February 4, 2010

Cluttered and Cumbersome

Buona sera. I am still on a journey, attempting to simplify things in my life and to remove as much clutter as I can. It started with the possessions around the house. This led to introspection. (Nicky hates it when I use that word, I put it in there just for him.) I was asking myself why I am hanging onto some things, even though I had removed other things that are just taking up space.

It is much, much easier to get things done if you have clutter removed (or at least reduced) in your life.If you are interested in this area (or arena), there is some good material at Unclutterer.

This moved into an effort to simplify my life itself. But as I have said many times before, balance is the key word. I don't want to live an austere or extreme minimalist lifestyle because I simply like gadgets, pleasures and conveniences too much. But I do not want a lifestyle that is cluttered with excessive gadgets, pleasures and conveniences. I have to have a balance.

I do not want an iPhone. It's an overblown gadget, and I want my telephone to be separate from any organizer that I use. Sure, my telephone has some gadgetry to it, but I can't help that. I just ignore it. Someday, I'll do an article on stuff that is overdone and could be simpler.

One of the writers that I have been reading lately is Leo, author of Zen Habits Simple Productivity and Zen Habits Offloaded. He goes further than I am willing to go in simplifying, but I can still learn from him. One thing he pointed out is My Text File, a way to write just text without all of the clutter (you do need a Google account to use it, however). You can save it and all, but one thing I don't get: Why not use the simple text editor that comes with your computer? The only real plus that I can see for this is that you can edit this text anywhere that you have an Internet connection. But if you have to sign up for a Google account, you may as well use Google Docs and just keep it simple.

Leo also likes a bookmark saver called Pinboard. There is a small fee to sign up (as a spam reduction tool), and you can store your bookmarks online in an uncluttered format. They can be for the world to see, or for your eyes only. I should point out that Xmarks is a free service that lets you synchronize your bookmarks between browsers. I use it to back up my Firefox bookmarks and passwords, and I can access them online as well as synchronize them between computers. Xmarks is for your eyes only, and Pinboard has the option of being public and/or private.

There is a wide world out there that irritates the hell out of me. That is the "social networking" stuff. Big, overblown applications to share your stuff (Stumble Upon, Del.icio.us, Digg and so forth). Well, most people do not care what I like, and I do not care what they like. Is this a mark of conceit that people think everyone wants to know what they like?

But I digress.

I am tired of the clutter online, and tired of clutter in my life. All of the clutter, the contraptions, the complications — no wonder many of us want to simplify. When I signed up for Facebook, someone said, "Oh, good, now we can stay in touch!" Uh, yeah. You already have my e-mail address. Facebook is clutter and full of distractions unless you use only the few things you really want to use. MySpace? Fuggedaboudit! Glitz for kids.

Less crap in our lives is less distraction. And less distraction leaves more time for what is important to us.

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