Digital Decluttering – Bookmarks

"Blue Sky Coming" Cedar Park, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4, 1/340 sec, ISO200
“Blue Sky Coming” Cedar Park, 2018

こんばんは。How’s it going?

For the past few years, I’ve been simplifying my life in many different areas, both large and small, for instance, my camera gear, decluttering my closet, book collection, and tidying up my home workspace. But another area that I enjoy simplifying is my digital life. There are many areas of our digital lives that have gotten so cluttered and complicated, and I’m going to write about the ones I’ve identified and worked on. For tonight I’ll start with bookmarks.

I’ve been online since the early 90s, and I’ve been saving, organizing, and filing away bookmarks ever since I started using NCSA Mosaic. That’s a couple decades worth of bookmarks! Of course, I don’t keep everything, but I’d say that my collection of bookmarks has hovered at around 3 year’s worth, growing and shrinking as I find time to delete obsolete ones.

But just this past week or so I’ve been going through them and ruthlessly decluttering. First, if I look at a link and don’t know what it is by name alone, I’ll delete it. It’s obviously not important enough to keep if I don’t even know what its name is referring to. I won’t even check to see if the link is active.

For the second pass, I spend a few moments thinking about if I’ve clicked on the link within the past few months. If not, I delete. This clears out a ton of links to old hobbies that I am no longer interested in, DIY repair links to things that I’ve already fixed, shopping research for things I’ve already bought, etc.

After that, my bookmarks collection is really streamlined!

But what is the benefit of having a stripped-down collection of bookmarks since keeping them doesn’t cost anything? Well, I believe that even if a bookmark is in a hidden away in a folder, it still occupies a bit of space in my brain. But by consciously deleting the link, it frees up that space and gives a bit of closure – I know that the bookmarks folders don’t have anything obsolete or useless in them. No loose ends!

I also think that when I know I’ve streamlined the bookmarks, I’ve simplified my life and jettisoned those things that aren’t essential to me. It’s sort of a digital representation of letting go of real things that are not useful to me any longer. When I look at the folders that are lined across my bookmarks toolbar, I can see right away what’s important to me, and it kind of keeps my priorities in line. For instance, my folders are Blogging, Music, 日本語, Work, Art, Fun, Photo, Kids, Wellness, and Finances. And some subfolders are Travel, Reading, and Motorbike.

And a little technical bonus: because Chrome bookmarks sync across my entire account, when I clean up on one browser, the rest of my devices get cleaned up too. It’s like magic. Cloud magic! 😄

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Today’s photo is of the clouds breaking up to reveal clear evening skies.

I hope you had a nice hump-day!

おやすみ!

One or the Other

"Stuff" Cedar Park, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4.5, 1/125 sec, ISO5000
“Stuff” Cedar Park, 2018

こんばんは。How’s it going?

Minimalists say to only keep things that are useful or bring joy. I guess the small shelf I have on my home office desk is 90% there. You can’t see them in the photo, but the only things I have which don’t fit those criteria are some old audio CDs that I don’t listen to. They were gifts which I could probably toss now that the music has been ripped and added to my digital collection. The other thing that is useful, but doesn’t get used, is a Sansa MP3 player. I should probably donate that one, right?

But other than those two things, I think I am doing good with the decluttering in that small section of the house. 😄

I hope you had a nice Tuesday!

またね~

Cleaning and Decluttering

"Tidy" Cedar Park, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X-T10, 18mm, f/2.8, 1/60 sec, ISO640
“Tidy” Cedar Park, 2018

こんばんは。Today I woke up pretty early (for a Sunday) and watched a few TED videos about decluttering. As usual, I got inspired to throw out a lot of things that I don’t use or need. Consequently, my desk at home is getting really tidy! It’s a much nicer environment to work, blog, play games, or just hang out. 😀 And while cleaning up, I found a string of lights so I decided to string them up to celebrate. I think it makes the room even more fun.

"Mood Lighting" Cedar Park, 2018
Photo info: SONY SLT-A77V, 10mm, f/4, 1/20 sec, ISO320
“Mood Lighting” Cedar Park, 2018

Besides the office, I went to my closet to see what clothes I can get rid of, but when I looked at my stuff, I realized I got rid of most everything already. Or so I thought… I have a hanging drawer set where I keep my shorts, pajamas, and workout clothes, and I haven’t gone through those yet. That drawer set had 10 sections, which were all occupied, but after declutering, there are only 5 slots with items in it. I basically got rid of old swimming trunks, workout shirts, and pajamas whose elastic bands had worn out. It’s amazing that I found so many running shirts! Even after throwing out so many, I still kept 4. Anyways, now my closet seems more airy and clean. I love it!

Simplifying my life is such a worthwhile thing to do. Now I am ready to tackle my books again. 😀

またね~

🖱 Cutting the wire

"Home Setup" Cedar Park, 2016
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4, 1/80 sec, ISO3200
“Home Setup” Cedar Park, 2016

こんばんは!How’s it going?

Today was a “work-at-home”, or WAH, day for me. (I love that… WAHHH!! 😭) I bring my work laptop 💻 home and usually just use that do work on, but if I have to use any Adobe products, I’ll move stuff over via Dropbox and work on my home desktop computer 🖥 so I can take advantage of the big monitor.

For a few months now, I’ve been using a wireless mouse 🖱 from Logitech and it is wonderful! I resisted switching from wired to wireless for a long time because I thought I would be changing batteries all the time and the wireless signal would be glitchy. But that is not the case at all.

I LOVE the fact that without the wire, I can pretty much position the mouse anywhere on the table with ease. This helps out a lot when the cats decide to sit in front of the monitor, where the mouse usually lives. Cat.. mouse.. funny huh? 😺 🐭

Anyways, the other benefit of the wireless mouse is that it reduces the clutter on my desk. I don’t have to look at that ugly black wire against the clean white desktop. It’s so tidy now!! 😀

Just last week I decided to get a wireless mouse for my work computer as well, so I ordered a cheap mouse from Amazon. This one was only $10, but the reviews were very good so I didn’t hesitate in purchasing it. I’m completely satisfied with this mouse and am wondering why I didn’t do it earlier. It’s just one of those questions that will never be answered I guess. 😂

"Work Setup" Cedar Park, 2016
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4, 1/20 sec, ISO3200
“Work Setup” Cedar Park, 2016

I hope you had a nice Wednesday!

おやすみなさい!

– B Barron Fujimoto

Hello, Cloud. And Why I Cull My Photos.

"Saying Hi" Cedar Park, 2016
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/6.4, 1/950 sec, ISO400
“Saying Hi” Cedar Park, 2016

こんばんは!Hello, how’s it going?

Well, I didn’t expect to take another cloud photo for today’s snapshot, but as I was doing the dishes this evening, this beautiful cumulus specimen appeared over the trees to say hello. I couldn’t pass up the chance, so I shut off the water, grabbed my camera which was in the other room, then came back to the kitchen to take four photos of the cloud. I liked this one the best, and deleted the other three.

I am a big proponent of only keeping the best version of a series of photos if possible. In this case, the other three were simply different views of the same scene, some farther away from the window, and some closer. The photo above was the image that I felt was framed the best by the window, so it became the “keeper” and the other three got the “X” (marked for deletion).

I’ve heard people say that you should never delete any of your photos. Storage is cheap, after all. It doesn’t cost anything extra to keep every single photo you take, right? While this may be true, I personally found that I was paying the price in speed. The large amount of images was bloating my Lightroom catalog and slowing things down.

Conversely, by only keeping one photo from a series of images, my Lightroom catalog is lighter and more responsive. Plus there’s less visual clutter when I scroll through the catalog, or when I browse my images online at photos.google.com. I can scan quickly. I don’t have to wade though a bunch of mediocre versions of the same subject (and believe me when I say that I capture a TON of mediocre images!).

For me, it’s important to cull the photos soon after Iimport them into Lightroom or copy them to my computer. (I even try to delete photos before that in-camera) The quicker I get rid of those photos, the less time they have to make an imprint in my mind. I believe everything takes a portion of the brain’s attention, even a tiny bit of my subconscious. So, once the photos cease to exist, it frees that part of my brain’s hard drive, as well as my computer’s hard drive. At least that is what I believe. 😌

When I first began culling my photos, it wasn’t easy to delete photos. Yes, I was a digital hoarder at the time! But one thing that helped me was to imagine that my Lightroom catalog was a slideshow that I would be presenting to an audience. Would I want to show them 4 pictures of the same cloud? No way. They would get bored (and annoyed) quickly. I would pick the best photo to show them, and respect their time and attention. So why wouldn’t I treat myself with the same respect?

Once I got comfortable with culling quickly, it became easy, and it actually became fun! Making decisions and not looking back or regretting my actions gave me a sense of control. It won’t change the world, but it did affect the way I felt. Plus, once you start decluttering, it just snowballs and it feels great!

Okay, I seem to have rambled on a bit (again). So, back to the photo at hand…

For the Lightroom edit, it was similar to my previous post’s photo, with the addition of selective white balance. I gave the cloud a warmer tone, and the sky a cooler tone. That’s it! I’d estimate that I spent about 4 minutes in Lightroom before exporting.

I hope you had a nice day today. Let’s have a great Friday to close out the work week!

As always, if you have a comment or question, let me know.

おやすみなさい! – B Barron Fujimoto

A-Z Challenge – U

U stands for “Upgrading”

We are constantly urged by ads and marketing to upgrade everything we have. For instance, phones, software, cars, gadgets, etc. In photography, we’re presented with new cameras and technology every year. The camera you just bought will be “obsolete” as soon as next year’s model comes out. There’s more and more megapixels, better high ISO sensitivity, faster AF… the list goes on and on!

When I bought my Fujifilm X100T last year, it made me realize that I didn’t have to upgrade my camera gear to improve my photography, or more importantly, get more enjoyment out of my hobby. I became more aware of the concept of “good enough” and the “satisficers” vs “maximizers” and found myself falling into the camp of the satisficers. This camera had less megapixels than my dslr, didn’t have as high a burst mode, and the video quality was worse. But it was definitely good enough, and the advantages of small size, low weight, simpler controls made it a far more enjoyable experience for me. “Good enough” actually brought me more joy than “maximizing”.

So, now I ask myself… why must I upgrade to the latest and greatest? Phones for instance… I find a low to mid-range smartphone good enough for me. I don’t have the urge to upgrade. Also, I use Adobe Lightroom every day, but I decided not to upgrade to the latest “Cloud” version… for me, version 5 was good enough. If I had the CC version, it would probably force me to upgrade my computer to keep up with the more powerful features that are regularly added. I don’t want to get forced into this cycle of upgrading!

It used to be a huge temptation for me to keep upgrading my things. But these days, I find happiness in settling for the “good enough” items, and I do not spend cycles worrying or researching to make sure I am at the cutting edge. For me, it’s a more satisfying way to live, and I can spend my energies elsewhere.

A-Z Challenge – K

K stands for “Konmari”

Lately I’ve been reading “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo which is about decluttering your house and improving your life. The term “Konmari” comes from her first and last names and it’s kind of a Japanese way to make nicknames. For instance, Takuya Kimura from SMAP is known as “Kimutaku”, and pitcher Kenta Maeda is “Maeken”.

But nickname aside, this book is the latest in a string of books about decluttering and minimalism that I have read. I first became interested in decluttering about 15 years ago when I read “Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui” by Karen Kingston. It was life-changing. I started throwing away so many things that I had kept that I did not need anymore. It felt great! I think I was reading the book late at night and got so motivated that at 2AM I found myself in my closet piling up old clothes to take to Goodwill!

The Konmari method is a little different, but the general idea is the same… only keep what gives you joy in your life, and discard the rest. And for the things you do keep, make sure they have a place to go. When your home is in order, you will be able to focus on the things in life that make you happy. Of course, the book is a lot more detailed about the techniques that she teaches to her clients. I am only about halfway through the book, and already it’s highly motivating and inspirational.

If you don’t know about decluttering, this is a good place to start!