POSTED ON Nov 20, 2010

Joel Friedlander

Written by Joel Friedlander

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Years ago, before the standardization of the desktop, file managers were a popular type of software. These were system utilities that would let you do lots of neat stuff with your files. Everyone had lots of work to do organizing their files, and a program that did it faster and better was highly prized.

It struck me as ironic that even if you avoided housework in the real world, you ended up doing it in the virtual world.

Somehow the irony of electronic “housekeeping” stayed with me. Over the years I’ve often found myself doing something at the keyboard that’s not that different from washing the kitchen floor.

Of course, it’s not as satisfying as washing the kitchen floor. After the floor’s clean, I get a payback right away when I put the mop and pail away and stroll back into the kitchen.

I guess eHousework could be necessary or practical. On the other hand, it could look like a ridiculous waste of time, aspirational work avoidance, or a laser-like focus on the inessential.

You don’t know what I’m talking about?

Have you ever found yourself

  • cleaning your inbox
  • defragging your hard drive
  • sorting your bookmarks
  • emptying desktop “trash”
  • policing the icons on your desktop
  • experimenting with screensavers
  • fine-tuning the icons on your phone or tablet
  • creating wallpaper for your desktop
  • straightening your virtual stickies
  • changing the “skin” on Firefox
  • personalizing your Google desktop
  • organizing your blog sidebar
  • reworking social media profiles

Then you should know what I’m talking about. You, my friend, are a housekeeper. Dusting, emptying the trash bins, changing the linens. A servant of the machine.

Like anything else, I know I should apply the “80/20” rule to this situation. I know that only 20% of my activities will produce 80% of my results. But if the icons really bother me, shouldn’t I change them? In fact, I’m 100% in favor of changing the icons.

Maybe you’ve found a solution for sinking time into virtual housekeeping. I’d love to hear it.

Image licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License, original work copyright by CarbonNYC,

Joel Friedlander

Written by
Joel Friedlander

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