One Simple Step to a Less Cluttered Internet Experience

Photo via Austin Radcliffe

It’s overwhelming to consider the vastness of the Internet. As you click or tap your way trippingly from link to link and tab to tab, scrolling through tweets, skimming articles, watching videos, consuming and participating in conversations, you realize just how deep the black hole goes.

For every mesmerizing Instagram profile you browse, there are hundreds of millions more. For every page of search results you scroll down, there are thousands upon thousands beyond that one.

If you have even a hint of Type A in you, or even just buy into the benefits of hacking your productivity and organization, your deepest desire while engaging in the above activities might be to categorize and catalogue all the various bits and bytes of online content you come across that fall into any useful bucket—“to read,” “inspiration,” “business concepts,” “blog post ideas”—eventually, thereby, organizing the entire Internet.

Isn’t it a calming, everything-in-its-place sort of fulfilled feeling to imagine every single piece of digital content out there cleanly grouped, sorted, and labeled?

No? Just me? Well. Even if you’re not a productivity perfectionist, here’s a helpful tip for an uncluttered Internet experience:

Do only ONE thing with every piece of digital content you touch.

Bookmark a blog post with ONE tool, add a Twitter account to ONE Twitter list, dd a photo to ONE inspiration file, file an email into ONE folder. Out of the various digital workflow tools in your arsenal—Google Apps, Pocket, Evernote, Trello, Dropbox, whatever—decide how and why to use each in the context of the others.

For example, save articles you’d like to read to Pocket, and only Pocket. Upload files you need access to everywhere to Dropbox, and only to Dropbox.

The benefit, chiefly, is resisting your impulse to pin down as steadfastly as possible every article and piece of media you encounter which is, of course, a completely futile mission, not to mention will drive you insane (speaking from experience). 

But more importantly, following the “Do only one thing” rule a) keeps you organized so that you know precisely where to retrieve your saved content and b) cuts down on time both on the front end when you actually file away the content, and on the back end, when you're seeking it out again.

The Internet gives us access to a rich pool of information that fuels our work and our lives. At every touchpoint, it threatens to inundate us with that deluge. Resist the flood not by panicking over the enormity—you will never reach the end of the Internet, just like you’ll never read all the books in your local library or watch every episode of every TV show available—but by, in your regular encounters with information you would like to retain for the future, only saving nuggets of content that are truly meaningful or useful, and in such a way that is itself meaningful and useful.

What do you think? Do you have tactics of your own to keep yourself organized in your Internet activities? Share below or on Twitter @AllisonStadd.