One of the things I’ve been trying to do during my annual holiday and into the new year is work on my digital hygiene. That is, as part of my continuing efforts to simplify and optimise I’m cleaning up all the applications and data I create.

The eventual goal of this is a less stressful existence — Marie Kondo so to speak. Does this data bring joy?

But boy oh boy is this a problem, it’s quite astounding how much information I’ve been creating of such little value over so long; 10-year-old Evernote’s, 7-year-old iPhone Notes, half-completed domain name setups.

So I’ve been ruthless in optimisation:

  • Purging emails (my personal email filters, deletes and archives to zero daily)
  • Archiving Evernote notebooks, I did start to clean them out one by one but concluded a mass reset was more efficient.
  • Deleting notes and to-dos from random apps.
  • Deleting iPhone apps and PC apps that aren’t used, so many good intentions unfulfilled.
  • Logging into old services and removing them, I had a basecamp account that was over 12 years old!
  • I am cleaning up Kindle and device registrations from any device/service registration.
  • I am completing 2nd-factor authenticator set up on all online accounts.
  • Deleting domains and hosting, old databases, cleaning up file systems
  • Patching and updating all software on all devices
  • Unsubscribe from email newsletters

I know some is the stuff I’ve removed is nearly a decade old and takes hours to complete and weeks to discover the extent. The accumulation makes me wonder about the opportunities abandoned accounts and data gives to those with evil intent.

But why do I bother, after all, most of these things have no impact on me day to day, if I’d forgotten that recipe from 2007, why does it matter now?

Well, there’s a psychological benefit to it all, firstly there’s the feeling of completion as you tidy these things off. Secondly, many of these things are incomplete goals that are no longer relevant, taking them off the list allows me to remove the baggage of “failure” associated with them sitting there; finally, there are security and privacy benefits. Every piece of data I don’t keep is another piece that can’t be stolen.

Hopefully one day, I’ll finish :)