I’m no minimalist. Not by a long shot. I love my tables stacked high with books and art stacked several frames deep. I dust often or live with the consequences (generally the consequences as THE DUST NEVER ENDS). I’ve been a collector as long as I can remember. Like my mother and grandmothers. It’s nature and nurture.

For me, a clear desktop doesn’t have anything to do with a clear head. It isn’t a mess if it has purpose. Without a bit of clutter, I don’t feel inspired. I need the notebooks and post its, the vintage silver cream and sugar sets overflowing with pens, the horoscopes and photos tucked under the glasstop. I need the corkboards that line the wall behind me and the binders filled with tear sheets. (You know, Pinterest before Pinterest.)

Lately, I realize the decluttering I need most involves things that aren’t tangible. Online clutter is deceptive, but it takes up my time and space. Yet I avoid it like the problems I have with iPhoto. It just seems too much to deal with.

But as my friend Jules always reminds with The William Morris Project: if it isn’t useful or beautiful, what is it doing in your house?

So, I’m applying her WMP manifesto to my screentime, which is mostly at home but follows me most everywhere I go.

How many things online appear useful or beautiful but are often neither? The very things that are supposed to help inspire me to be organized or creative are, for the most part, taking up time I could spend organizing or creating.

In addition to the apps I’m using that I mentioned last week, I’m finding ways to cut the stuff that takes up too much virtual space. I’m cleaning house. One bookmark at a time.

– Lifehacker fills my inbox with the prospect of a blissful paper-free online utopia where I’ll never need to remember a password. Emails are saved for later and they sit in purgatory. Unsubscribe.

– Pinterest and I have a rocky relationship, but I’ve finally realized that I can get much more done by searching Google for that perfect shade of peacock blue than signing in to pin and falling down that rabbit hole. No new boards for now.

– Facebook has this funny quality: the less I use it, the less I miss it. Now, if I get a notification, I sign in. The only downside are the number of friends who assume I see all the things they place on their Wall. I’m beginning to realize how many people have stopped talking and just post instead. (Paging Dr. Turkle…)

– Good Reads. I love their repository of quotes, but that’s it right now. I’ve just finished four books and haven’t added them to my virtual shelf. Or the four before that. Maybe I’ll start talking about books here more. Because a virtual shelf is collecting virtual dust.

The list goes on. None are bad sites, just ones I don’t need. Ones that aren’t enriching my life enough to devote the time there. I’ll continue to cull through bookmarks and saved mail. Next up, a long day with my Pomodoro timer and the UNSUBSCRIBE button. Work in progress. As always.

Yesterday, I was running around and saw a great little chinoiserie wall shelf.  I thought of twelve places to hang it, and immediately wanted to paint it in the style of a table I saw in a magazine not too long ago. I brought it home, opened a tear sheet binder and pulled an ELLE DECOR photo. It was just as I remembered when I filed it away. It took less than a minute. No need to log in or log out. Though I did Instagram to share it with a friend. You know, to keep some balance.

Off to get paint this weekend.

4 thoughts on “Dusting Virtual Bookshelves with The William Morris Project

  1. wonderlandkat

    I really need to do this – although I find your feelings about Pinterest fascinating. For me, I’d rather have that then paper around, I’m trying to stop being such a paper hoarder!

    1. alexandra Post author

      For me, the more I go paperless, the less organized I am. I think it’s different for everyone, but I still find that with all the digital ways I’ve stored info, I still return to books and my binders. I find the web an added bonus, but well edited binders and mag archives encourage my creativity.

  2. Achieving Clarity

    Oh, my gosh! How right you are. I read the title and thought I would read that you had eliminated paper books and kept all reading material on your Nook which never required a second thought. Bummer! Seems there is always something to tend to,doesn’t it?

  3. Ryann

    So true about Facebook. The less I visit, the less I miss it. Plus I don’t get sucked into reading about people I don’t even really want to talk to, or some girl I had english with in high school. I’ve been gone from Facebook so long, that they actually emailed me to let me know it’s been over a month since I’ve logged on.

    I’ve been on an unsubscribing marathon as of late. My inbox is looking less and less like a disaster zone.

    I can’t wait to see what you do with the shelf, I’m sure it’s going to look amazing!


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