I clutter, therefore I am

The uncluttered don’t understand why clutter doesn’t drive the cluttered crazy. The truth is that it does. Trust me, we are as annoyed about it as the most obsessive-compulsive neat freak you can imagine. But there is a balance. Sometimes what looks like clutter to you is simply a spacial filing system. Things pile up on my desk precisely so they will be there when I need them, for instance.

Virtual clutter has been driving my craziest lately. I have too many podcasts. When too many unheard podcasts pile up on my iPhone and the free space drops too low, the phone starts misbehaving in small ways. Most of the symptoms are extremely minor—the wrong cover art is displayed while playing music, for instance. Some are a bit more annoying.

The obvious solution is to delete the old podcasts that I’m obviously never going to listen to. That takes time, and ca only be done, under the current software, at my computer. Until the annoying symptoms happen, my only indication I have of the impending problem happens when I synchronize the phone with the computer–which is almost always when I’m on my way out the door to catch a bus to work. In other words, when I’m rushing and short on time.

The next solution is to drastically reduce the number of podcasts I have my computer fetch for me. Obviously I’m not listening to a lot of them, right? Except I can’t predict in advance which ones I won’t get to. I listen to a small number of news podcasts each work morning on my way into work. I listen to the others very sporadically at work. I can only listen to talking people while doing illustration or design work, or if I’m working on some of e more design-ish or programming-ish tasks in the information architect side ofmy job. If I’m actually writing, editing, or reading specifications and such in prep for writing, I have to have music, not talking podcasts.

So some weeks I listen to no podcasts at all during work.

Then there are the times when I queue up a podcast, such as the most emailed stories on NPR, and the stories are things I just do not care to listen to. Or it’s a story I’ve already heard about or read about more than I need to know, so I go looking for another podcast to listen to, instead.

I’ll keep muddling along like this for a while longer, I’m sure. Yeah, I will probably explore some ofthe alternate systems that substitute streaming for downloading in advance, but I suspect the virtual clutter will manifest in new ways on the device.

At least there will always be tidying to keep me out of trouble, right?

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