6 Month Data Orientation

About every 6 months I take a day or two to examine how I do stuff. In 2011 I wrote about cleaning up password cruft. This holiday season I wrote about my mania for over aggressive holiday task lists. Looking at these posts, I really do seem crazy. But I’ll tell you this: It feels good when I go back to work with a confined scope for my data, if not a blank slate.

Here’s some of my preparation steps for getting better with my bits:

  1. List all of my repetitive processes. I make a giant context map of everything I do more than once in a week.
  2. Grab all of the applications I use at least 2-3 times a week and make a list of the keyboard shortcuts.
  3. Make a list of all of my macros, scripts and cron jobs
  4. Look at my Documents folder and list anything that I don’t immediately recognize
  5. Do #4 with my Dropbox folder
  6. Check all of my backups for the most recent data on them and confirm the backup schedule
  7. Create a Finder smart folder of all of my text notes not modified in the past 6 months. This will help me look for dead notes that can be archived

Here’s some actions in order of priority:

  1. Archive my stale text notes. These are notes that have no expected value for the next year or more. I archive everything instead of deleting.
  2. Prune and merge folders in Dropbox and Documents. Sub-folders are better than multiple siblings at the top level
  3. Replace backup drives that are older than 2 years. Yes, I write the original format date on them.
  4. Take action on Passwords used but not changed in the past 180 days. This is a saved search in 1Password.
  5. Deactivate accounts for passwords not used or changed in the past 180 days. If it can’t be deactivated, change it to something new and ridiculous and tag the item as “dead” in 1Password
  6. Choose at least one application and make cheat sheets of the keyboard shortcuts. Learn them.
  7. Archive macros and scripts that I don’t remember using. I do not evaluate if I think they could be useful. I can always turn them back on if I think I need them later.
  8. Prune Evernote documents in my “Last 6 Month” saved search (updated:day-180).
  9. Kill cron jobs that I can no longer justify
  10. Clean my scratch text file

Yup, I’m a blast on vacation. Happy New Year.