What’s a computer’s favorite food? Spam cookies, yummy!

2017 is off and running.  People are feverishly trying to stick to their resolutions and goals that they set just weeks ago.  And realistically, I bet some people have already fallen off the resolution wagon by now.  As for me, I have a laundry list of goals for the year and even came up with some for the next 5-10 years too (Go me!).  But it doesn’t really matter about the number of goals,  what really matters is making them attainable.  That’s why this week, I gave myself one goal: to get rid of all the digital clutter that consumes my everyday life, with surprise attacks specifically launched on my email inbox.  It actually wasn’t really planned, nor was it one of my resolutions, but ultimately, I realized that it was causing unnecessary frustration and irritability so I vowed to do something about it.  I woke up this past Sunday morning and at one point checked my email.  I had an ungodly amount of useless unread emails.  In the past, I would quickly check the box of each one that I didn’t care to look at and then hit delete, immediately ridding my inbox of all unwanted items.  It was quick and painless, but yet it would just continue the next day and the next day and so on.  This was a band-aid and not a fix.  I was tired of wasting the few seconds/ minutes every day deleting stuff I didn’t want.  It dawned on me… why don’t I just unsubscribe! I took a few moments to go throw each email and unfriend them, but I speedily started to feel empowered [insert me posing in superwoman pose here].  I no longer was allowing emails to bog me down.  I have continued this behavior every day since then and will not stop until I finally get rid of all the useless emails/ advertisements/ promotions/ etc.  What started as a way to just clean up my inbox has now spiraled into much, much more.

Me up until last week…

I share with you a few stories to highlight the dangers of digital clutter.  A few months ago, I was over at my parents house, helping my mom with something on her computer.  As I sat staring at her screen, I couldn’t help but notice the unruly files, documents and pictures consuming her desktop.  I think she had a picture of one of their dogs as the background, but I could barely make it out beneath the muddled mess.  What really hit home was when she casually mentioned that she didn’t even know what was there and “could never find what she was looking for”…

Wait a second, I literally just got a spam email that usually I would have just hit delete when it popped on my screen (thanks to my macbook), but I relentlessly went into my email folder and just unsubscribed from yet one more.  What perfect timing!…

Ok, back to the story. I had my mom pull up a chair and I went through every single file with her.  Her eyes grew wide and weary since she knew this was no easy task.  First off, I created some folders on the desktop to instill the beginning attempts of organizing and reducing clutter i.e. one labeled for projects, one for quotes, one for screenshots and one for quilting.  Check! I the placed related files into the appropriate folder. Check! Next, I deleted the ones that she no longer needed.  Check! At the end, we were able to consolidate the folders even more, leaving just 3-4 folders positioned neatly on the right side her desktop.  Check! She was so happy (check!) now that she was more organized (check!), and oddly enough I felt better too (check, check, check!). Guess I just can’t stand any clutter, even if it isn’t mine.  It was a win-win all around.

Typically, when people talk about minimalism and the purging of stuff, it is assumed that the stuff they are referring to is tangible items: shoes, clothes, kitchen gadgets, toys, papers, books, dvds, etc.  However, in this day in age, digital clutter might be just as bad as physical clutter.  Since everything now revolves around the internet and social media, inboxes and computers are constantly bombarded with advertisements and promotional deals, as well as the “must-haves” and my all time favorite the “We miss you! Please come spend money at our store” email.  It is as if a constant flow of tiny landmines are buried throughout the day, so every time you check your email there is a spam explosion.  Since it doesn’t take up physical space, it is often times overlooked.  One spam email overlooked turns into 2, then 5, then 10, then 20 and pretty soon it is a big hassle to go through each and every one of them.  My mother-in-law actually set up a brand new email account because she had too many junk emails and couldn’t handle it anymore.   How crazy is that?

The good news is that there is something that you can do about it and it is more than just deleting the email.  You can fight back and end this digital clutter tyranny for good! Most emails have an unsubscribe button at the bottom of the page that you can hit to delete you from there database.  Some actually post an unsubscribe button at the top next too their email address which is even quicker.  Still, some sites make it utterly impossible to unsubscribe, making you jump through all sorts of hurdles in order to find the button.  It may take a little bit of effort, but how glorious would it be to only have emails that you want to/ need to read in your inbox.  Absolutely glorious, I do say!

Take back you life from spam… except spam musubi cause that stuff is delicious!

Other forms of digital clutter that I have been working to minimize:

  1. Voicemails: I used to have a bazillion voicemails due to the fact that I would listen to them and then just let them sit until my mailbox was full.  Now I listen to them and delete as soon as I no longer need them.  I also have made a habit to clear out the deleted messages on a regular basis too (double-whammy).
  2. Photos: I have recently started going through my photos and attempting to bring some organization to the madness.  I’ve been known to take many pictures of the same subject and then keep all of them.  Now, I pick my favorite (or two) and then get rid of the rest. Who needs 20 pictures of the exact same thing? This is still a work in progress, but spending a few minutes every day helps tackle the large projects and make them feel more manageable.
  3. Documents: I keep all of my documents on a flash drive and have a few different folders on the drive dedicated to specific things.  I try my best to keep that organized; i.e. when I get a new document that I want to keep: I download it immediately and then move it directly onto the flash drive. Same goes for when I create a document, it goes to the flash drive too. That way I can find every thing I need, when I need it. If I get paper documents, I take a picture or scan it in to my computer so it can join the others at the flash drive party.
  4. Folders on Computer: I do have a few folders on the desktop of my computer, but come to think about it, I could probably stand to go through those as well.
  5. Apps on phone:  As for my phone, I regularly go through my apps and delete any that I don’t need or use anymore.  I also made specified folders to keep related apps together in one place.  I limit my app folders to what fits on one page, no spilling on to two or three pages just for apps.

Edit: Since initially writing this post last week, I have continued to rid my inbox of unwanted and unnecessary emails.  I believe I started unsubscribing from about 20-30 per day for the first few days and I am now down to about 3-4 a day.  Just have to wait for the last few random ones to come up for air and I will squash them back into the dark internet abyss. That being said, now that I have cleared out my inbox of clutter, I now have more room for that super important, classified matter-type stuff.  Ok, ok, it’s not really classified, top secret material, but in my mind, every time I get a new blog post, it quickly takes me back to my main mission: FI! Here are some new fellow FIRE-peeps (word choice due in thanks Mr. 1500 days) that I have started following this week: FieryMillennials, AffordAnything, and the HappyPhilosopher.

2 Comments

  • Gwen @ FieryMillennials January 27, 2017 at 10:42 am

    Thanks for the shout out Mrs. WoW! Did you know there’s a service that will trawl through your emails, find all the ones you’ve subscribed to and then you can unsubscribe right then and there? It’s called unroll.me! I just used it to clean up my inbox. It might find some that haven’t popped up yet!

    Reply
    • Mrs WoW January 27, 2017 at 2:03 pm

      I hadn’t heard of that. Oddly enough, I get some weird enjoyment when I hit the unsubscribe button myself. As if the computer/program takes a direct emotional hit when I tell them I no longer want them in my life… Or maybe its because I just listened to a podcast that talked about technological devices being able to read emotions. Regardless, I’ve started a revolt and will not stop until I squash them all.

      Reply

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