Digital Hoarding
Digital Life

Confessions of a Hoarder

Clutter is one of main enemies in my house.  I hate it so much that at least once or twice a year, I make it a point to go through every nook and cranny in my home and purge it of things I don’t need or haven’t used.  This includes clothes, kitchen utensils and gadgets, shoes, beauty things, books, linens, etc.  I am pretty ruthless when it comes to what I get rid of.  As a matter of fact, I hate it so much that for the most part, my house has been devoid of any trinkets or tchotchkes and I don’t store anything on my kitchen counters except for the bread box, knife block, paper towel holder and wine rack (the essentials).

So one would think this extends to all areas of my life and for the most part, it does.  I’m relentlessly organized and clean at work.  My car sometimes teeters on the edge of being bad but once it gets overwhelming I have to stop what I’m doing and clean it out too otherwise I start to panic a bit.

I think it’s because clutter makes my brain and my life feel cluttered.  If things in my life aren’t in order and I can’t visually see “clean” and “organized” then I don’t feel like my life is organized and I can’t get things done until life is organized.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to carry over into my digital life.

These past few days I’ve spent way too many hours trying to organize my digital life and create some sort of workflow and system for storing and processing everything I have.  It wasn’t enough to just configure this new laptop – I wanted to treat it as a fresh start, a way to make some sense of the online world so that I could enjoy it and participate to the fullest (because again, I don’t feel like I can get things done unless my life is organized).

And through these many many hours (essentially days), I’ve come to realize I’m a hoarder … a DATA hoarder!

I have so much digital STUFF in random unorganized places and upon attempting this whole new setup of everything, I found myself falling into a rabbit hole and unable to get out.  And it still irks me that I was unable to process it all, though to be realistic, it’s really going to take some time.

The problem with this data hoarding is that it’s coupled with an inherent paranoia of short-term information availability.

By that I mean this: I see so many pretty things on the Internet. Things I want to do for the house, words I want to remember, inspiration for the future, recipes, recommendations, projects. And because I know myself and my constant need to start over and I know the Internet – domains expire, addresses move – I always feel like just bookmarking those things isn’t enough because what if I come back and all of a sudden it’s gone?  What if I need it and I can’t find it? Thus, I find myself saving stuff I like off to a place where I can always find it.  There’s a system to that, but it’s been pretty much unorganized for awhile so I need to make sense of it.

Here’s what I need [want have] to do:


I have probably close to 100 floppy disks that I need to check for data because something in me wants to take that data and archive it somewhere, since a lot of it is late 90s/early 2000 work that I did.  Web design (probably some screen shots), papers from college (some I’m really proud of), poems, stories.  All things I would love to combine together in a PDF and maybe put into a book.  Because I like to laugh at myself.  And it might be something neat to share with people later.

I’d have to buy a USB floppy disk drive though since there’s not a computer left in my house with one.


Awhile back, I took my digital photos from the past eleven years that I had burned onto various CDs (since in the early days, we only had 750MB versus now with 4GB DVDs and external storage) and dropped them into folders organized by year on an external drive.  Most of those photos were culled from various backup discs and had been mixed in with documents and other things.  The problem I have is I’m terrified of what happens if the external drive fails – I’d lose eleven years (and counting!) worth of pictures (I don’t have the earlier disks anymore & even if I did, they weren’t organized by any means).  So I’d like to burn those organized folders back onto a more permanent form of media … just in case.


Oh, my music is the bane of my existence!  I’ve had various ways of storing and playing it over the years so there was never a form of organization with it.  I now have my CD collection from high school (full albums that I bought), my mix CDs from my early college Napster days and various large MP3 backup CDs and DVDs from the past few years.  I don’t have a central location for it all.  I don’t have a sense of organization.  If I pulled them all into my iTunes, the ID3 tags would be all jacked up.  And I’m missing some good music that I’d love to have – and just never have time to download.  I’d like to get them all localized in a central and organized place that can be accessed from all of our system and all of ours devices, without having to worry about my phone not being synced with my iTunes library.  And I’d like all my ID3 tags and all of the track data to be organized accordingly with no duplicates, correct albums, artist and track names and all album art.  AND then I’ll concentrate on making some logical playlists.


I need to make recovery CDs of the new laptop because let me tell you, it was a BITCH trying to restore my old laptop and my desktop to factory settings since I didn’t have recovery disks and the OS CDs I did own have long since disappeared somewhere.  I also need to make a hard copy of all of the customizations I use on a regular basis (I’m not really worried about programs since I can get most of them off the Internet).  This include fonts, Photoshop actions and brushes, etc.  I need them in a place where I remember where they are and they can be kept current and up to date.


I do still have a ton of data backup discs from various computers over the past few years.  These include website work, documents, notes, videos, etc. – these are all things I would like to get organized again into some sort of logical order on a permanent piece of media, maybe one or two discs, where if I needed or wanted to peruse anything, I could pull that one particular disc and find what I was looking for.  Without having to filter through tons of duplicates.


I use Evernote to archive the data from the Internet that I’m afraid will disappear into the ether if I don’t place it somewhere more permanent.  The problem was, while I was slightly organized in the beginning, it kind of became a dumping ground.  I need to utilize it better, create better folders and tags and weed out some of the data that would be better served other places (like Pinterest).  Once I do that, I can have a better idea of what needs to go in Evernote, find it when I need it and what is better served on Pinterest, which is really a place for me to visually look at pretty things and get inspired.


I have many many books in digital format that I’ve downloaded and put in my Nook and the problem I have is I can’t read them fast enough to keep up with not only my wish list but the ever growing collection.  Basically, the books come faster than I can finish them.  So I need to make sure I can keep my Good Reads as my hub for what I’m reading, what I have and need to read and what I don’t have and want to read (so I know what to find).  And then I need to make sure the file list and display data for the Nook has a simple enough system to where I can easily look at it and tell what I’ve got on there and whether I’ve added something.

And our movies – I’ve got copies and copies of discs that need to be put in a binder with some sort of organization because otherwise, they just sit around in stacks.

And that’s not even going into our XBox games.

That’s about it for now.  I’m sure there’s more – I’d have to consult my to-do list that currently has 264 items on it (for various categories, quite a few of them long term so it’s not too bad).  What do you think?  Am I making it too hard on myself?  Is my hoarding just a side effect of obsessive compulsion or Type-A craziness?  Do you have the same issues I do?  How do you handle them?

Image via Jezebel.

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