Decluttering my digital inboxes

I'm a loose Inbox = 0 adherent. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, you can read plenty about it here.)

As an example, my personal email inbox is currently at 3, and my work email inbox is at 10. This is pretty damn good for me, and I've spent a chunk of 2009 so far getting to this happy place. Of course, those aren't my only inboxes! There's the physical mail inbox, of course, but recently my attention has been forced to include inboxes from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr, Livejournal, and Delicious. The inconsistency of how they handle messaging — and how I handle messaging from each source, which is in turn based on a mishmash of factors from quirks of their UI to the social nuances of who I'm connected to on each platform — means that I haven't been able to route all of those usefully into one box, so lo, there are many boxes. All of those currently set to 0, as part of the same New Year's … I can't quite say resolutions, because I haven't fully articulated them yet, but New Year's impulses. I'm also not counting on staying in this happy place, because life happens and you can't spend all your time making things unbold.

(On the other hand, I'm nowhere near as bold as Danah Boyd on the inbox front. I am full of admiration for her approach, however.)

And then there's my feed reader. I'm a happy Bloglines user, and I'm reasonably content with it — the recentish redesign removed some of the clunkiness, and at the time I made my fateful RSS Reader decision (do you know where you were when you decided on a RSS reader?) it was a pleasure to use a non-Google product because it was demonstrably better than the Google product. I understand that the tables may now have been turned, but I don't want to know about it. I'm a feed addict, and the thing had become a source of stress — too many feeds unread for too long, all that boldness taunting me with missed content. So, I'm in the middle of a huge revamp. The first step was ditching many feeds that I don't like, don't read often enough, or post too frequently. The second was adding a few — sparingly — that I want to follow in the new year. The third, and longest, is taking all of the pinned articles (and I had 1000+ of those) and either reading them, deleting them, or tagging them in Delicious. (I'm rapidly approaching the crazy person tier of Delicious users.)

This all may sound a little obsessive. Actually, it is a little obsessive. But if I clear the decks enough, it will remove some nagging sources of stress in my life while allowing me to keep up with what I want to keep up with, rather than running away from it all entirely (as tempting as that sometimes is). It's the digital equivalent of taking those 300 New Yorkers you have stacked up on your coffee table and packing them off to recycling, only you actually get to keep the good articles.

Next: more exciting obessiveness with feeds and emails!

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