the paradox of too much

Like a lot of people, I go through bursts of wanting to learn as much as I can and wanting to do nothing.

An unintended consequence of this was lengthy lists of bookmarked articles and courses to read, netflix shows to watch, music to listen to, books to get to, etc. These items seemed to grow, not shrink over time and left a weird sense of slight guilt that I couldn't get to them. Some bookmarks were 5-10 years old.

I've always been more of a minimalist then someone who clutters physical things. Digitally, it's even tougher to keep organized - probably because things are so cheap and abundant now. Here is every music album for $10 a month, here are 100s of shows, etc. In the physical world even if you wanted to collect everything, you would have space and financial restrictions.

I started pruning parts of my netflix list and bookmarks but it wasn't fast enough for my liking. I have settled on a personal rule to not have more then 5 items in my netflix list (over time this has usually been no more then 3). For my bookmarks, I've taken a time sensitive approach. As a prefix to each bookmark or category of bookmarks I write a date. On that date, if I have not gone through the material, I delete it. If I am interested in something and realize I will not have time to get to it, I have extended the deadline in advance. These instances in part have been due to poor/unreasonable "scheduling". I also have a permanent "current_work" folder which has no time limit.

After a couple months, I think the experiment has been a success. I feel better with these shorter lists. More focused, less obligated to get through material that I am going over just to complete it but have no desire to, and also more productive with my time.

my bookmark system

For years now this "problem" of seemingly infinite information and material has been compounding and accelerating. I think we need to take steps individually to get some sanity and control over it instead of letting it dictate our schedules and life.

The paradox of choice is very real but can be combated