Are you a collector? I don’t mean of something elegant like china pigs or Troll dolls…I mean are you a collector of “stuff”? Do you hold on to things, some of which may have never been used, were already used or simply aren’t needed anymore?
Not long ago I donated some clothes from my closet to charity. They were from 15 years ago and weren’t even, dare I say it, “age appropriate” for me anymore. One of the items still had the tags on it! Why was I keeping them? Even if they did fit, I wouldn’t have the nerve or occasion to wear them again. What was their hold on me?? Same goes for that receipt that had residence in my desk drawer from 3 Christmases ago “just in case” I needed to return that video game my son has long ago played and won…twice.
Recently I had the opportunity to move some data from my local network to cloud storage. The upsides were apparent; I’d have access to my data from anywhere, I would no longer have to pay for or manage backing up my info locally, it would free up local storage space, it would be more secure than where it was today, it would be more easily scalable and I could give other people access to the data if I wanted to more easily. Great, let’s do it!
I told myself this was the perfect time to go through my many years of files and folders and finally get rid of the garbage. “I won’t be moving garbage from one place to another, oh no not me” I said. This is the chance for a clean slate and some much-needed organization!
Cut to an image of me digging through my abundance of holiday decorations boxes, bags and bins and swearing that this is the year I am going to go through every bin and get rid of the things I never use instead of packing them back up in the basement at the end of the season.
Moving day looms and suddenly it’s upon me. “Holy cow, I’ve got to grab a copy of my stuff!” (Grabs entire folder along with every subfolder and file back to 1995 and moves it to the new location… because what if I need that day-off request or expense sheet I submitted back in 1998?!)
There should be a group I can join. “Hi, I’m Kristy and I’m a data hoarder.” By the way, I also used to have a messy desk and a cluttered fridge.
So, what is it? Why do I (we) do it? Is it a variation of FOMO (fear of missing out), which is so common in our lives today or maybe we simply just keep it because we can, or because we’re afraid our boss (coworker, lawyer, mother, ex-husband) will ask for it someday? (The data, not the 5-year-old bottle of salad dressing.)
Just like the messy desk or the cluttered fridge, I’ve come to realize it’s better for my sanity to clean house periodically. And so, my inbox is cleaned out regularly and yes, I recently parted ways with the day-off request from 1998. But it’s not just about personal sanity. There are so many business reasons to keep our data in check. It’s a time waster to dig through files, folders or emails looking for things, it’s a space waster, a money waster, and there is something to be said for being able to honestly answer, “No, sorry, we do not have that, our policy is to delete anything older than X years.”
Whether your clean-up applies to personal items or business data, I’m not suggesting you don’t apply some logic to this. If it’s valuable to you or your business or required for some reason, there are ways to tag it and store it properly. You can learn how to access it and employ available technology to slice it and dice it so it’s actually useful. If it’s not, then do what the frequently used saying says and “let that s— go.” I can tell you, you will feel a weight lifted you might not have even realized was there.