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What are you doing on autopilot? What are you doing only because it’s a traditional behavior?… If you don’t know why you’re moving in a new direction, if you can’t envision a remarkable life for yourself, you will struggle with every attempt you make to get rid of clutter.
Getting rid of stuff you have and don’t need
What you don’t include in your UI / application / OS is just as important as what you do. I recently went through an apartment de-cluttering. Yes, the new absence of many things, overall, has improved my apartment greatly. Maybe this will work for your application as well? Certainly, no one wants their application to relate to these sorts of monstrosities!
It can be hard to purge the vestiges or mistakes of your application’s past. A lot of ‘uncluttering’ literature consistently suggests the following method of removing items from your home: take a photo of it, put it into storage for a while, unearth the box a year later after clearly not having used it over that period of time, and get rid of it! Hmm… for an application, maybe take a screenshot, take a code snapshot, make a wiki memorial, and move on perhaps?
Preventing stuff you don’t need from entering in the first place
At least in American consumerist culture, we’re convinced to buy, buy, buy, and it’s hard to think about practical considerations such as:
- Do I really have room on my bookshelves for this new DVD?
- When I’m done reading this book, am I going to keep it? Where is it going to end up?
- If I buy this cute new place setting, what will become of my old one?
- This pair of shoes is quite cute, but what outfits that I already own would it go with? Which of the 30 pairs I shoes I already own am I going to purge to make room for it?
- If I put this new kitchen gadget on my countertop, am I going to have any more space to prepare dinner?
- While it seems like a great idea right now and I’m totally pumped to do this now: do I really have the time and motivation to use this software to learn Arabic in 30 days? Where and when will I use Arabic if I could actually speak it?
If only those questions had been asked before the thing ended up in our homes, right? Similarly to how it’s far easier to keep your home an enjoyable, uncluttered place to be if you try to prevent the stuff from entering your home in the first place (since the pain of getting rid of the stuff, emotionally, financially, and environmentally is much greater), it may be easier to keep your software clean and more usable by asking some tough questions up front before adding new features.
What to remove? What to keep?
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The challenge is that you have to have a good vision for how you want your apartmen^W application to fit into your life, or your users’ lives. Without that, it is hard to understand what makes sense to keep, what makes sense to remove, and the best roadmap for your app moving forward.
I think it’s a good idea to ask yourself ‘is this what I really want?’ periodically. If I really want my apartment to be a clean, calming sanctuary, is that bright pink, sparkly, gem-encrusted Hello Kitty chandelier really what I want? If I really want this application to improve a user’s life, is this new feature I’m considering going to help or hurt that goal? Consider how you might improve the experience of your application by carefully curating what goes into it.
Just a thought!