In the News

Digital Pack Rat

By Wyatt Messinger

Keep or throw away? Valuable or junk? Like or dislike? With spring cleaning right around the corner, these are many of the questions we will use to evaluate items around the house or apartment. In fact, there can be such a fascination with how people make these decisions TV producers have cameras follow around American Pickers to small towns and big cities as they look through people’s stuff in search of valuables.

Regardless if it’s personal cleaning or a TV show, a core premise exists: by getting rid of things or re-organizing, we will bring some new order to our personal space.

But what about the millennial generation? Many of us live in apartments in cities and we don’t have front porches, basements or barns to store junk. For some millennials, all worldly possessions can still fit in a 1998 Nissan Altima. There’s nothing wrong with this but does that mean if we don’t have a lot of stuff then we must be clutter-free?

Not exactly.

In many cases, technology and mobile devices provide us a new landscape to clutter.

Smartphones or digital cameras always have to a few pictures deleted before we can capture the next most important moment of our life. We need to sort through “John From the Party”, “John Wakefield, RI” and “John Emily’s Friend” before we find the right person in our contacts. Smartphones, all Apple products and other technologies make our lives easier and help us stay connected personally and professionally but it also makes many of us something else: a digital pack rat.

Now for my disclaimer/confession: I am generally a very organized person. I am meticulous in organizing my Inbox and many other professional resources but occasionally I turn my desktop into a digital junkyard.

Of course, I have my reasons. Over the past year, I’ve spent lots of time traveling. With only a few minutes to pop open my laptop between flights, it’s frequently easier to save an attachment to my desktop if I need to edit and re-send. I always tell myself that I’ll file this document away later but as you’ve probably guessed, this doesn’t always happen.  The result: currently I have 23 folders and 55 Word docs/spreadsheets/images/PDFs saved to my desktop.

I am due for a little digital spring cleaning. Everything is important, and will likely be kept, but when I find a new place for all my treasures I will be even more organized and efficient. Here’s to continuing to productively use, and enjoy, technology but also keeping it as organized as possible… not to mention I’ll find out what my desktop background looks like.

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