Digital Clutter: Part Deux

Recently I watched a documentary about the planet Saturn with my six-year old son. He has told us for over two years he wants to be an astrophysicist when he grows up so when I saw the opportunity to watch this movie with him I thought “why not.”


He wasn’t so sure he wanted to sit through the movie, but he relented and we watched it.


The movie consisted of over seven million still pictures stitched together, essentially telling the story of the Cassini space probe. It is incredible that with the aid of computers we can do so much with so many pictures.


If your digital picture storage approach is anything like ours, this would be quite an undertaking even with 7,000 pictures let alone any more you might have today or in the future (we have north of 50,000 images).


We’ve made attempts over the years to bring some order to the chaos, but between different picture library structures (at one point we switched from a PC to Mac environment), to dealing with a mix of iPhoto libraries and legacy digital pictures that pre-date iPhoto, we still have chaos.


Besides being a bit in awe over the fact that anyone could bring order to the chaos of over seven million pictures, and learning a bunch about Cassini, one segment of the movie really stood out.


One picture showed several people sitting on a park bench outside staring at their phone. The narrater left me wondering about where we have gone as a people. Our ancestors once looked up at the cosmos. They named constellations based on the animals they recognized in the patterns of the stars. They were left in awe of the Milky Way.


Nowadays many of us look up and see a handful of stars and then we go back to looking down at our phones. We are missing the grandeur of the universe… it’s been replaced by the flicker of the blue lights of our technology and the blazing brightness of street lights.


We live in a world of disorganized digital clutter (think our picture collections) and thousands of blinking pixels. Instead of looking out at the world around us or up at the cosmos, we look down at these wonderful creations of human ingenuity – smart phones, tablets and computers.


Yet many of us crave more. More fulfillment, more holistic living. We crave more time with family and friends. But we are surrounded by digital clutter that calls our attention back to the screen.


Yesterday we talked in our blog about email clutter. Today, it’s about other forms of digital clutter.


Clutter - like those annoying notifications on our screen of the latest social media post, or the block party event your best friend's brother is going to, or the next big sale. We have multiple social media accounts that we need to scroll through multiple times a day – because if we miss something, the world might come to an end.


Like those emails, other forms of digital clutter can inhibit us from living life and take us away from our goals. Here at Trevi, we are on a mission to help you, our readers, find ways to eliminate the distractions in life. We want to offer up some ideas that will help you do that. We hope as you eliminate some of the clutter you will find time to focus on your goals, and time to focus on improving your personal finances, so you can feel just a little bit more free in this world.


Here are a few tips to deal with digital clutter:

  • Don’t spend all your free time on social media. Take your daily scroll through your feeds, but find other ways to use some of that free time. Social media is no substitute for getting out and experiencing life.
  • Organize your pictures. At least by date. Or by event. Do something that will be easy and help you find those special pictures quickly in the future. Maybe tag your pictures with the people or places in them.
  • There is more to life than the flickering screen. Spend some time chatting with the people who are important to you.
  • You don’t need to be on every social media platform. Find one or two social media streams that really meets the needs you have for online interaction.
  • Take time to look around - don’t always keep your gaze down on your technology.
  • Look up and check out the night sky. And when you get away from the city lights make sure to really check out the night sky. There are billions of stars out there, you just need to get out and take a look.

Working towards improving your finances is a very important goal - but it does take some time. As you consider your next steps on that front (like building and working toward a controlled budget and saving more), don’t forget that life is about much more than money. So as you work towards those goals, find ways to eliminate the noise and distraction of digital clutter in your lives. This will help free you to live into who you are really are and give you a few extra minutes in the day to think about where your finances are currently, and where they need to go.

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