Ah, now you see why I told you to back up everything. This way, if you delete the WRONG thing, you can likely get it back.
While Retrograde is usually about re: revisit, revise, redo, reconsider… etc., it is also about clearing out the stuff that gets in our way. The clutter takes on both the physical and the abstract. When I clear something out on my computer, I actually feel the same sense of release that I get from cleaning out physical clutter in my home. And yes, physical clutter will be coming, but since I’m a believer in small steps, for today, we’re still focusing on the electronic aspect of our lives.
Stuff to delete:
- Dead bookmarks.
You certainly CAN go through each and every bookmark and review it, but least if you have a Firefox browser, you shouldn’t have to. If you backed up your bookmarks (which you hopefully now have as a scheduled task in your online calendar reminders) you have little to worry about if you inadvertently delete the wrong bookmark.
- Accounts you no longer use
Put your Myspace page out of its misery. If you no longer use Livejournal or Photobucket, close it. If you have scores of little accounts left from the social networking boom, shut those puppies down. You can back up those blogs you no longer use – even Diaryland, although it requires MovableType . If you’re not sure whether to close it or let it go, ask yourself: have I used this in the last year? Is there ANYONE I still stay connected to this way? If you want to let any lingerers know where to find you, send out that one last bulletin – and then move on.
- Old Emails/Emails you never want to contact accidentally
This is one area where I am frequently displeased with Google, since it’s set to save freaking everything and there’s some stuff and some people I just plain want to lose. Still, I try. First, I try to go through my inbox and just delete the stuff I know I won’t read anyway. Then I pull up my contacts list – if I know an email has changed, or that a person is no longer connected to me, I delete it. If the person contacts me again, Google will save it for me to clean out again at the next retrograde. For Google, just go to CONTACTS, click ALL CONTACTS and clean those puppies out. This is a good time to look over any contact groups you have organized and clean up those that no longer apply. Once you’re done, export that contact file into your Dropbox or equivalent backup safe place.
Along with emails, look at other message repositories: Facebook, Etsy, even Flickr, have places where messages can just hang out forever.
- Your digital desktop
Clean up those program shortcut icons you never use. You won’t delete the program, I promise, especially in Windows. Just clean that puppy up.
About Deleting Old Files
This takes more thought and is up to you. Some people are digital hoarders as much as they are physical, and want to save EVERYTHING. Other people see the benefit in letting things go.
Here are my suggested guidelines:
- Is the material dated, such as flyers for your kid’s 2nd grade fundraiser that happened 10 years ago? Unless you run a graphic design service, delete it.
- Is the project finished? Will you need to keep the files as any type of proof of work?
- Especially the case in photos: are the images backed up anywhere else? Photo files are large and eat serious CPU storage space. Zipping them and storing them periodically, as well as getting a digital photo service (such as Flickr) can really free up your computer for the new stuff. You may want to consider burning copies to CD while you’re at it, or possibly moving them to a zip drive if you have the means.
- Is it a game you haven’t played in more than 6 months? Do you see yourself playing it anytime in the future?
- For financial documents: if (applies in the US only) it’s more than 7 years old, delete it. Exceptions are for contractual agreements still in effect.
This tracking down and deleting can take awhile; as in many things that will be posted this month, you may not be able to complete it all in one day.