I believe less is more. Less stuff means more clarity and focus, a chance to being mindful and finally being faster. With this post, I intend to stir you to give up on things that you don’t need. Because you try to hold on to it all, it’s so much harder for you to be your best. Let’s try pressing that delete key, shall we?
Have you heard yourself asking one of these questions? „How can I add digital helpers to my system to get more productive? Isn’t there an app to let me handle even more? Shouldn’t I be following more people on social media so I don’t miss out? What other types of digital information should I gather?“ If one of these sounds familiar - as sure they do to me! - chances are you as well are walled-in by gadgets, apps and just plain noise that makes it hard to get anything properly done at all in a day that only has 24 hours.
Take a stand with me and let’s change course. It will be for the better. Let’s try purging and cleaning up the following 10 things that might clutter your life, too:
- Twitter. Who is it that you are following? Why did you start following these guys again? Do you really find their advice all that interesting? If they are just picking away at your attention without adding proper value, point them to the door. I can’t tell you what a relieve it is to not check Twitter in a while and don’t drown in an endless timeline catch-up.
- Your Facebook timeline. Still feels like everyone out there on the subway, at Starbucks or really anywhere keeps blasting their brains out with not-so-important information from Facebook. Why not unfollow a few dozen people? How about finally only worthy stuff to read on your feed?
- Youtube. What goes for Twitter and Facebook, goes for Youtube and all the channels that you have subscribed to. Only that Youtube can be the biggest timesink of them all. Turn off the tube! It’s what your granny told you years ago. Oh and wait, she would have told you the same about Instagram, Snapchat and all the rest.
- Your podcast queue. Now this wasn’t easy for me, at first. Podcasts are a rather personal medium. As a listener, you’ll build a somewhat intimate connection with the hosts of your favorite shows. They have stories to tell and you forge bonds with the sounds of their voices, their history and their personality. I used to be subscribed to many shows all across the topics board that were a regular installment in my week. Still, I somehow never managed to listen to everything that I downloaded. I even tried the speed tricks that the podcast player Overcast offers to get through more, faster. What an affront to the podcasters! But these shows just kept adding up. If you are like me, ask yourself: How often is there redundancy between the shows that you are listening to? Haven’t you heard it somewhere else, already? Do you really need a subscription to a podcast or can’t you just check in from time to time? Why not stick with only those podcasts that offer more timeless content which won’t be outdated next week?
- Your read-later service. Read-later apps, like Pocket (my favorite) or Instapaper, are great: You can pocket all the great stories that you find on the web and that you want to read. Just not right now, but later because later you will have plenty of spare time to read up on that content. Only your read-later-queue gets ever longer. And you will never find the time to actually read these articles. Recently, I went on vacation and thought about just doing nothing besides reading, reading and reading. A long flight, lots of chillout time in a beach chair, no wifi and just my iPad with all the preloaded articles in Pocket. I did my best. I spent the flight hopping between conventional reading, speedreading (if there is such a thing) in an app called Accelerator (which offers Pocket integration and presents you one word at a time at a customizable speed) and cranked-up TTS (text-to-speed) to finally cleanse that damn list. I don’t know how many years have piled up in that app, but it is to this day seemingly impossible to shrink that queue in many meaningful way. Why not declare „read-later-bankruptcy“ like I just did and start over?
- Your RSS reader. Your RSS reader should be treated in a similar manner as your read-later-service. You should be able read or at least skim through all the articles of the feeds you have subscribed to every few days or so. Unless you do reading for a living, this means you have to unsubscribe from the so called firehoses that keep spamming you with „news“ stories. My opinion: You should follow the news on something less sticky than your RSS reader. (After all, there are still websites out there..) And do you follow sources on Twitter and also subscribe to their RSS feeds? Why?
- Your iPhone apps. Now, on your iPhone, go to Settings->General->Storage and then tap on Manage storage. You will get a long list of apps that you can easily wipe off your phone. Try some of the big ones that take up so much space. Ditch some of those games. Then bunch-delete these smaller apps that you haven’t used in forever. Why do you need more than one app for the same purpose? Oh, and by the time your new iPhone arrives, why not go for a clean install?
- Your Mac apps. I have this handy tool on my Mac called AppCleaner. It helps you uninstall apps with all the hidden clutter that comes along with them. I make a habit of opening it frequently these days to see which apps I can delete. Running a lean SSD machine with plenty of disk space is an uplifting feeling for a geek like me. As efficient as I have been (and still am) in adding stuff to my system, I have be in cleansing it.
- Your digital storage. Having a proper backup strategy is a good thing. But don’t confuse a backup system with being invested in several cloud storage options. The latter won’t serve you, it will only make your life more difficult. Dropbox andBox? OneDrive and Google Drive? Evernote and Notes.app? All of them? Can all this mess be justified by a few different features here and there?
- Your to-do-list. Now, this may not be a digital issue for you if you are that one pen-and-paper guy. But if you are like me, you are probably meticulously organizing your GTD system in an app of your choice because of that whole mind-like-waterthing. But what if there is stuff inside that to-do-app that just never seems to get tackled? The stuff you keep deferring and rescheduling? It’s precisely stuff like this that makes you think: „I should try out this other to-do-app on the Appstore. I read great reviews about it, it looks nice and it might actually be better than mine.“ Sometimes I believe that to-do-lists are such a big thing on the Appstore because people avoid being honest with themselves in terms of personal productivity and accountability. If something has been reviewed twice and still didn’t get a checkmark, do you need to hold on to it? Can you - maybe - redefine and reorganize the task to give it another chance? If not, just let it go. You’ve got other stuff to do.
Have you tried a few of these purges? Great job! It feels so much better now, doesn’t it?