Blog Overhaul: Spring Cleaning and Digital Clutter

Clearing clutter is seriously therapeutic-- my blog was long overdue for a cleaning!
Welcome to the new, improved, and freshly cleaned up Avant-Guardian Musings! My blog has been long overdue for an overhaul and I finally found the time this week to think about how I wanted to streamline and deliver information in a more minimalist and clutter-free way. Lately, I have been most inspired by the much cleaner design and intuitive gesturing trends in blogging that have transformed with the advent of computer tablets and other small touch-screen devices. As a result, I have eliminated a great deal of text from my home page and incorporated a new "dynamic view" (which you can customize when you visit my blog with the drop down menu at the top left hand corner of the home page-- my default is the "Magazine View") and simplified gadget bar with icons (always floating on the right hand side of the screen) that the Blogger platform launched last year.

These new templates do not allow the same level of customization as the older platform working on HTML coding, so I was forced to spend a good deal of time hunting around on programming blogs and other online resources to learn how to hack the template to make it look closer to my final vision. In the end I am quite pleased and hope users find my blog more visually inviting and easier to navigate. Some new features: for foreign visitors to my blog, I have added a Google translate icon to the gadget bar; I have moved all of the social media links to the same bar and incorporated a set of quick links under the camera icon for fast access to my blog pages and student Moodle and WebCT logins. At the same time, I have maintained certain elements of my original blog, such as the Resources and Readings page on the navigation bar that students often utilize during the academic year. Have fun looking around and happy browsing!

As I was finishing up the blog re-design and de-cluttering, I thought it would also be useful to share some other steps I took this week to clear other forms of digital clutter from my day-to-day routine:

1. Desktop Computer Clutter: I tackled my home computer first since I have a tendency to accumulate documents, student papers, administrative memos/minutes, assignments and all sorts of random miscellaneous e-paperwork over the course of a semester on my home computer. Last year I streamlined to create "In Process" and "Completed" folders on my desktop and worked with Dropbox to eliminate the need to print physical copies of these many documents, and as a result I now have to weed through these folders to delete unnecessary files. It is still a work in process.

2. Bookmarks and Other E-Notes Clutter: I went back through my Endnote, Pinterest, and Google Reader files to look over the collected links (articles, recipes, images) that I had earmarked to read later or file for research and sorted them into categories to tackle over the summer. I try to do this at least once a month, but it is not always easy to figure out which items are potentially important or to simply need to be deleted (how many recipes for for the crock pot do I need?).

3. Social Media Clutter: I love Twitter, but realized this year that I would have to begin sorting all of the people I follow into some more manageable categories. The same can be said for my Pinterest boards and the necessary housekeeping on my Facebook feed to ensure I was seeing the information that I wanted and eliminating the unnecessary.

4. Smartphone Clutter: This one is hard for me since I actively avoid dealing with all of the unused apps and other random stuff I have sitting on my phone for fear of needing that information at some later date. I finally cracked down and got pretty ruthless with figuring out what I actually need and use on a daily basis. Turns out that I only use a handful of apps and I am happy to have streamlined my phone to fit my routine.

5. Image Clutter: I confess I am still working on this one and I still haven't figured out the best way to sort and manage all of my photographs, video, and lecture/blog material into some workable system. Another work in progress, although not very far along.

Here is another great link to consult in the quest to clear the digitial debris from your life:

25 Areas of Digital Clutter to Minimalize by