Piles of clutter can be a huge wake-up call to clean up, organize and put things in order. When that clutter lives in our desktops, inboxes and browsers it can be all too easy to set it aside, keeping it “out of sight and out of mind”. But holding onto digital materials beyond their need may prove to be a larger inconvenience than simply having a crowded desktop. In fact, the practice of digital hoarding can be harmful to business workflows in a variety of ways.

Digital hoarding is defined as: Excessive acquisition and reluctance to delete electronic material that no longer holds user value. This may include materials like outdated/expired emails, old drafts of papers, apps that are no longer used and excessive browser tabs.

Digital hoarding is common and often starts in subtle, small ways. It may seem helpful to keep them open “just in case”, but over time these items pile up. Even though the materials are digital, the consequences of digital hoarding can be very real.

Digital Hoarding Neutralizes Efficiency

Digital hoarding can be a real hurdle for getting tasks done efficiently. When holding onto too many files, tabs, apps, or other digital materials, it makes it much harder and more time-consuming to prioritize or locate relevant information in a timely fashion. We may feel too busy presently to go through and clear out an inbox or delete an old file, but letting these materials pile up may lead to more wasted time further down the road.

Digital Hoarding Can Be Costly

While mountains of emails and files may not take up any printer ink costs, they can still dent a budget. Unneeded data takes up space. Hard drives and servers that store that information cost money. Even the need for more physical space for servers and the higher electricity costs for maintaining them are expenses that can add up quickly. The cleaner digital materials are maintained, the less space is needed for storage.

Digital Hoarding Compromises Security

Information security becomes more of a concern the more digital materials are collected. The more information kept on devices, browsers, or inboxes, the more a potential attacker stands to gain. Digital hoarding may also make it tougher to keep in compliance with privacy laws, along with keeping tabs on what information is already stored and where to locate it. The tougher it is to locate valuable information, the harder it is to make ensure it has been stored properly and securely.

Our Advice

Much like cleaning physical spaces, cleaning our digital spaces should be a regular practice. Best practice is to simply make digital cleanup and maintenance a standard routine.

First, take care of incoming materials. When receiving emails that are not relevant, delete them as they come in rather than waiting to do so later.

Second, regularly go back through folders, browsers and inboxes to clear out items that are no longer needed. If you work best with reminders and consistent routines, try scheduling one day each week (or every two weeks, depending on your level of incoming data) to be “cleanup day”.

Third, be mindful about what is backing up to the cloud. While cloud services can be a useful way to store important materials, relocating outdated, irrelevant files to a cloud platform is not necessarily the best solution to digital hoarding.

Finally, ensure  data retention and compliance standards are implemented at the business operational level.  A set of standards in this regard equips employees with the knowledge and protocol they need to better mitigate digital hoarding while protecting valuable company data.

As teams look for ways to keep their operations successful and productive, we hope that preventing digital hoarding remains a point of focus. Solidifying a digital cleanup routine is a great way to build a strong organizational culture with widespread productivity and benefits in efficiency. Hamilton can be your solution to keep all of your data and digital files secure.

If you have any questions about digital hoarding or are curious how Hamilton can help protect your valuable information, contact us today.

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