Tending to your digital garden


What would you do if you opened your task app and found it empty? No tasks, no projects, no ideas—nothing. (And you don’t have a backup.)

Would you panic? Not be able to do any work. Or would you see it as an opportunity to make a new and better list?

That’s what I would do.

In fact, periodically, that’s exactly what I do. I put all my tasks and projects out of sight and build a new list from scratch. The new list is, of course, much shorter than the original. Which is the point. The new list contains the most important things I know I have to do. No fluff, no busy work.

Just the essentials.

Once I’ve created the new list from memory, I go through the old lists and add a few things to the new list I’d forgotten. But only a few. The point of this exercise is to get rid of the clutter so I can focus (and do) the most important tasks and work on the most valuable projects.

My re-constituted list is a joy to look at and work through. Because it isn’t a never-ending mass of “too many,” it’s a lean sprinkling of “just right”.

I do something similar with my notes. I have too many to do this much housecleaning, but I regularly archive old notes, eliminate duplicates, and organize notes that relate to current, upcoming, or ongoing projects.

And I suggest you do the same.  

The best time to do this is when you start using a new app. It feels good to populate your shiny new app with the things that are most important to you.

If you’re not not changing apps, or you’re not sure about doing this, start with your someday/maybe list. You know, that dumping ground of ideas you told yourself you want to get to one day. Be ruthless, here. Cut out most of them. (If it’s something you really want to do someday, it will find its way back onto your list).

When you reduce the digital clutter in your life, it helps you identify your priorities and focus on them. You do your most important work, your day is likely shorter and less stressful, and you have peace of mind knowing you’re on top of your work.

You’re doing what’s important, not just staying busy.