The Art of Discarding

I’m in the process of spring cleaning my house and am getting lots of inspiration from Marie Kondo’s “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” Her big message is that to truly achieve an organized home, one must discard all unneeded/unloved items before you can even begin to tidy. We hold on to a lot of junk and it’s preventing us from enjoying and relaxing in our homes. Using the suggestions in Kondo’s book, the purging process is working really well for me and I’m already feeling better about a lot of my home spaces.

The act of cleaning my home by getting rid of unnecessary junk has me thinking about how underrated the discarding step is in the process of data management. It’s actually important to periodically get rid of useless data so that the good data is easier to find. Why wade through a bunch of files you’ll never use in order to locate the ones you want?

Besides clearing out the cruft, there are two other reasons to consider discarding data. First, junk data takes up hard drive space. I’m totally guilty of holding on to everything and anything digital – such as when I recently transferred all of my old laptop files to my new laptop – but this means I devote more and more disk space to stuff I don’t really need to keep. In the long term, it’s not a very sustainable solution.

The other good reason to discard is if you’re dealing with sensitive data. Sensitive data can be a pain to keep secure, but such security concerns go away after the data is destroyed. You can’t lose data that no longer exists! It’s usually best practice to destroy the data after a fixed retention period so you have access to it for some period of time but not forever.

In many ways, data management is comparable to tidying your home; one must keep things organized and put away in the proper place in order to find them later. This analogy continues for the discarding process. Discarding is an important step in keeping a handle on what you have. So as you manage your data, I hope you consider how strategically trashing files can help keep your digital house in order.