It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?
-Henry David Thoreau
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Limiting Your Collection Places – Including Technologically

You’ve heard me say this before: “I love containers” – all of them: any shape, material, size, etc.  I absolutely drool over them.  And fight the temptation to bring them all home.  It can be a problem.  I’ve ended up with large boxes just filled with empty containers – waiting for the perfect thing to use them for.  You could say I have a tendency to “hoard” them.  They are always useful – at least they have the potential for it.  Yet, there’s the point – potential usefulness.  Just because something is or can be useful does not make it worth using or keeping.  Also, “useful” is subjective – is it actually useful for you and your life?  This applies to technological solutions – programs and apps – as well.

How are containers and programs/apps alike?

  • They are designed to hold things within them.
  • They are there in essence to benefit us – make our lives easier.
  • It can be too easy to go overboard – collect different options.
  • With too many being used it’s all too easy to lose track of where things are.
  • It can be easy to get the “container” before you’ve identified your specific need.
  • Neither are the end-all, be-all answer for your stuff.

Recently in my newsletter I mentioned my “hoarding” of quotes and how I have a great program that contains them well.  That didn’t stop me from drooling over programs that were designed for the organization of quotes.  My husband cautioned me to avoid them; one of the reasons is that some software can become irrelevant quickly.  Yet, there’s a more important reason to avoid collecting programs or apps – how much do you want to disperse the information you are saving?

Sure, there are programs designed for this exact type of information and getting it organized.  Then there’s this program for that type of information.  This can go on ad infinitum probably.  And it might be tempting.  Yet, then you have to keep track of where your specific information is as well as the data itself.  It’s easier when just a few programs can help you maintain and organize various types of information.

The program I use to organize my quotes, NoteShare, is also used extensively for recipes, craft projects, and other lists.  The features of the program fit my needs in more than one context, although I’m contemplating alternatives for my collection of quotes, i.e. EverNote.  With NoteShare, between the ease of adding images and the wonderful ability to expand and collapse entries keeps the various files manageable, the program is quite versatile.

Just as with the extensive options for types of containers, we are now overloaded with choices for containing our information – both with the devices as well as the software.  With all the capabilities of the various devices it can be tempting, as well as inexpensive, to collect software to handle each different types of information we need and want to keep.  One of the obvious challenges though is that many programs can overlap in their ability and function – and then where did you actually store the information?

We need to be thoughtful about what we truly need and make sure it will help us.  A container will become cumbersome when we have too much or too little to store within it – as well as any number of other factors that make them counterproductive to our lives.  In fact containerizing isn’t even the right answer sometimes.  The options for containing our digital stuff need to be equally deliberate about – what do you need?  How will it help you?  Sometimes that means using programs that are extremely versatile, while at other times you have specific needs – like a photographer using complex photo editing software that would exasperate the rest of us.

The solutions that will work for each of us will not always be obvious.  Similar to setting up organizing systems that we think will work well for us that fall flat; finding the right containers – if containers are even needed for this or that – might well be a process.  I liked EverNote when I started using it, yet didn’t appreciate how versatile it was.  It wasn’t a “container” that I used much while now I’m using it more and more.  Our solutions for containing our stuff – physical or digital – can evolve.  We just want to make sure that we remain mindful about our choices, which will help us from getting overwhelmed with our stuff (again).

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