When I woke up this morning, I had 41 tabs open in Chrome on my cell phone. I then sat down at my desktop and saw 40+ more tabs strung out accross three different instances of Chrome. This is just too many tabs! There’s no way I’m going to go back and read or even look at all of these pages again. So I cleaned them all up. On my phone I bookmarked all the tabs that had anything I was marginally interested in and I just closed out of Chrome on the desktop. Keeping an excess of tabs active or stale downloads around builds up over time. Here’s a few steps I’m taking to minimize some of the extra noise generated from digital waste.
Close Dead Tabs
I’m constantly guilty of having too many tabs open. I seem to always think I’m going to come back to my unused tabs but in reality I only circle back around to them around 10% of the time. Due to this, I’m going to cut down on the tabs I use. On my mobile device, I’m going to keep it at one tab. Anything interesting will be bookmarked and possibly read later on. This should help to keep focus and maybe even help my phone’s battery life. The rules for the desktop are far more lax. I’ll keep focused on closing tabs no longer in use and again bookmark those worth visiting again.
Clean Up the Downloads Folder
When space is no issue and you’ve used a machine for a long time, the downloads folder becomes a graveyard for old files. My desktop downloads folder is littered with files I’m never going to use again. So I’m going to clean it up. My laptops, both of which have 256 GB SSDs, have pristine downloads folders. I’m going to try to take a similar approach on the desktop.
Empty the Email Inbox
At the end of each day, I like to make sure all of my emails are read. To take this a step further, I’d like to have zero emails in my inbox at the end of the day. Seeing a lot of messages in the inbox can be a tramatic experience. Preventing the dread of too many emails sitting around is worth doing.
Turn Off Notifications
Email pop ups, text alerts, push notifications, and whatever other flavors of the same concept are out there are a major drain on the attention span. These little intrusions steal our focus and are rarely important. So many times I’ve been in the middle of writing code and seen a new email notification from Outlook. Though the context switch is brief, it’s enough to break the train of thought for a second or two. Most of the time these messages are things that can wait until I finish my current pomodoro or finish the task at hand.
Uninstall Apps That Are Not Needed
Over time, any system is bound to accumulate applications that are no longer relavant. Take an hour or so and clean up each device. This will free up disk space and also minimize program list menus.
Favor Creation Over Consumption
The internet is filled with so much information that it’s hard not to kick back and absorb it. There’s always hundreds of things to read, movies to watch, courses to join, and people to connect with. It’s important to take a step back and shut these things off in order to create something every once in a little while. My goal is to favoring creation over consumption. It’s a daily challenge but one worth taking on.
Moving towards digital minimalism can help to tidy up your work environment. With less overhead around to distract you, you can focus on the more important stuff. There is so much digital noise competing for our attention that it’s a major challenge to get anything done. Silencing some of this noise can be beneficial and is often well needed break for the mind. I’m using the steps laid out above to help acheive digital minimalism.