Spring Cleaning: Data Overload

Courtesy of 2care.com
Have you ever found yourself staring in disbelief at your email inbox numbers trying to figure out how and why you have 2501 messages, with over half unread? Or spam? Or ads? 

Have you ever found yourself frustrated because you just received the dreaded out of disk space error message? 

Or unable to find that one photo of your daughter's kindergarten graduation in the myriad of photos in disarray and disorder? 

Or your iTunes account now contains over 700 unorganized songs?

I'm right there with you! But the thing is, it doesn't have to be that way. There are some easy ways to minimize the headaches of data overload, but they do take a little time to start off. But once you do, I highly suggest setting up 15 to 30 minutes one day out of the week to perform maintenance on your data. 

First of all, folders can be your friend. Regardless of what email system you use, you are able to set up filters to put your email in specific folders as soon as you receive them. I have one for bills, family, besties, stuff to save, and the like. When setting up the filters, all you need is the email address of the people or organizations you wish to filter into a specific folder. Once you do, the emails will go directly to that folder. Just don't forget about them. Especially that one called "Bills". 

Next, if you purchased something in the past or joined an subscription list to a site you no longer visit, it is time to unsubscribe. Most emails from these organizations include an "opt-out" or "unsubscribe" link at the bottom of the email. All you need to do is to click, verify or enter your email, and click. Once you receive the confirmation for the unsubscribe, then you should no longer receive emails from them anymore. If not, then mark the emails as "spam". Most web-based email sites collect the information to help others get their inboxes under control. 

Now, that photo headache. Set a folder specifically for each type of photo you have: Christmas, Birthdays, Graduations, and Miscellaneous. Once you have done that, slowly go through the photos and move them into their specified folders. Make sure you rename your photos to a name that best describes the photo. Also, just like in decluttering your home, you only need to keep those photos that are most valuable. You know, those precious ones where your son hits his first home run in little league, your daughter standing on point in her first recital, or photos that put you and your family in their best light. 

Also, make sure you back up your photo collection. My last laptop died and I lost everything on it. You can burn them to CDs, an external hard drive, or a remote backup server. I use Mozy to backup serve as an external backup. You are allowed up to 2GB of files. I find that "zipping" files helps save space. 

And, finally...iTunes. Did you know you can create playlists? Just as you set up your photos into folders, you can setup your iTunes list into playlists. I have mine set up to 80s, Workout, Inspirational, and Rocking Out. It makes it easier to upload only what you want on your iPod at that time. I know I have way too many for my little 3rd Gen Nano, so I need to make it where I only download what I need. 

Data overload doesn't have to be a way of life. Organized data can make life much easier.