By Brian X. Chen
Jan. 23, 2019, 5 c
With a new year and a new Netflix show that features the Japanese organizing guru Marie Kondo on the art of “Tidying Up,” many of us are experimenting with how to simplify our lives by purging our homes of unwanted possessions.
But what about the stuff we don’t see?
Think about the digital junk we hoard, like the tens of thousands of photos bloating our smartphones or the backlog of files cluttering our computer drives, such as old work presentations, expense receipts and screenshots we have not opened in years.
In addition to the digital mess, tech hardware adds to the pile of junk that sparks no joy in our lives. Everyone has a drawer full of ancient cellphones, tangled-up wires and earphones that are never touched. And the things we do use every day, like charging cables strewn around the house, are an eyesore.
Why are people so terrible about tech hoarding? Cary Fortin, a professional organizer for the company New Minimalism, summed it up: “We don’t really think about the cost of holding on to things, but we think about the cost of needing it one day and not having it.”
Earlier this summer we talked about F.O.B.O. — the Fear of Better Options — and how it can sometimes lead us to paralysis when we’re trying to make a decision.
To refresh, F.O.B.O. gives a name to that spiral we fall into when we obsessively research every possible option when faced with a decision, fearing we’ll miss out on the “best” one. It can lead to indecision (duh), regret and even lower levels of happiness. One of the solutions I threw out was finding the Mostly Fine Decision — the outcome you’d be fine with, even if it’s not the absolute best possible outcome.
Hundreds of readers emailed and tweeted saying they recognized their own behavior, but one reader email in particular caught my attention: a note from Patrick McGinnis.
By Tim Herrera
July 9, 2018
Here’s a list of things I did before starting this newsletter: I filled out the documents to renew my passport; clipped my cat’s nails; bought some household items; responded to a few Instagram DMs; and ate a snack because I was hungry.
Some of those tasks were relatively urgent — I need to get my passport in order soon, and those Instagram DMs were weighing on me. But none of those tasks were as important as writing this newsletter. I know I needed to get this done, but the call of those minor-yet-urgent tasks was too strong.
To all of my procrastinators out there, I offer an explanation: Your brain is working against you, and it’s because of a phenomenon called the urgency effect.
“Picture a 2×2 square with four boxes. At the top of the square are two labels: Urgent and non-urgent. On the left are two other labels: Importantand not important.