A clutter disgrace

OVERLOAD: For clutter or for worse. Photo: Shutterstock

CAN’T find your photos, documents or e-mails? You may be a cyberhoarder, warns Terence Kennedy

A GYM teacher once baffled our class, saying we should line up alphabetically in order of height.

Here’s my related confession: my computer desktop is arranged with absolute OCD symmetry, pretty rather than practical. The Home screen on my phone is a perfect balance of round and square icons with no colour clashes whatsoever. Trouble is, I can’t delete any app I don’t use because it upsets the aesthetics.

Like many of us these days I have a congenital reluctance to delete. But if life’s far too cluttered technologically, isn’t it time to do something about it?

‘Cyberhoarding’ is a new term for those of us drowning under the unmanageable weight of our data – an inability to get rid of stuff we accumulate online.

Let’s start with our apps. How many do you actually use? An old journalistic dictum says ‘When in doubt, leave it out’. Holding onto that obscure Mongolian-Swahili dictionary just in case? Off with its head, uninstall and if you ever do need it, just download it again.

The same applies to a computer desktop. When a friend in need asked me to fix his sludge-slow system, I had to throw in the digital towel when he wouldn’t let me uninstall any of his ‘vital’ 100-plus programs. Nobody needs 100 programs.

Outlook ground to a halt for a colleague a while back, and she berated Microsoft for designing such a clunky program. Quite right – until I found way over a thousand e-mails in her Inbox. Delete, or file, don’t just leave.

Time was when we took a few photos and saved just the best. Today we keep them all, even the duddest of the duds. Be ruthless: weed out the best and zap the rest. At worst, move the bulk off your device and onto a hard-drive, a USB stick or into the cloud.

WhatsApp is a notorious data-hog. If you really do still need to be reminded what your sweetheart ate for breakfast four Januaries ago, at least delete the Weetabix photo that went with it. The same goes for Twitter.

CDs and DVDs of programs you’ll never use again? Computer accessories once cutting-edge but now just metal and plastic flotsam? Old phones desk-drawered five contracts ago? Head for the charity shop, the old-gadgets collection bins or back to the dealers who’re supposed to know what to do with this stuff.

Finally, close those accounts you thought you just couldn’t live without. Trust me, you can. In fact one of these days I’m even going to close my own MySpace account. Promise.

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Terence Kennedy


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