It's spring time, and as I look in the closets of my home and office, I am reminded of the term "spring cleaning". It's a good reminder to assess what I still need to keep and what I can let go of. Yep, I do have a handful of things from conferences that I've kept around (anyone want a fidget spinner or USB thumb drive?)...and making that hard decision to donate them. Do I really need to have all those conference lanyards, USB squids, random IoT boards, etc?
That's the physical clutter in my life.
What about the digital stuff? Given the era of infinite cloud storage and ginormous hard drives...I've collected quite a bit of digital debt as well. I've got terabytes of harddrives with photos, tons of development projects, and tons of backups of websites that are not even online.
Digital debt is was easier to hide. Just create a folder and you quickly realize you don't know what's really taking up 400gb.
So I starting taking a look at the places I've stashed content and whether I really need it.
Github is a great place to store projects, and now with free private repos, those private projects. Probably ideally a good place for more active projects given its main purpose. What projects have you left alone for longer than a year? Are they still relevant? Does anyone else use them? Does it really make sense to keep old projects around aside from the prestige (and a portfolio) of what you've done in your past?
I have a folder called projects on my laptop where I keep pet projects that I started to test out a theory or figure out quickly how something worked. I still hold out on some of the projects that I will pick them up again in the future. As time goes along, it's looking less and less likely.
Online storage like Google Drive and Box are great collaboration tools to share files online. And with either unlimited storage or lots of storage space being offered, it's a great place to backup all your local files. Smartphones can backup all your selfies to the Cloud, making space on your phone for even more. It seems like a never ending generation of data. And since you rarely run out of space, the urgency to clean up and maintain order isn't a strong motivator.
Before I adopted using Cloud Storage, I amassed number multi-terabyte external drives of pictures and videos. Many of the drives have sat there cold and unplugged on the shelf. The storage isn't as easily accessible (they need to be plugged in) and are rarely used. It's the mental connection that I hold onto and know I can revisit them at anytime.
So the question you should ask is, if you're not actively using it, do you really need to keep it? There are many reasons, from emotional connections, to futuristic hopes of using it again, to a sense of historical importance to you or maybe someone else, like your child (keeping all those photos and videos for a baby to see when she's a teenager, more than a decade from now).
Can you somehow recreate or purchase it again if you ever find yourself needing it again? It's okay...go ahead and donate it. You enjoyed it while you've had it...and someone else will actively use it. It's okay...delete all those extra photos of the same thing...you just need one, maybe two.
I'm curious at what digital content you hoard and want to get rid of. What are your techniques to spring clean?