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 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 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 photos. It 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 give you a batch of 10 photos. From these 10, you would choose your two favorite photos. The rest are deleted, while the two you chose would be protected from deletion for at least another year. Once a picture reaches a particular threshold, such as surviving elimination for three years or being flagged as “must keep,” the image will be archived permanently in your collection.
This process of 80/20 ruling digital pictures will also work for any other digital content that tends to pile 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.