Digital Mess, Physical Stress

Metro-091615-techMy natural state is one of squalor. I don’t mean to say that I leave my dirty laundry on the floor or the dishes unwashed. But I am the kind of person who has to take everything off the chair and put it on the bed to use my computer, and then move everything back to the chair before I go to sleep.

I’m planning to move soon, so it occurred to me that I should probably try to get my life together before then. But then I look at my chair (and the shelves, and the desk, and the floor) and I think, “Nope.”

So I started reading this book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, because several people have told me that it is, as advertised, life changing. The basic gist of it is that you have to purge as much as possible before you can hope to be organized, and the principle that should guide your cleaning is happiness.

Summarized, Kondo says you must physically hold every item you own and ask yourself, “Does this bring me joy?” If the answer is no, then you have to get rid of it. It doesn’t matter how new or usable or expensive it is. If you can’t do this, then you’ll never live clutter-free.

I plan on implementing her process with vigor this week, but it also made me aware of another area of my life that is a total and complete mess: my computer.

My hard drives are labyrinths of half-organized folders and mysterious documents that are named “iojuoua” and “uoiudoanr2jd.” Finding things takes some digging.

In my head, I’m planning to organize things – school papers in one folder, categorized by semester and year; music finally all sorted by album and artist. I dunno when this is going to happen, exactly. I’ve been “planning” the cleanup for several years now.

But at the same time, why bother? There’s no real need to get rid of anything on my 500 GB hard drive; there’s plenty of space left for saving thousands of more files. Leaving my gibberish naming practices aside, everything is easily searchable. And all of it fits onto a little plastic block the size of my hand. No cleaning issue here.

But how many of us live in digital wastelands of trash and clutter that we disregard entirely because they aren’t tangible? I think Kondo’s philosophy must still apply to our digital lives. Why hold onto things I don’t need and that don’t make me happy? It’s not really about the space it occupies physically as it is the space it occupies mentally. Also, there is always that chance that at any moment a hard drive can crash and I could lose everything. I know that I can go to this site and get help with data recovery, so that is a plus in this day and age.

I’m going to try her method out – physically and digitally. And so should you! (Her book is $9.99 for Kindle.) After all, when I see my messy computer, it disheartens me just as much as my messy room does.

Editor’s Note: Staff writer Paige Takeya is temporarily filling in for Christa Wittmier. Follow Paige on Twitter @lordmayocloud. Christa’s SuperTech column will return shortly.