E- Hoarding is the practice of keeping digital information and documentation that is of little value or unknown value. The result of e-hoarding is extreme difficulty retrieving information, time wasted replacing information, frustrating disorganization, and anxiety or stress at the prospect of purging digital documentation. Why does e-hoarding occur? One contributing factor is inundation. In 2010, the typical corporate user sends and receives about 110 messages daily. Roughly 18% of emails received is spam, comprising both actual spam and “graymail” (i.e. unwanted newsletters, alerts, etc.) Inundation happens to all of us. The difference with e-hoarders is that they have weak or no criteria for selecting which information to save and which not to. In the absence of selection criteria, e-hoarders tend to save most of their digital stuff including emails, attachments, bookmarks, blogs, and RSS feeds. Also, when information is 24/7 it can all feel the same. It all seems important at once. Another contributing factor to e-hoarding is fear of being left behind or not keeping up.
A recent Harvard Education blog describes some websites as ‘information spigots ’that create not only a time-suck of information exploration, but also “…the sense of obligation that accompanies” that goes with it. “When given such reliable streams of information, it’s all too common to feel constantly behind; constantly in need of catching up. That sense of obligation, often, is misplaced.”
A final factor is time. Because e-hoarders are always in semi-overwhelm finding the time to actually read or review information as it arrives is difficult. In the absence of actively deciding whether to keep something or not, an e-hoarder will passively saves all the information.
If you have a tendency to e-hoard, here’s what to do:
* Schedule a purge hour into the mainstream of your schedule once per week
* Figure out your criteria for keeping stuff. ‘Concise’ and ‘unique’ are my favorites.
* Don’t keep stuff you already know. Go for new knowledge
* Hire a professional organizer to help you