How to 'Marie Kondo' your tech life

Just because it's digital, doesn't mean it's not clutter, says tech reporter Brian X. Chen.

Just because it's digital, doesn't mean it's not clutter, says tech reporter Brian X. Chen

Digital clutter can be costly, in both time and money. (Michael Bocchieri/Getty Images)

This story was originally published on Feb. 1, 2019.

Many new year's resolutions have included "tidying up" with Japanese organizing guru Marie Kondo, as many of us are catching on to the benefit of simplifying our lives, and getting rid of unwanted belongings in our homes.

But what about our digital clutter?

Brian X. Chen is the lead consumer technology reporter for The New York Times. He recently wrote about how tech accessories and data — though they may not take up much physical space — still contribute to frustration and anxiety.

Brian X. Chen (Submitted by Brian X. Chen)

"Everybody's familiar with the drawer full of different cables that are tangled up," he told Spark host Nora Young. "People have tons of photos on their smartphones; documents, files, things that people never open, take up a lot of space, and just a clutter the desktop."

Brian tests a lot of technology every year, and is constantly having to manage tech products, so that makes him the perfect person to help us with our own e-hoarding!

What's his advice organizing our tangible tech mess?

Chen calls power cables the "number one culprit," and recommends getting rid of the extras."Really, you need no more than two," he said.

As for storage?

"I pretty much put everything in Ziploc bags, and I label each of the bags and that gives me a lot of peace of mind."

And what's Chen's advice for curbing our digital hoarding? He says we need to be mindful of storage. That means getting rid of duplicate photos, and files you no longer need.

"On your smartphone, you've got to get rid of the apps you haven't opened in three to six months because you don't even know what they are doing in the background. They could be gathering location data. They can be using your cellular data to download software updates," he said.

"It's not just frustrating, but it can also be expensive."

Tech clutter and digital hoarding can be costly in more ways than one — there is also a psychological cost.

"Your smartphone is your number one device. If you are hoarding all these files and applications, you're carrying your clutter around with you everywhere, so that's going to cause stress," said Chen.

"You may as well tidy it up."


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