Christmas Challenge Week 2 Review – Digital/Info Purge Week

We’ve come to the end of the second week in the Christmas Challenge, I hope you guys are having fun decluttering! This week was Digital/Infomation purge week – designed to unload your brain a little from the million and one informational and digital distractions of life.

Dec 6 : Take 15 minutes to get rid of that pile of paper on your desk/shelf today. Scan and recycle!

As a student, it still amazes me in this day and age schools and universities are still using so much paper. However, there’s not much I can do about it except make sure it doesn’t build up on my desk and get in the way. Scanners are a minimalist’s secret weapon. Think about it, you can get rid of entire stacks and folders of paper within a day and they never have to bother you again! Plus, some scanners/software programs can literally ‘read’ the letters that you scan, making them searchable too.

Dec 7 : Unsubscribe from a blog/newsletter/magazine that you’ve been following out of habit instead of getting actual useful information from lately.

I’m one of those people who used to be terribly guilty of following too many blogs. I think I was scared I would miss out on some amazing tip/post that would change my life. But soon I realized that following so many of them did me more bad than good. I would have almost hundreds of items to read a week and it made me feel guilty. They took time to read (or at least flip through) and would even cut into my studying/book reading time. So I was harsh with myself and decided to unsubscribe to the ones that really weren’t helping at all. Now I feel like a big load has been lifted off my back.

Dec 8 : Skip watching TV today. No melodrama, no commercials. What did you choose to do with that hour instead?

Since coming to Japan, I’ve almost completely given up on television. The TV here is absolutely full of commercials, not to mention it’s in Japanese. Sometimes I will watch a show if it’s about travel/culture, or for language practice, but I’ve basically got TV hours down to about a total of two a week. I’ve certainly noticed I’ve been able to do more with the hours I’ve gained. I’ve got more time to study, to write, to read and to practice guitar, all things which I know I would much rather do in the end than wasting time.

Dec 9 : There are millions of books in the world. You’ll never read all of them. Give away a book that you’ve been meaning to read for too long.

As a book lover, this was a hard thing to admit. In fact, I had an entire shelf labelled ‘To Read’ – it was dedicated to books people have recommended, books I was given, books I bought on the spur of the moment, classics I should have read by now and books made into movies I love. Every now and again, I would pick a book from it to read, but the matter of the fact was, the shelf was growing quicker than I could read them. After a year or so of books gathering dust on that shelf, I had to admit that I’m probably never going to read them, and just like the blogs, letting go of them lifted a giant weight off of shoulders.

Dec 10 : Until just a short while ago, there was no such thing as browser tabs. If you go online today, only have one tab open. Focus!

I started using Firefox about three years ago, before I switched to the faster and more minimalist Chrome about a year ago. I didn’t realize how much I utilize the tab feature until I discovered that at university they use Internet Explorer (ew.) which didn’t have it. As much as it hurt to search on google, for other things it actually worked out quite well because I only had one window open, which meant that I wasn’t tempted to click around to other tabs whenever my focus waned. Although I can’t completely give them up, it really helps to close all other tabs when you really have to focus on writing or reading something important.

Dec 11 : Clean your computer today. Get rid of all the apps/icons/shortcuts/bookmarks you don’t need, reg errors, history…does it feel faster now?

Back at home, I was always the ‘had-no-choice-on-call-computer-doctor’ for my friends and family. I had to deal with crashes, bugs, viruses and when the sluggishness of the machine reached unbearable levels. In my experience, about 90% of the time, the problem occurred because the person didn’t regularly clean out their computer of junk. They would still have programs they hadn’t used in years, or downloaded files they never scanned for malware, some even had the crapware that came with their computer (ie. Norton). I know computers aren’t the easiest thing to understand, but a little flossing by software such as CCleaner can go a long way.

Dec 12 : Spend today disconnected. Don’t touch emails, blogs or social networks. Did you actually miss anything important?

As a person who has a love-hate relationship with Facebook, I have had days when I checked it every other hour, but I’ve also had weeks of not touching it at a time. I also don’t have time to read my RSS feeds everyday and I probably only check my email about once or twice a day. However, in all that time, there has never been a single thing that had required my attention and reply immediately.

As much as I love technology, and the fact that we live in an age when almost any piece of information is accessible at our fingertips, and that we can connect to almost anybody in the world, sometimes it feels even better to be disconnected.

If you haven’t joined the Minimalist Christmas Challenge yet, it’s still running daily on Twitter until Dec 25th. I hope to see you there!

  • Well, that unsubscribe tip really saved me time – I was an early adopter of Google Reader, and had about 400 Feeds whose posts I mostly ignored. I am down to 20 now (minimal student is in them), and this makes the remaining one more worthy.

  • This week was great! I finally deactivated my facebook account, subscribed from a whole bunch of pointless newsletters, and got the blogs I follow down to 17, from 50+. This challenge is really helping me, so thanks so much!

  • Were you looking at my bookcase?! I used to have a shelf devoted to “need to read” books. Ended up giving them all away! Now if I am wavering on a book, I will give it 15 minutes or 15 pages..and if I’m not into it – at least I tried AND I can give it away or donate it ASAP instead of letting it sit there unread for a year (or two).

    I needed to read that about scanning papers. I have too many. The idea of reducing those pages to a computer file is so appealing!