With the amount of data being generated in our lives daily, it’s easy to let things get out of hand. At one point, I had over 4,000 articles in my “read later” list. I also had over 20,000 digital photographs sitting on my hard drive, with more being added every week. Digital information has a habit of piling up. Data is not physical, so you don’t see how much digital clutter you really have. There is a new generation of “hoarder” with an unmanageable amount of digital clutter.
The most useful way of decluttering your life is to apply the 80/20 rule. That is, you can safely delete 80% of your data, because you will only ever use 20% of it. The tricky part is deciding which part of the 80/20 rule each piece of data belongs in.
There needs to be a software application that guides you through the process of 80/20 elimination. For example, software for reducing digital photograph clutter can go through your entire collection once a year and help you eliminate 80% of your digital photos until you reach a minimal collection size. For my own digital photograph collection, each year I delete 80% of my photographs. This leads to a natural “decay” process where I reach a minimum of about 50 pictures for each year, in about 2-4 years.
A way that software can help this process is to periodically present you with a batch of pictures to decide on. Each day, the software might present to you a batch of 10 pictures. From these 10, you would choose your 2 favorite pictures. The rest will be deleted, while the 2 you chose would be protected from deletion for at least another year. Once a picture reaches a particular threshold, such as surviving deletion for 3 years, or being flagged as “must keep”, the picture will be archived permanently to your collection.
This process of 80/20 ruling digital pictures will also work for any other digital content that has a tendency of piling up. These include web links, music, videos, documents, e-books and others.
Do you know of any software out there today that uses the 80/20 rule? Let me know in the comments.