For the first few years that I was on Twitter, I used the old “favourite” button to save articles that sounded interesting based on the title, but which I didn’t have time to read at that exact moment. Every week or two, I’d click on my favourite tab and skim through the articles, to see which ones still interested me. To my surprise, I removed most of them without ever reading a single word.
The same has also always been true of how I use the bookmarks feature in my web browser. I saved articles that sounded interesting, or which held information on a topic that I knew would be useful in the future. I then created folders upon folders upon folders, and thought I had the most organized collection of links any web browser had ever seen – but I never read them.
To some, this might not seem like a big deal. So what if I saved some articles and then decided not to read them? But as I continue along this journey of embracing minimalism and becoming a more conscious consumer, I’m always reminded of the bigger goal: to remove the non-essentials, so I can make room for what I really want. And the more I thought about my bookmarking habits, I realized the issue wasn’t that I was saving articles I’d probably never read – it was how much time I was wasting scrolling through content to find those articles I’d probably never read.
Life Without Bookmarks
If you’ve been subscribed to my blog for a while, you know that when I set my mind to something, I tend to go ALL IN; this was probably most evident when I was paying down debt, but it was also true when I started getting rid of my belongings. I never second-guessed myself. I just threw things in bags and boxes and got rid of it. When I decided to change my bookmarking habits, I started by taking immediate action and deleted every single bookmark and the folders I’d created for them.
I will say, I second-guessed myself once. Some of the folders were full of ideas for my blog and places I want to travel to. As I looked at some of the titles, I thought, “but I really do want to do those things, one day!”. But then I remembered there’s this magical thing called Google that will help me find what I need when I’m ready to take action; that day is not today, and the bookmarks were just digital clutter I felt the need to constantly organize. So, I selected them all, hit delete and haven’t saved one since.
Why I Hate Pinterest
Long before deleting my bookmarks, I deleted all my boards and pins on Pinterest. Last fall, when I shared a few of the ways I was trying to be more conscious about my social media consumption, I mentioned that I hate Pinterest and I felt some resistance on the topic. Be certain that just because I hate something doesn’t mean I think everyone has to. If you get value from something (physical or digital), you should keep it in your life. But here are my thoughts on it…
When I used Pinterest, I wasn’t just looking for new DIY ideas or recipes to try – I felt like I was building a page full of boards that portrayed my ideal life. The tiny house I wanted to live in one day, the unique ways I’d utilize small spaces, the garden I’d create, the pets I’d have and so on. The life that I’d love to create one day was on Pinterest… but it’s not the life I’m actually living right now. And wasting time creating those boards wasn’t helping me get what I want; it just wasted my time.
Some of my “hate” (we can call it a strong dislike) towards Pinterest probably also comes from being a blogger and knowing how bloggers are “supposed” to use it. We’re told to create boards that represent our “brand”, attract followers and bring in more traffic (to generate more money). When I tried to do that for Blonde on a Budget on Pinterest, it felt fake and forced. I love visual media but I don’t want to spend hours creating boards (and constantly updating them) just because I’m “supposed” to.
You Can’t Read, Watch and Do Everything
If we were to get technical, it’s fair to say that Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook only ask us to do one thing: scroll through our feed to see what might interest us, and either read it then or save it for later. It’s the “save it for later” part that I’m not willing to do anymore. I just can’t. If I don’t have time to read something then, there’s no point bookmarking it for later, because there’s a 99% chance I’ll never read it. And you know why? Because the next time I log on, I’m just going to see more stuff.
But what if I miss out on something? Well… so what? What’s going to happen to me? Am I going to be dismissed by my friends because I didn’t watch that video on YouTube everyone is sharing on Facebook, or miss out on the news because I don’t follow any news sources on social media? No. And if I did, I don’t really care. Because limiting myself to only consuming a small amount of the information that’s thrown at me every day means I’m probably spending more time doing what I really want to do.
“It has to be OK to say, ‘I didn’t see it/read it/watch it.’ Otherwise, you’ll have spent life catching up on Netflix, reading a backlog of top-ten lists, or looking at GIFs from co-workers. If those activities fit your goals, go for it. But if they get you no closer to achieving what you really want to achieve tomorrow, next year, or in the next five years, downgrade their relevance in your life.” – Manoush Zomorodi
Think about it this way: how many times have you said you want to try 5 new recipes each month? And how many hours have you spent pinning those recipes to Pinterest and never actually tried any of them? Or only tried a few? Similar to the way I used to buy books I wanted to read “one day”, I feel like bookmarking things was just another way of holding onto some ideas about who I thought I should be, rather than being myself and doing the things I actually want to do NOW.
I don’t want to create a bunch of boards that portray my ideal life. I want to save money, so I can make it a reality. I don’t want to save links to Pocket so I can read about the 16 books I must read in 2016. I want to read what’s on my shelf right now. And I really don’t want to spend a minute organizing digital clutter. If anything, I want to spend more time away from my phone and my computer, either getting outside or doing something creative.
Every time you check your phone, email or social media accounts, there is going to be something new for you to read, watch and do – and you can’t do it all. There aren’t enough hours in the day to consume all the information that’s thrown at us, let alone get through the backlog we create when we bookmark, pin and save things for later – and that’s ok. In fact, I think it’s great. You shouldn’t spend all your waking hours consuming information. You should be spending them living the very short life we’re given. Because the one thing I know is true about this topic it’s that we can all delete our bookmarks and pins, but we can’t get the time back that we put into saving them.
Which would you prefer?