Purging in the Time of Pandemic: Electronic Stuff

Last week I posted about two key areas in your home, the kitchen and bathroom, where you can purge (or use up) stuff while maintaining social distance. The stuff in these two rooms can often be handled without the need to make a lot of donations, or selling items, activities strongly discouraged at this time.

This week I’ll be providing tips on how to get started purging your electronic stuff. By electronic stuff I mean everything, such as digital photos, documents, emails, contacts, bookmarked links, cookies, third-party storage apps, podcasts, etc. Purging electronic stuff can be done in your home and doesn’t require any special effort to donate, unless you’re planning on getting rid of actual hardware. Another perk is that some of it can be done while binge watching Netflix.

Sometimes it can be difficult to motivate to work on purging and organizing your electronic stuff because there’s so much of it. And many of us never feel the pain of having too much electronic stuff the same way we do when we run out of closet space, or can no longer close our drawers.

Even though you may not feel physically bothered by your electronic stuff, it’s still a good idea to go through it. Keep it current and reduce as much as you can. Know what you have. These are all good strategies if/when disaster strikes. Plus it makes activities like backing up, restoring, or migrating your electronic stuff easier and cheaper in the long run.

To start, pick something easy. Break larger tasks into smaller ones. Develop some guidelines and criteria for what you want to keep or delete. For example, bookmarked links. I have folders and sub-folders to store my links, plus random one-offs. One strategy could be to go through the stash folder by folder. And then attack the one-offs. Deletion criteria could include broken links (obviously!), ones related to outdated projects, or links I never accessed.

Or if you decide to start with contacts, go through them one letter at a time. Eliminate duplications, make sure the information is up-to-date, and delete any contacts of people you can’t remember.

For more tips and tricks, check out my earlier posts on Deletion and start with the post “Digital Decluttering“. Or order my book, which has a section on “Digital Decluttering” and another one on “Email Management.”

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