Sam Lester

Digital mess

February 1, 2015

I’m generally quite an untidy person. I like things clean, but untidiness doesn’t bother me, as long as I can find what I want.

The same is true for my digital life – from bookmarks and browser tabs to downloads and the desktop it’s generally pretty untidy. I often try to be organised, to put files in neat folders instead of on my desktop and archive the old emails from my inbox. Ultimately it never works out - soon enough I’m too busy or lazy to sort it out and the clutter piles up again, becoming too big a task to tackle.

Luckily for me, it’s not really a problem these days. Search is faster and more convenient than ever and no matter how many files I accumulate on my external hard drives there are always bigger, cheaper drives to fill. It’s messy but I can find what I want – for the moment that’s all I need.

There’s a lot of apps out there trying to make us more organised. For email in particular the world seems to be full of products promoting ’inbox zero’ as the ultimate digital organisational nirvana – a state where everything is neatly archived and hidden away. I’ve tried a few of these but the pragmatist in me always screams that organising emails is pointless when I can already find what I need with search.

From those like me to the hyper-organised everyone has a different tolerance for digital mess. The curious thing is that, in my experience at least, those who are tidy and organised in real life aren’t always the tidy ones digitally and vice versa.

Maybe my lack of organisation will catch up to me eventually, when there are too many files and emails to find what I need effectively. Right now though it feels like technology will only make finding things easier in the years to come.