT focuses on what to delete.
Redundant – this refers to copies and duplicates. It never ceases to amaze me how much duplication we accumulate digitally (or physically). Sometimes this happens because we might forget where we put something, or what we named it. This will often result in us saving the same thing again, maybe in a different place or with an altered name. These duplicates do not need to be kept. Delete them!
Tip: Technology can be super useful with deduping (i.e. getting rid of the duplicates), especially with digital photos. Try searching for an app that works with your computer.
Outdated – this refers to information or documents that have expired, meaning their content is no longer timely or relevant. Some examples of this may include document drafts (once the final is ready), obsolete versions (e.g. resumes), household budgets 2+ years old, anything time specific that has passed (e.g. season brochures, invites, or catalogs), daily news postings, etc.
Tip: Establish some guidelines for yourself about how long information retains its value (e.g. notices, catalogs/magazines, document drafts/versions, etc.). Go through your backlog routinely (e.g. quarterly, annually) to weed out anything outdated.
Trivial – this refers to information or documents that has little to no retaining value, but that we may have kept at one time because it seemed important. Deleting this information should have no impact on your life. Examples of this include product information (e.g. if you were thinking about, or bought something at one time), directories, reference materials, blank forms, and newsletters (especially if they are also outdated).
Tip: Be mindful about how and where you accumulate trivial items. Create a temporary area for the trivial information to see if becomes important enough to save somewhere permanently. If not, delete routinely (e.g. monthly, quarterly, annually).