Taking of Stock of What You’ve Got (Digitally) (Premium)

January is an interesting time of year, when many resolve to make improvements in their lives. And I've done so this past month, as I often do.

But this year, I've also resolved to make a different kind of effort, to re-examine what I already have, from a digital standpoint. And to make sure that I'm taking full advantage of the content I've paid for or otherwise acquired. It's an interesting exercise, and worth considering for yourself.

I wrote very briefly about digital decluttering at a high level back on January 1st. Since then, I've been working through a variety of personal improvement tasks that span both the physical and the virtual.

On the physical end, I've resolved to be more active each day---to mixed results so far---and to spend 2018 clearing out the boxes of crap that we moved here from Dedham. (I realize these things aren't super-interesting to most Thurrott.com readers, so I'll focus on the digital here.)

One of the things I did on the digital side was to spend a few days going through all of my browser bookmarks. I've removed the ones that are not useful, organized them better for my way of working---I exclusively use the browser's bookmarks bar for these shortcuts---and will continue evolving on this over time.

In doing this, it occurred to me that this type of task, which you might think of as curating or organizing an existing asset, could be applied to other content too. Like many, I've collected a ton of digital content---various e-books and other reading material, music, videos, and so on---over the years. And much of is just sitting there, virtually, not being used. Has, in fact, never been used, in some cases.

I paid for much of this content. Or, in the case of subscriptions, I am paying for its use on an ongoing basis. Obviously, I should probably make an effort to ensure that I'm am deriving the maximum value possible from the content, paid or not, and cull away that which is not necessary.

Getting rid of clutter---of "stuff"---is a constant effort, and something I've written and spoken about a lot over the years. And while the advantage of switching from, say, physical books to e-books is fairly obvious, I feel that it is as important to declutter your digital content as it is to do so with physical items. Minimalism is a goal, an ongoing effort, not a destination. It's something we'll never be done trying to achieve.

So, what does this mean in real-world terms?

For me, it meant starting with Pocket, the "read it later" service I use daily and recommend highly. I am a voracious reader, and Pocket has emerged as one of the key ways in which I consume written content.

I love Pocket for many reasons---you can share any article, in any browser, PC or mobile to the service, and it has a great dynamic list of recommended articles to save---but my reading list filled up more quickly than I could keep up with. Worse, I had saved multiple versions of the same types of articles in many cases...

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