It’s hard to change my behavior. Hard to resist the call of new, of more. One thing I’ve tried is that whenever the urge to go to Twitter or Google News comes, I instead focus on reviewing and deleting. I’ve had some success.
We’ve done a lot of Top Tasks projects over the years where we help organizations identify what’s most important to their customers. A core part of these projects is the running of surveys and the subsequent analysis. A lot of files are created in the process. When I examined the folder that contained the Top Tasks survey data I found that there were 12,861 files amounting to 13.9 GB of data. Did we need all these files and data?
To analyze the data, we created a plugin for Microsoft Excel. Thus, to process the data we needed a series of Excel files. For some reason, I can’t remember why, we had also created an identical set of CSV files for every Excel file we created. I deleted them. There were unnecessary HTML files. I deleted those. There were copies, copies of copies, zip files, multiple versions of results, temp files. There was even a folder called “old files” with 1.60 GB of data in it. I deleted all these.
It was boring, repetitive work, though I didn’t mind it. In a way, it felt meditative. It felt good. I was getting rid of useless waste, letting go stuff that was causing pollution and hurting the environment. At the end of the process, I had gone from 12,861 to 5,088 files, and from 13.9 GB to 1.07 GB. I had got rid of 92% of useless data, and I probably could have gotten rid of more had I worked harder. The Top Tasks folder is cleaner, easier to manage, and easier to understand.
I’ve been slowly reviewing the rest of my data world and there’s so much junk, thousands of duplicate files, all sorts of crap. It’s depressing. I’ve been such a participant at creating and storing gigabytes of crap.
I still waste time and the Earth’s energy every day unnecessarily going online when I should instead be doing something physical or at least cleaning up a bit more of the digital poo I’ve left lying around.
There are small signs of progress. I’m working to get better, to downsize in all sorts of ways, to focus on what really matters and enjoy those things to the maximum. The light shines now and then and after maybe a period of cleaning up some digital junk, and some extra focus on the important stuff, there is a quiet sense of satisfaction.
It’s a work in progress.
World Wide Waste
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