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Say Cheese! Now Cut the Cheese (Decluttering e-clutter)

“Warning: You don’t have enough space on your computer,” read the notice on my monitor. Not enough space? Me? I had to laugh. I sought advice from an IT friend, who suggested buying a new computer.


“What’s option B?” I wanted to know.

“Free up space.”

“As in declutter my e-clutter?” I asked. Smiling, he nodded.

It’s a daily battle to stay on top of the clutter that grows in closets, drawers and kitchen cabinets, but it’s that “out of sight, out of mind” clutter – like on computers, cell phones and iPads – we need to stay on top of too. Most of us forget about e-clutter until we receive those warning messages.

How to tackle e-clutter? Same way you tackle other clutter. Gather, eliminate and organize. Here’s how I did it:

  1. I created two folders on the desktop: PHOTOS and VIDEOS and within each went the hundreds of respective files; like gathering pieces to a puzzle. This first step is the equivalent of walking around your house and gathering all photos and videos from every shelf and drawer and putting them into two separate containers.

  2. Next comes the nitty gritty. Going through one photo at a time, we might think all our photos are “keepers,” but honestly, with thousands of photos being taken, whether they’re shared or “selfies” (Oxford English Dictionary’s word of the year), there comes a point when too many are just too many. Keep only the ones that mean something special.

  3. Once you’ve culled the pictures (videos done the same way), it’s time to organize them into subfolders. You can do this by year, event, person, whatever you want, depending on what you plan on doing – Photo book? Holiday cards? Nothing? – with the photos.

  4. This process can be tiring, so it’s best to work in increments of 20 minutes. This eliminates the pressure of having to get it all done at once (not to mention the pressure on your back from sitting).

Last weekend, in between bike rides, yoga, cooking and an off-Broadway show, I sat through a number of 20-minute sessions, deleting and organizing photos and videos. After each cycle, I would “empty the trash” on my computer and then, with the same excitement as someone waiting to hear lottery numbers, watched the “available space” increase on my computer. I started the weekend at 3.94 GB and by Sunday night was up to 61GB of more space, which was all the incentive I needed to keep decluttering my e-clutter. Turns out, e-clutter is just as important to purge as regular clutter, and believe it or not, just as satisfying.

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