Tuesday 21 February 2017

Digital Clear Out

I read Getting Things Done way back in 2010 when I was engaged in my masters. It was not a game changer, but it did have three long and lasting effect on me

  1. Inbox zero for almost seven years
  2. A ruthless dedication to the act of do, defer or delete
  3. Using a task manager for deferred items. I use Things.

I am about two months into the practice of minimalism and so far I had avoided tackling my digital world and now I have started.

This was my starting point:

  1. 10Gb of stuff in Dropbox.
  2. 400+ login credentials and secure notes in LastPass.
  3. 35,000 emails going back to 2004. Thankfully all in the same folder “Archive”.
  4. 500+ contacts in my address book
  5. A re-installation of my main operating system is a major event and mostly a hand rolled process.

Clearing out Dropbox was easy, I just pressed delete. I had not accessed Dropbox in well over a year and if I accidentally did delete something of value then I will likely have a backup of of it somewhere on a backup drive. If I do not, whatever – shit happens.

Lastpass was arduous. It took me nearly all of Sunday but I completed it. The end result was this…


Old accounts for services I have not used have been deleted / abandoned and everything I have in Lastpass, I actually used in some way shape or form. I should note that in some cases (ebay, StackOverflow to name two) the experience of changing passwords was terrible1.

I managed to delete about 22,000 emails of crap - error reports, daily newsletters (exactly why did I subscribe to the Hacker News weekly digest when it is the one site I have rampant information addiction to?). It was liberating to get this low, but I am not going to stop there, I have a new idea and one that I am calling “email zero”, more on that later.

Finally, a re-installation of my operating system from scratch should not be a major event. It should be a simple event in which I press a button, walk away and 30 mins later come back to a machine in which I have all my dotfiles as they should be, all my GUI apps installed and all my cloud services connected.

I will get there. One step at a time.

  1. I will write more on this later, but eBay - hang your head in shame. Disabling the use of password managers is in 2017 unforgivable. I have this horrible feeling if ever I was get an answer as to why I would get someone tell me “to make it more secure”. Just no. Stack Overflow - you should know better. Burying your password change form in the way you do makes me seriously question the priority of your UX team given your recent celebration on redesigning your nav bar