You Can’t Read, Watch and Do Everything

February 17, 2016


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?



  • Reply Rob February 17, 2016 at 12:50 pm

    I can relate to what you’re saying, Cait. The same applied to all the various soft / hard covered books that I purchased over the years as I habitually browsed through various book stores. All kinds of stuff that I planned to read (but often never got around to doing). Likewise, all the various stuff that I saved when I was still employed, prior to retiring a few years ago. Stuff that seemed interesting and/or important at the time (but turned out not to be).
    So along came the internet and e-reading with the result being that I ended up donating 100’s of books to charity. Many read once but then again many not hardly so much as browsed when first acquired.
    At least with saved internet info (docs, spreadsheets, bookmarks, url links, etc.) I’m not spending a lot of $$ (like I was with books) although your point is valid about the time spent on collecting them.
    I guess most of us are quasi “pack rats” at times, eh? Be it relating to physical stuff and/or informational stuff. I guess it all boils down to our priorities, free time, and sense of proper lifestyle balance.

    • Reply Cait Flanders February 18, 2016 at 6:15 pm

      Well I think when it comes to online articles, images, etc. it’s not so much about being a pack rat as it is getting stuck in infomania. Scrolling and scrolling, clicking and clicking, and thinking we can consume it all. But it’s impossible! So why bother trying? :)

      • Reply james March 1, 2016 at 8:56 pm

        Yes Cait, I too am stuck in infomania! In fact, thats how I ended up here at your Blog but thats a good thing eh? I only work about 6 months a year very long shifts then when I am off I get sucked into the internet for sometimes 6 – 8 hours a day mostly just surfing aimlessly. It really is an addiction and I can joke about it but I cant seem to stop. I write To Do Lists in the morning about exercising and chores I should do but the computer always wins. Maybe I should see a therapist or Life coach? Sorry to go on a self-pity rant but I do feel better writing it out! : )

  • Reply Hanna @ TheMillennialNextDoor February 17, 2016 at 12:51 pm

    Lurker just popping in to say I love your blog! You take a topic that interests me (minimalism/simplicity) and make it so personal and interesting to read about. I find myself nodding in agreement with so many of your posts, like this one! I long ago gave up on trying to “catch up” on information too. It’s a great feeling :-)

    And, FWIW, I totally agree with you about Pinterest :-)

    • Reply Cait Flanders February 18, 2016 at 6:17 pm

      Cool to hear you gave up on the idea, Hanna! What triggered it for you? :)

  • Reply Melissa February 17, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    I found this so timely, as I spent an hour this weekend cleaning out my Pocket account. It is now 20 items deep, which include a few Things to Do in England for our trip starting next week, and a couple of dress listings to review to replace my favorite work dress. Additionally, I FINALLY cleaned out my Twitter faves, half of which were “I can’t even remember why I would have liked that tweet.” I feel so much better.

    • Reply Cait Flanders February 18, 2016 at 6:26 pm

      And isn’t that crazy, though!? To spend time cleaning up what… pixels on a screen? That’s how I felt after I deleted my bookmarks and pins, anyway.

  • Reply Tawcan February 17, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    Can totally relate to what you wrote and this is probably why I rarely like anything on Twitter (in fact I only have 2 likes so far). I’m also not a fan of bookmark either. While I get the idea of Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest should be used to drive more traffic to our blogs, I use them more for my own sake and how I want to use social media for.

    It all comes down to setting our priorities. If it’s important to you, you will remember to read it.

    • Reply Cait Flanders February 18, 2016 at 6:27 pm

      Yep! I do “like” things on Twitter, but generally just some of the nice things people say online. There’s so much negativity online… it’s nice to remember that some people are positive. :)

  • Reply Lauren @ Lauren, Etc. February 17, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    I was thinking about this same topic the other day as I scrolled through an old Pinterest board. I have been challenging myself to make one new dinner receipe every week (so far, successfully), but my food board on Pinterest ended up providing me ZERO ideas. How was it possible that I had 233 pinned food items, none of which were new/appealing? I also just started using the Reading List feature in Safari, and it has become a slippery slope. Digital clutter and the FOMO it can inspire are just as big of a problem as physical clutter. And therefore I am doing my best to not read everything I see that sparks an ounce of interest, especially since my life is much more interesting beyond the screen.

    • Reply Cait Flanders February 18, 2016 at 6:31 pm

      Wow, that is a perfect example of why I don’t use Pinterest anymore, Lauren! 233 pins and 0 ideas… but it happens all the time, so you’re definitely not alone in that! I was exactly the same.

  • Reply Janna February 17, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    Funny about Pinterest, because I’ve had the opposite experience. Because I save recipes (that I do use) and bulletin board ideas (I’m in charge of the boards at my sons’ school) and crafts/experiments for kids, and cake decorating ideas (volunteer with three cake walk events a year) I don’t have to use bookmarks anymore except for email, banking and wordpress. I just store the websites that I will need access to later (to make dinner, or create a new bulletin board or for a rainy Saturday activity for the boys) on Pinterest. I think the way that I use it though, might be different than how other people use it. I follow very few people on there and usually don’t scroll through the home page, but instead go straight to my boards to look up the information that I need.

    I recently deleted half of the regular blogs I read from my wordpress reader and I am so glad I did that. It’s very nice to go to wordpress, see the new posts and actually want to read all of them right then.

    I think that, like physical clutter, mental, digital and time clutter sneak up on you and have to be reevaluated frequently.

    And YES! to spending more time outside instead of on the computer!!!!

    • Reply Cait Flanders February 18, 2016 at 6:36 pm

      Ahhh yes, your way of using Pinterest sounds like you’re TRULY just bookmarking things you need later – so if you ARE going back and checking them, that makes sense for sure. :)

  • Reply NZ Muse February 17, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    Heck, I get antsy just looking at my to-read pile of books next to bed. Digital backlog stresses me out even more.

    And word on Pinterest. I have never had an acccount (though I have managed Pinterest accounts for work). I keep putting off creating one for my blog, I just can’t be assed quite frankly.

    • Reply Cait Flanders February 18, 2016 at 6:40 pm

      BOOKS! Omg. This is literally why I got rid of my bookshelf and now keep my books in a closet. I only bring 1-2 out at a time, otherwise I feel guilty looking at all the ones I haven’t read yet lol.

  • Reply June February 17, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    So I am saving this post of yours to share to FB once I am back on FB (after Lenten). I could share it without actually GOING on FB but I think that’s cheating so I will wait. LOVE THIS POST! I have loved the week so far off of FB because I have watched TV shows without commentary, news without opinion, and not wasted time looking at what every other friend is doing. Its been fabulous!

    • Reply Cait Flanders February 18, 2016 at 6:45 pm

      Nice! I want to quit Facebook soooooo bad, but have some pretty active groups and am responsible for some client’s pages. :( But you should’ve read the desperate email I sent to a friend the other day, begging her to manage it all for me… I just want off! Can’t do it yet, though, I’m afraid.

  • Reply Tonya@Budget and the Beach February 17, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    I started creating Pinterest images for my site but I never use Pinterest myself. I was on the fence for a long time about going back or hiring someone to re-do all my images from past posts, but my goal is to save money, not outsource and therefore spend more money, and what would be my point anyway? I’m OK with not making money from my blog anymore, and that frees up the need to add more things on my to-do list and spend money doing all this stuff to make my blog “the best.” It’s very freeing. :)

    • Reply Cait Flanders February 18, 2016 at 6:46 pm

      Yea, I’m cool with making Pinterest-friendly images! That’s fine. I just don’t love when you can tell it’s all being done to make $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. (Ok, maybe that was an excessive number of dollar signs, but you get my point!) :)

  • Reply Ashley February 17, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    I have a love-hate relationship with Pinterest. I love my recipe boards but now that I analyze it I think the pins that I use most often are essentially visual bookmarks that I added directly from a website I visited previously. I use almost nothing that I found through searching Pinterest or on the feed. I hate that I let so much time slip buy mindlessly cruising the feed.

    • Reply Cait Flanders February 18, 2016 at 6:48 pm

      Can I make one suggestion (if you haven’t already done this)? Delete the app from your phone! I find I don’t look at sites on my computer as much as I used to waste time on my phone. So you can keep your account and look sometimes, but don’t spend an hour/day randomly scrolling. (Your eyes will also thank you!)

  • Reply Kayla February 17, 2016 at 6:18 pm

    Hi Cait!

    Thanks for the great post. I really resonate with the connection between virtual vs. authentic experience…after years of feeling inadequate compared to the portrayed lives of friends on facebook, I deleted it and actually ended up living more of my life, reading more, and sleeping far better! (…because I wasn’t laying in bed on FB!).

    I find I love pinterest as a ‘fun ideas’ thing, but since I too am “all or nothing”, I find I get carried away with it and could spend hours on there. Additionally, I find it makes me “want” more, which isn’t good for my budget either. I’d like to limit myself or even delete my account by the end of the year!

    You may be interested in a free app I have on my phone, called Quality Time. It tells you how much time you’ve spent on your phone, and on which apps you’ve spent your time. It also tells me how many times I’ve unlocked my phone in a day…it can easily be above 100! May be good for anyone resolving to use less tech and live their lives :)

    Thanks Cait!


    • Reply Cait Flanders February 18, 2016 at 6:50 pm

      I use a similar app called Moment (! Using it has been a GAME CHANGER, and is something I’m definitely going to write about more in the future. Thanks for the suggestion, Kayla! Has it helped you cut back on how much time you spend on your phone?

      • Reply Kayla February 18, 2016 at 9:11 pm

        Nice! It sounds just like the app I mentioned. It was a huge wake up call for me…I always hated the idea of being “that person” who was on their phone all the time, but the app showed me that on a regular weekend day I was easily racking up over 3 hours of phone time and 150+ unlocks! Now I try to keep it much lower, and appreciate the consciousness it has given me. With the extra time I have now, I’ve been spending more time working on other goals, such as reading 50 books in 2016! (…many of which I rent from the e-library here in Victoria, saving me from spending $)!

        • Reply Kayla February 19, 2016 at 7:11 am

          A side note you may have a laugh at: I’ve pared down my internet usage to checking CBC news each morning and allowing myself daily trips to your blog and GMBMFB! My end goal is total pinterest deletion so I will be totally social media free with the exception of my fave west-coast PF blogs :)

  • Reply Our Next Life February 17, 2016 at 8:00 pm

    Oh, hear hear! This habit is so notable among the people I work with — people are almost obsessive about staying up to date on every news item and social media meme, and I decided a few years back that I’m just not interested in keeping up. I will stay reasonably well informed about the news, but that’s it. And so far: no negative ramifications ever. That has been freeing to let me stay mostly unaware of whatever is happening in my Facebook feed, and to skip watching most of the shows people are talking about. Of course, I do participate on Twitter, which I enjoy for the conversations with blog friends, and I do maintain an ambitious library hold list. :-) But those are the battles I choose to fight, in a good way!

    • Reply Cait Flanders February 18, 2016 at 8:10 pm

      Not only are there no negative ramifications, but I’d also bet there have been some positive benefits! :)

  • Reply Sarah February 17, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    I am so guilty of this. I save things – blog posts, bookmarks, Instagram pics and use them as an endless To Do list. Its all stuff I’ve looked at and decided I Must (capital M!) incorporate this into my life, but I “don’t have time” to do it now, so I save it instead. And there is sits. Sometimes I get around to it, mostly it just sits there and I feel guilty because I’m not living the perfect life I think I should be. So I just went through my saved blog posts and made a list of things I wanted to remember (turns out those posts weren’t as important as originally thought) and deleted them, I’m weeding out my bookmarks (I keep repeating ‘I can Google it if I need it later” to myself…) I need to stop my tendency of taking screen shots of instagram pics and go through and delete those…. and yeah. I am so sick of creating traps for myself. It just sucks up my time and keeps me from other things. No more. Sometimes I get so frustrated with technology and just want to be rid of it all. But I just need to adjust my relationship with it.

    Also, as a result of this, I have decided to challenge myself to only have 3 tabs open at a time in my internet browser. I’m a serial over user of tabs (we are talkin double digits here…) and its just another way I ‘save’ things for later instead of dealing with them.

    • Reply Cait Flanders February 18, 2016 at 8:15 pm

      Oh, I used to be the same with tabs! I would take screenshots and send them to my friend Sarah and say HELP! Haha. Now, I only keep open what I need for THAT task. And the biggest game changer for me was closing my email tab. When I was still at my last job, we had to keep Gmail open all day because everyone used the chat program, and it was sooo distracting. After I left, I didn’t realize it was a habit I had to change, until this one week went by where I accomplished almost nothing and realized it was because I was letting my inbox control my life. Now, I’ll check it (probably too many times still) throughout the day – but the tab NEVER stays open. So you don’t have to change all your habits at once! Start with the tabs, then work on not saving/taking screenshots of things…

  • Reply Kate February 17, 2016 at 10:19 pm

    Wow great article! I literally just deleted Pinterest last night after realising I have never once re-looked at my pins after pinning (that’s a mouthful). Thanks :)

    • Reply Cait Flanders February 18, 2016 at 8:16 pm

      Haha, nice! Now you don’t have to waste another minute pinning pins to Pinterest, and can do something else you really want to do, instead!

  • Reply giulia February 18, 2016 at 1:28 am

    Is true, I’ve stopped to use Pinterest then I’ve bought book and I’ve never read them so when I started my decluttering I decided to put everything not essential and books that I wasn’t going to read and keep trying to sell them on thrifty shop, now my books collection is smaller but there are only books that i love to read again

    • Reply Cait Flanders February 18, 2016 at 8:17 pm

      I have a few of those too, Giulia! But still a lot that I have yet to read, haha.

  • Reply Maryalene February 18, 2016 at 3:01 am

    Great post! I immediately thought of Pinterest when I read your intro. I always wonder if the folks with 13k pins will ever go back and use them. I try to be very deliberate about what I pin, and then make a point to go back and use that information (I.e. try new recipes, etc.)

    But I can’t be too critical of the excess pinners since I have a to-read list of 1000 books and thousands of podcast episodes in my app queue. I can’t possibly get to them all in my lifetime. FOMO at its finest I guess!

    • Reply Cait Flanders February 18, 2016 at 8:19 pm

      Holy smokes! That’s a lot of books and podcasts. I could’ve actually added Goodreads to the list of sites I don’t use, simply because I have enough books on my own shelf to think about, let alone take the time to create a long list of ones I could read in the future… There are probably hundreds I want to read, but we’ll just never get through them all, you know? It’s physically impossible. Anyway, to each their own!

  • Reply Debby February 18, 2016 at 3:29 am

    Fabulous post, as always!

    • Reply Cait Flanders February 18, 2016 at 8:19 pm

      Thanks, Debby!

  • Reply Lisa February 18, 2016 at 6:07 am

    I am Team Pinterest, but I use it in a very different way than you did. I really only follow sustainable clothing brands and a few friends and family members. My boards are mostly full of pins that I have added to the site myself, often with my own notes for future reference from when I originally read the pages. I used to somewhat compulsively make extensive lists of things to do/make/wear/cook/etc in notebooks, which was a pain to transfer between books and sloppy to delete useless information, so Pinterest offers an easy and visual way to maintain live lists. ie: my Approved Shopping List is a board, so when I buy something from it that pin gets deleted.

    My education is in visual art and part of my job right now is graphic design, so it is actually great to have a board of reference material for my projects. When I’m sketching something out on paper or digitally, I can pull up that board on my large monitor and see multiple references at once in thumbnail size (which works super well for blocking out layouts). It’s so much easier to scroll through my collection of images than it is to save all of them on my computer and pull up bits and pieces!

    So yeah, I think the trick is to use Pinterest in a practical rather than aspirational way if it truly does serve you better than other methods. :)

    • Reply Cait Flanders February 18, 2016 at 8:21 pm

      Yep, that’s fair! And I actually did have to use it to create an inspiration board for a friend who was helping me with a design project. So I can see there are more positive ways to use it. I think because my “brand hat” is on, when it comes to that stuff, I just see it as a marketing tool… and it’s not one I want to use. :)

  • Reply Sarah Noelle @ The Yachtless February 18, 2016 at 8:09 am

    Ohhhhhh I can so relate to this….I actually deleted a lot of my bookmark folders recently and am really only actively using one folder (recipes for lunches that are easily packable for work). I figure since I’m actually using it on a regular basis, it’s worth having. It was really funny to see some of the others before I deleted them — for some, I was like, what on earth is this? Did I really make this folder?

    (Oh, and I too “strongly dislike” Pinterest. I find that I just can’t get into it. It feels several steps removed from real life, in more ways than one.)

    • Reply Cait Flanders February 18, 2016 at 8:23 pm

      Can I just say, I wish we could have coffee! Are you going to come to FinCon? It’s ok if you say no! I totally get it. But if we are ever within a somewhat close proximity to one another, I demand we hangout.

      • Reply Sarah Noelle @ The Yachtless February 19, 2016 at 4:12 am

        Aw, I would love to get coffee!
        I’m guessing I probably would not be able to make it to FinCon (I just googled the website — wow, it looks even bigger than I thought it was). But hey, you’re into traveling, so maybe you’ll happen to find yourself back in Boston one of these days! ;)

  • Reply Shelly February 18, 2016 at 8:24 am

    I am Sooooooo guilty of scrolling to try and read everything! I am also guilty of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest(not so much), and the internet in general. I am getting better though. LOL. I am more selective about what websites/blogs/podcasts I peruse on a regular basis. There is only so much time in a day, and it shouldn’t be all spent on the internet.

    • Reply Cait Flanders February 18, 2016 at 8:24 pm

      It’s good you’re becoming more selective! That’s really the most important part of this: to be aware of something and make choices that align with what you want the outcome to be. :)

  • Reply Mackenzie February 18, 2016 at 9:12 am

    Love this post Cait! I used to save emails in my inbox like recipes, etc… because at some point, I thought I’d get around to reading them or making the recipe. I’ve stopped doing that and it is very freeing :) Also, I do not have a Pinterest account nor a Facebook account, and I am totally okay with that!

    • Reply Cait Flanders February 18, 2016 at 8:26 pm

      I’m starting to get jealous of everyone who doesn’t have Facebook! I wish I could let it go (but need it for blog/freelance purposes).

      • Reply JoAnn February 24, 2016 at 8:36 pm

        I told someone the other day that I don’t do Facebook, and I thought she was going to pass out. Strangely enough, our real-life conversation kind of dwindled off after that. Like she couldn’t possibly have anything in common with someone like me. Ha! I don’t need fake friends in cyberspace or reality, thank you very much.

  • Reply Paige February 18, 2016 at 10:09 am

    Girl, you’re going to simplify yourself right off the Internet. We’ll miss you! 😉

    FYI: GREAT point about Pinterest! I actually use it to relax. Nothing soothes me faster then curating a board, so you’ll pry it out of my cold, dead hands, but I can see why it would have the opposite effect on some people.

    • Reply Cait Flanders February 18, 2016 at 8:27 pm

      Bahaha! I’ll never go totally offline… I love blogging, Twitter and Instagram. But I could definitely let go of the rest and leave it at that!

  • Reply Susan February 18, 2016 at 10:32 am

    I too have a bookmark problem, although I love to spend a few hours catching up on the real gems I wouldn’t have time to read in the moment.

    A somewhat tangentially related question: My mother is downsizing and has asked what I want to do with a trunk filled with my childhood journals (she lives 3,000 miles away so there’s some logistical issues too). The aspiring minimalist in me feels I shouldn’t hang onto them, but the writer part of me feels these are part of my development as a writer and might make good background for a future, hypothetical young adult novel or just a trip down memory lane. Someone suggested I scan them and keep digital copies, but it’s hard to justify the time or expense since there’s so many. Another person suggested choosing a few to save and destroying the others. What would you do (or do you do)?

    • Reply Cait Flanders February 18, 2016 at 8:31 pm

      I’d say it depends on how big the box is. If it’s going to take up a huge amount of space, maybe you could go through them and just keep some? I don’t think I’d bother scanning it all – that’s a ton of work, like you said. But keep some for a bit and see if you end up using them! (Sidenote: My dad recently gave me bags of my old homework, some of which was writing. I only kept one 80-page book then recycled the rest.)

  • Reply Heather February 18, 2016 at 10:46 am

    “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.” You so hit the nail on the head with this one. I have been traveling for many years now and whenever people ask me how I afford it, I just reply that I make it a priority for me. I don’t want to wake up in my 50s full of regrets of things I didn’t do when I had the chance.

    I have become so inspired by your blog. I have paid off about $6,000 worth of debt since finding it and have focused more on what matters in my life through de-cluttering too. I haven’t tried a shopping ban yet but I am now thinking about trying a 30 (or 31) day spending fast to break my pattern of buying and returning or buying and donating. I’m hoping that this experiment will help me focus on getting out of the pattern of consumption and filling my weekends with enjoyable activities…like reading what I really want too!

  • Reply Broke Millennial February 18, 2016 at 11:10 am

    I leave articles open that I want to read in tabs on my browser. I’ll leave things there for days and never click over to read them. It’s a terrible habit and, like you, I’ve recently started to shift out. But your point about Pinterest (which I barely use) is the reason I don’t have Instagram. It seems insane to me to constantly admire a curated version of other people’s lives (talk about #FOMO), so I just eliminate the potential pain point by staying off Instagram entirely. Friends have pouted that they can’t see what I’m up to because I’m not on Instagram and I counter with, “why don’t you just call me and ask?”

  • Reply Tyler February 18, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    Hey Cait, so for me I get a ton of emails all week of things I want to read “eventually” but I give myself a time limit now. If I haven’t read it by Monday morning everything is deleted. I give myself that last chance to read or watch or whatever the email is but if on Monday morning I haven’t followed up on it it is gone and gone forever in my mind.
    I started doing this a few months ago and it has massively changed my life. I had close to 2,000 emails mostly unread and now I keep it under 75 at al times (usually only 10 or so) and come Monday it’s back to 0

  • Reply Alyssa February 18, 2016 at 6:17 pm

    This is wonderful, Cait – and I have to say that I find an incredible amount of inspiration by seeing all the sites & hikes you take in. You definitely experience life, and that’s way more priceless than consuming content (real, or even posed). Consumption is hard to beat, especially when you feel like you’re behind in conversation if you haven’t seen that viral video, or heard what who said in their Grammy acceptance speech, etc. I find myself in the past years not even formulating opinions on the matter to join in conversation. Not because I am totally careless, but that I would rather invest more time & energy on myself and my relationships – because my opinion on some entertainment stunt clearly isn’t going to change the world lol! Thank you for this piece. :)

  • Reply Amelia February 18, 2016 at 9:28 pm

    “I really don’t want to spend a minute organising digital clutter… I want to spend more time away from my phone and my computer” Yes. Yes!

  • Reply Aaron February 19, 2016 at 6:27 am

    This post really resonated with me. For me it’s been cutting down on podcasts I subscribe to (love yours!) and cutting back on buying supplies for hobbies I just don’t have time for. And quite a few of the podcasts I listened to were about hobbies (for me it’s gaming), but after a while to me it just seemed like long advertisements. I was getting all the news on up and coming stuff but I never had/made the time to experience the stuff I already owned. To further complicate this my job has a long commute and includes quite a bit of driving back and forth to customers (20+ hours/week driving) so I literally have way more time to listen to podcasts about hobbies than to actually do them. I totally felt the fear of missing out so I kept on chasing the newest stuff and never took the time to appreciate what I already had. I love your blog. I’ve been reading it for years. It has helped me a lot.

  • Reply Erika February 19, 2016 at 7:12 am

    I feel like we’re on a very similar wavelength lately Cait! I’ve been “digital decluttering” for the past few months and life is SO peaceful now. Even though I thought I loved it, I don’t use Instagram anymore (too many picture-perfect lives making me think I needed things I actually don’t need), I check Facebook once or twice a day at most (compared to 20 times in the past) and look at Twitter every now and then. Since I drastically cut back on trying to “keep up,” I’ve read a bunch of books, I’m better at my job, I actually cook dinner, I have way more quality conversations with friends and overall I just feel so calm and relaxed. I had no idea that reading and seeing everything was making me so anxious/on-edge/frazzled all the time. Chillin’ out on the infomania has been the catalyst for so much personal growth. This post (and all of these comments) makes me excited to read! I hope other people experiment more with this.

    PS – I’m 19 days into my 30-day Shopping Ban and it is SMOOTH SAILING, mostly due to opting out of the social media/information overload. I find I want and need less when I’m not being bombarded by what everyone else has all the time.

    • Reply Becky February 19, 2016 at 7:42 am

      I can totally relate to your post. I used to spend countless hours trying to read the whole internet and its just not possible! I quit facebook last October and haven’t looked back! Not only was it a time sucker, looking at everything everyone else was doing somehow made me feel I wasn’t living the perfect life, and the endless moranic comments just got overwhelming. I used to think all the time what my next post would be or trying to capture the perfect selfie. Now I enjoy life and talk to people when waiting on a doctor appt, etc…I just got back from a cruise in which I didn’t feel the need to take endless photos just to please my facebook community. I enjoyed the moments instead.

  • Reply Jenna February 19, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    So. I just deleted my Pinterest account because of this post.

    First I looked at my boards and thought about how much time and effort I had put into carefully selecting all those pins. For a second I felt like tearing down my own secret world of dreams. But soon the reality hit me. Scrolling down the pins, looking for something to save I suddenly noticed I wasn’t losing anything. I never had any of it. They were just pictures on the screen.

    Thank You

  • Reply Annie February 19, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    I’ve done the same with blogs. I kept saving so many that I had linked to through other blogs but realized there are only a few that I regularly return to. I ditched the rest.

    I feel about Facebook the way you feel about Pinterest. I know Facebook has been a good tool for some people, but I felt like it was a waste of time for me. The people I was interested in friending I already kept in touch with in other ways, and if some bit of news is really important someone will reach me. The time I freed up can now be used for reading, meditating, meeting friends/family face to face, and other simple joys.

  • Reply Leanne February 19, 2016 at 8:06 pm

    LOVE everything about this post. I’m so happy you ditched the so called “rules” of blogging and are just writing what you feel regardless of the length of the posts.

    This was a great read.

  • Reply Susan February 20, 2016 at 8:19 am

    That is a very sensible approach. :D

    I find that looking blank and claiming to be “old” helps a lot when people want to know why I’m not on “social platform of their choice!”

    That said, I am on a few, but I choose them carefully for specific purposes. e.g. I’m on Facebook, but only have relatives/close friends are on it, so I can easily keep up with it once a week. I enjoy seeing bits and pieces of the lives of the ones who live too far away to see in person on a regular basis! I use Pinterest when making long term, visual-based decisions (like replacing worn out bedding, or choosing the one and only dress I own!) because it helps me weed through the 7000 choices to a common theme. So when I do make a purchase, I’m completely certain it is something I’ll like and use for a long time.

    I guess most of the stuff can be useful, but only if used in a “mindful” fashion, for lack of a better word.

  • Reply Tracy February 20, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    Thank you for writing the most useful thing I’ve read online in a long time. I, too, have been deleting bookmarks, boards on Pinterest, and “followings.” Now that I’ve read this, I’m thinking my first impulse might have been the right one–delete rather than trim down. After all, when I can finally get around to doing any of the things I have Pinned, all the options will have changed anyway! Thanks for giving me courage!

  • Reply Nancie Withers Lafferty February 20, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    Glad I found your blog. This is a good argument. I am going to delete those bookmarks right now. One more piece of clutter gone. Thank you!

  • Reply Free Range Nation February 21, 2016 at 8:57 am

    I’m not a fan of Social Media in general. Too much electronic clutter. I have a very simple LinkedIn page and I like reading blogs, but that is about it. I’d rather be out walking in fresh air and sunshine than sitting in front of electronics! :)

  • Reply Kristen February 21, 2016 at 9:15 am

    I only send myself things I really do want to read later. I only use Twitter. 90% of what I follow is news and traffic and then a few other things/people I am interested. Somedays I don’t even go on it. I don’t have a Pinterest board, but occasionally use it to look for ideas for work. I am happy that other people share their amazing and creative teaching ideas. I have never had a Facebook account. Life is about choices and picking what to costume. I work hard to be mindful about it.

  • Reply Karen February 21, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    Out of Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook, Twitter has been the only form of social media that has driven traffic to my blog. Facebook has slowly started to bring in more traffic, but only because I’ve recently started to engage more in peoples’ posts and comments. I barely use Pinterest and find it to be nothing but a huge time suck. I think Pinterest is more useful if you’re a food, style/fashion, web design, photography blogger. I really don’t think it applies to personal finance bloggers that much.

    It’s sad to think that not only do people have to deal with the possibility of physical clutter, but digital clutter as well, nowadays!

  • Reply NDQ February 21, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    Thanks, Cait. I too have seriously cut down on my internet/digital clutter. When the internet was new, I saved everything. I had folders upon folders of — like you — sites and articles I never read later. Cutting out the linking and saving has helped me tremendously in saving time and eliminating yet one more thing on my mental to do list. Don’t get me started on Pinterest. I spent about five minutes on it to determine it was, for me, a useless time suck. When I hear women talk about “Oh, I found it on Pinterest,” I feel sorry for them because I know they spent hours upon hours searching for whatever it was they were gushing about. It’s just not for me.

    Maybe if I were more active on more social media sites, I’d get more traffic to my blog, but frankly I don’t care about drumming up business and my stats are good. But thank you for putting into words what a lot of us think. That’s always a joy to read and know that someone here understands real people.


  • Reply sharon February 22, 2016 at 7:13 am

    I’m not a huge fan of social media. I recently came to the conclusion that Instagram is the only social media that I really get enjoyment out of. For some reason I find it very soothing. I’m also really interested in the zero waste lifestyle concept and I’ve found some instagram accounts that are so inspiring. I deleted my twitter and recently spent 6 glorious weeks away from fb. I’m looking to deactivate fb for a long time after my daughter’s upcoming trip. I know she & her boyfriend will be posting a ton of pics when they are away, and it’ll just be easier to see them there, as they aren’t on shutterfly etc. I want to say no to social media more, and say yes to being more creative & active with my own time.

  • Reply Julie February 22, 2016 at 8:27 am

    Thanks, Cait! I love this! Some of the best advice I ever got was during residency when I was told to throw away any magazines/research papers/journals that I hadn’t read at the end of every month. I could always look them up later, but if I kept them, they would be a big tower of guilt staring me down from the corner and taking over my house. Now that everything’s online, I have to delete those emails and bookmarks too!

  • Reply Jan Ramsey Brick February 24, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    Oh my goodness… so many truths in this post. I’m glad I took the time to read it! :)
    I haven’t watched a television show in months for much the same reason. I’ve also got a bunch of bookmarks and articles saved to Evernote. But you’re right, I’m never going to read those things.
    There’s just so much information constantly coming in. Thanks for reminding me to declutter my “read it later” stuff!

  • Reply janet @ the ordinary life of jannybean February 24, 2016 at 7:01 pm

    Love this! Thank you. I am actually pretty militant about my digital saves and while I do like Pinterest I use it in a certain way and am careful of not over-saving things that cause me stress.

    But I did have a bookmark list I forgot about. I looked at my bookmarks and realized I NEVER looked back, the ones I did have on my toolbar were ones I knew well enough to type (um, and therefore I just hit delete. And it feels so nice!

  • Reply Cinthia Ritchie February 24, 2016 at 7:30 pm

    Hi, Cait. I love this post so much, and I especially love this quote, which I wrote down and have posted on my wall: “You shouldn’t spend all your waking hours consuming information. You should be spending them living the very short life we’re given.”
    Thanks so much for the inspiration, and big, big hugs.

  • Reply Shareba @ In Search Of Yummy-ness March 5, 2016 at 11:45 am

    I relate to this so much right now. I’m a blogger and I use social media to promote my “brand” (whatever the hell it is), but trying to consume everything that is in front of me is exhausting. Reading this post reminded me that I need to uninstall Pocket because it’s my favourite app that I never use. I save stuff and then NEVER go back to it. I used to do that with bookmarks in my browser too. The funny thing is, I actually really like Pinterest, because (and maybe I should’t admit this), I mostly use it to save photos that I like. That’s it: a visual catalogue that makes me happy.

  • Reply Adriana March 7, 2016 at 7:11 am

    This post resonated with me. I’ve been thinking a great deal about the gap between our desires/intentions/wishes/what have you, and our actions, and how Pinterest plays such a role in actually documenting this disconnect. I need to keep thinking about this, as I’m guilty of this on FB: I save so many links I want to read later, and find that two months down the road, I’m not even interested anymore or I’ve already read something better. Back to the “don’t touch it twice” rule, I suppose? Thanks for some great food for thought.

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