rm -rf *;

Posted on: 2012-05-28 23:58:55

Every 12-18 months, I go on this amazing purge-fest where nothing on my hard drive is sacred anymore. it is a time where cruft gets removed, old ideas get scrapped, disappear, or resurface. Old mail, files, tasks, music, photos, videos, applications, games, and even backups get deleted. It's not because this computer gets low on hard-drive space. Nor is it because my computer is slow or just because I like being organized and I'd rather delete stuff than get organized. On the contrary, over the past 15 years of keeping stuff I've gotten pretty decent at organizing stuff. Spotlight makes this even less important that it was.

No, the reason for this endeavor is because like a frog, I don't realize how much stuff I've forgotten, put away, or added to my todo list. Over the past 18 months I've accumulated great ideas, side-projects, and all kinds of things that I've wanted to do. All of my systems have made it really easy for me to capture ideas, organize them, file them, remind me about them, and subsequently reschedule, redirect, and shelve those projects. So in many ways, this cleanse is about removing the reminders of those things. All of that stuff serves simply as a reminder about how much time I don't have.

And it drives me absolutely bonkers.

I'm not sure if it's a gift or a curse: I'm constantly looking at ways to become better at what I do and to make everything better for myself and those around me. But I've a problem with what other people might consider "consideration blindness" -- it's so hard to figure out what is effective for the long term. In fact, it's probably more complicated than that. Often times I spend my time learning gaining new skills and making tasks easier. My ~/.profile is evidence of how many useful little snippets I've written or accumulated over the past few years.

But when I get to a point... that point... at which the ideas stop flowing. It gets filed, todo'd, and then like so many things it goes off into a holding pattern for what seems like eternity. Sometimes, these things get dusted off and work continues. Sometimes they don't. Most of them don't.

So this time around it is much different. No more filing. No more evaluation. I'm sure there are backups of some of this stuff... somewhere. Maybe not. In a few weeks my Time Machine Backups will be useless for most of this stuff. I'm sure there was probably some collateral damage. A module or something that I "needed" that is now in an unallocated block on that spinning piece of magnetically sensitive material.

There use to be a time when I panicked about data loss. Now, I feel free when it disappears. Sure, stuff like photos and keychains are backed up (several times over). But I now have a clean slate.

In the same way that a frog doesn't realize it's in boiling water I become surrounded so much stuff. It slows me down. In many way it makes me feel like I never get anything done. In reality though, there is a much different reality going on. It's the 15% of what I don't get done that has such a heavy negative impact on the 85% of stuff I do get done. So the new rules are this: