It's Time to Simplify

[Editor's warning: this post is going to be 'first-world problems' as hell. I acknowledge this and will understand if you lose interest after the first paragra- hey, where'd everyone go?]

I like keeping things simple in my personal life. I wouldn't necessarily call myself a minimalist, but I don't like complications, either. So why is my digital life so cluttered?

Let me explain, service by service:


In Evernote, I've got nearly 2,500 notes, all of which have been tagged and sorted into folders. Most of them have been assigned 3 or more tags because I'm apparently OCD about keeping this stuff organized, despite the fact that Evernote has an amazing search feature that could probably bypass the need for tags. Besides that, I've got nearly 250 different tags that I'm using, which is utterly ridiculous.

Some of this stuff is important for me to keep, or at least fits the ideal use-case for Evernote (such as receipts, recipes, medical records, product instructions, travel ideas/notes, etc), but I would say that the majority of these notes instead fit this description: "a cool thing I saw on the internet once and decided to use Evernote to bookmark it, even though I may never read it again."

Google Reader

I'm subscribed to over 50 RSS feeds, mostly tech and design blogs. To some of my fellow internet geeks, I bet this isn't even a figure worth batting an eye over, but I'm sure it's still more than anyone really needs to keep up with on a daily basis. And this is after I've already cut out a bunch of feeds, too. 


Currently following 96 people. I can refresh my feed once every 15min and have several new tweets to read, some of which link out to other content on the internet. It feels like I have to constantly be checking Twitter to keep up with everything. I plan on doing a purge soon, but I hate dropping people who actually do post good content now and then. It's just all the boring stuff in between that adds up too fast (which I'm certainly guilty of, myself).


This is a problem shared by many, I'm sure. I've simply got way too much stuff backlogged in my Instapaper account. Enough that I've different folders set up for different types of things saved there. Ideally, I would have few enough things to catch up on that I would never even need the folder system. The even dumber thing is, I still read other articles out there on the internet, and books out here in the real world, while stuff sits in my Instapaper account months after I've saved it. What is wrong with me?


Didn't expect this one, did you? Well, my organizational OCD doesn't stop at Evernote, people. Any video saved to my Favorites on Youtube also gets filed into a playlist based on what type of video it is. Why do I need to do this? I don't know. What I do know is that I've spent far too much time sorting videos after watching them. It's just sad, really. Don't get me started on my 'Watch Later' list either.


You can probably guess on this one. I have way too many playlists (and playlist folders) that I spend too much time on organizing.


This one is at least a little bit understandable, I hope. I use my Dropbox as a replacement for the 'My Documents' folder on every computer I use. I keep files, photos, videos, backups, and other stuff arranged into folders as needed. Since I actually access the stuff in Dropbox all the time, it makes more sense to keep this stuff in order so I can actually find something when I need it without having to run a search or do guesswork.


Actually, I'm pretty lucky on this one. I don't receive all that much email from real people; it's mostly notifications from different places (like Facebook, Twitter, etc), receipt verifications from purchases I've made, or newsletters I'm subscribed to. But I have a feeling that if people started emailing me more, I would want to start using Gmail's label system a lot.


I've got different Wish Lists for different types of crap I want to buy later. Surely this isn't healthy.


At any given time, there are probably 5-10 podcasts that I'm "behind" on, each of which being about an hour long. New episodes are released about as fast I can listen to them, unless I wanted to set aside an entire day to catch up on everything.

I'm sure I could keep going, but you get the idea. I obviously have a serious problem with wanting to keep every little thing in my life organized. I don't follow any sort of "Getting Things Done" methodology, but I've apparently decided to make up a dozen different workflows in unnecessary places. Entirely too much time in my life has been eaten up by doing all of this. It's got to stop or I will go crazy (har-har, you're already crazy (wait, now you're talking to yourself (oh god please stop))).

What I probably need is a big red button that I can push that resets everything back to "Inbox Zero" so I can rebuild a better, simpler digital life this time around.