I used to say that I don’t work with hoarders. BUT I quickly came to realize that when working with people’s digital and paper information, it’s a form of hoarding.
We often think of information hoarding as that giant stack of 40-year-old newspapers or a coffee table with every National Geographic magazine known to man, or a room so full of books you can barely walk through the door, never mind eat dinner at the dining room table. And yes, some people still have that kind of information, but more commonly, I see a combination of the digital world with information overload and paper that is no longer needed that’s being kept and taking up space.
Examples of digital information hoarding may include:
That downloads folder containing a million and one downloads. You know the ones: all those PDFs you downloaded on how to generate content, get more followers, and spruce up your LinkedIn profile…
The endless amount of personal and business pictures, which completely lack organization
Saving every email you get - even the discount codes from Ann Taylor Loft that expired two weeks ago
Examples of physical information hoarding may include:
- An endless supply of notebooks containing every note from every meeting, conference, workshop, and mastermind you’ve ever been to
- A filing cabinet full of papers that you rarely open or touch
- A box in your basement packed with all of the papers you wrote in your high school English class, right next to all the report cards from elementary school
- Books you will never get around to reading
Information is not in itself bad. But even when organized, having TOO much information can cause problems.
The truth is, it’s hurting our brains in more ways than one. It’s a constant reminder that we have unfinished projects, incomplete books, more ideas than we know what to do with, checklists and worksheets we simply can’t implement, and webinar replays we’ll never have time to watch. All of this information prevents us from moving forward with a clear mind and weighs us down.
Even though digital clutter is often out of sight and out of mind…it can still affect you by impacting your productivity and flow when you go looking for something and can’t find it because there’s simply too much. And to be honest, is it ever really out of mind?
Paper and digital clutter also cost us money! It may seem like the internet is an endless vast storage facility, but the reality is that more storage space costs money and adds up. $.99 Extra on iCloud, an extra Dropbox fee because you maxed that out, and a couple more dollars for Google Drive.
How much space do we really need? Do you know what's even being stored up there in "the Cloud" or on your Google Drive?
We often have far more storage than we actually need and fill this digital void just because we can.
How to Tackle It
Now that you’re aware of your information excess, perhaps you want to start doing something about it. Maybe you realize you really do have too much and it’s gotten a little out of hand. You do feel a little heart palpitation every time you look at your downloads folder on your computer and see all those unused templates.
Start by taking stock of what you have. Take an inventory of all your information - what do you have? Be honest and realistic with yourself from physical books, magazines, saved articles, general paper, coupons, Christmas cards, and more.
Take stock of where your digital information is stored - email, Google Drive, Dropbox, thumb drives, hard drives, your downloads folder, etc.
The next step is to reduce what’s coming in. Next time you go to bookmark an article, ask yourself if you really will revisit it. Why are you saving this thing? Will you go back to it and reuse it. This process of questioning yourself will help you to reduce new incoming information as much as you can.
Then, begin chipping away! Every little bit counts.
When it comes to paper, start with a little bit at a time, process what you can, and get rid of everything you can part with. When I reduced 80% of my paper, I was very mindful of not just simply scanning everything and turning it into digital information, I went slow and steady and got rid of things I truly no longer needed.
It can be hard and there are a lot of emotions involved. It can feel like you’re letting go of ideas, things you might need or want in the future, and memories.
As you go through, and you see things that are short-term ideas or projects “to-do”, type them up, put them in a master list, or better yet - act on them! Put everything that is more in the “someday” category in a separate place, perhaps in a box or a special notebook. Otherwise, these things will keep tugging on you as you leave them undone.
And sometimes, the best solution is to simply let it go. Sometimes the ideas or actions or goals don’t serve us anymore and it’s ok to let them go.
With notebooks, try to stay regular about going through them and process notes that should go somewhere else such as your task management software, a sticky note, or a Google doc.
So, what can you commit to starting with today? Perhaps that filing cabinet in your office or your Google Drive folders, or your own box of papers you’ve had since you were a kid?
It’s never too late to start and every small step towards reducing the amount of information you’re hoarding helps you be more productive, peaceful, and prosperous!
Want to learn more about my proven step-by-step method for reducing paper and digital clutter? Read my CHANGES blog here!
Ready to start working together? Check out my monthly low-cost membership where you will get the coaching, strategy, and accountability you need to successfully declutter and get organized. You can learn more here >>> https://joannkrall.com/membership