How many photos do you have on your phone? How many files do you have stored on your computer? If the answers are in the thousands, you may be a digital hoarder.
Digital hoarding is the reluctance to delete digital documents, even when they do not hold any value.
Why professionals struggle with digital hoarding
Professionals tend to hoard because they have an emotional and logical attachment to their digital assets. They often have the mentality that they don’t want to get rid of something they might need for one reason or another. They may review their documents with the intention of paring, but end up not deleting because they think, “What if I need this one day?” For digital documents, it could be receipts and they think, “What if I have to return this item?” And for those will thousands in their inboxes, they worry that a deleted email could lead to an issue in the future when they need to retrieve specific information.
Basically, digital hoarders hold onto their digital documents because they assign a greater meaning to the document creating a sentimental or logical connection.
Tips for taming digital clutter
The key to decluttering is to figure out what the clutter is made of and why the clutter exists.
When it comes to digital, the key is to sort through digital assets and consider the purpose they serve. Evaluate each document. Immediately eliminate duplicates, get rid of things that are outdated, and delete images and photos that no longer serve you (you know, you can get rid of those photos of your ex-boy/girlfriend who you dated 10 years ago and haven’t spoken to since the day you broke up).
Here are some specific tips for digital hoarding:
Don’t be afraid to get rid of it. Create awareness for the situation you are in and what you really need to solve it. There are certain documents you need to keep – financial statements, tax documents, etc. – but when it comes to photos and other documents, they aren’t always necessary to keep.
Think of it this way – if your computer shorted out tomorrow and you lost all your documents, which would you try the hardest to recover and why? Those are the documents to keep and file.
Use a program, such as DaisyDisk, that will help you identify files and programs you aren’t using so you can delete.
Use a smart organization system and file accordingly. Speaking of filing, you need to set up a filing system by finding and using an organization system that suits your lifestyle. If it’s something like the Neat Premium service, you can customize folders based on your needs and use some sort of keyword titling option that will allow you to easily search (and find) documents.
Get friendly with archiving. If you can’t “get rid of it,” consider archiving it. Archiving files that aren’t in immediate need or use can get them “out of sight,” which will create less clutter in your active document files.
Keep your desktop clutter-free. Just like your physical desktop, keep your virtual desktop clear and tidy. Eliminate icons for programs you don’t use (and maybe even uninstall your programs) and keep files organized based on what is needed most immediately.