Spring Cleaning for the Web Worker


Spring is in the air (well, depending on where you live; we actually had a dusting of snow this morning), and that traditionally means thoughts of spring cleaning. After a long dormant winter, people seem to think naturally of sprucing up their immediate environment. Something about longer days makes us want to throw off our winter sloth and make everything tidy and neat.

As a web worker, it’s a great time to think about a virtual spring cleaning. It’s easy to put off some of the routine chores forever, but as long as the sun is starting to shine, why not think about tackling these five tasks in your working life?1. Clean out that inbox: Whether you’re using Google Apps or some other email client, taking control of your inbox can have an enormous payoff. For many web workers, email is the entry point for all work, tasks, and sales leads. If your inbox is a giant disorganized heap, you’re likely throwing money away.

2. Get your backups going: No matter how many times they hear it, some people just don’t think about backups until after their first disastrous data loss. Don’t let that be you; with the ready availability of online backup solutions there’s no excuse for not distributing your data. Start by creating your online disaster plan. Then pick a backup solution and do it. We’ve looked at solutions including Amazon S3, BeInSync, and CrashPlan, as well as asked readers what they use.

3. Cut down on noise: Remember when mailing lists were your only way of getting information? How many are you still on that you never, ever read? The same applies to RSS feeds. If your reader is cluttered, trim, trim, trim. If you can force yourself to be ruthless, so much the better. One tip: send your newsletters to a separate mail folder, or your RSS subscriptions that you’re not sure about to a separate reader folder. If you haven’t feel the need to look at them after a week, get rid of them.

4. Tidy up your browser: If you use a browser that lets you install extensions or add-ins – as most of them do these days – this is a great time to review the ones that you’ve got installed. Too many extensions can slow things down and lead to browser instability, as many a web worker has discovered. Go through your list with an eye towards disabling or uninstalling any extensions that you don’t really use. While you’re thinking about browser maintenance, get rid of any crufty bookmarks that you don’t use. General “I might need to find it again” bookmark storage is better relegated to a service like del.icio.us.

5. Eliminate software clutter: How’s your Start Menu or Applications folder? Full of stuff that you never actually use? Lots of web workers end up installing many packages, either to test drive them or use for a single job. If your software universe is full of cruft, get rid of the ones you’re not really using, so you’re not having to constantly look for the software that you do use.

Have any spring cleaning tips of your own? What have you done lately to make your web working life tidier?



I’ve actually been thinking about implementing the same practices in my home and residential cleaning business. Great thoughts and thank you for the helpful information.

Lawrence Salberg

Put a #6 in there: Delete Unused Accounts. I recently wrote about setting aside a particular day each year to do this, but maybe tossing it in with a general spring cleaning is a good idea, too. It’s well past Spring for us here in Florida, but better late than never.

The basic idea is that we are all signed up for dozens (if not hundreds) of web apps that we never use, or only used once and never returned. Some of them email us regularly, but even if you click the unsubscribe link on the email, that only stops you from getting updates. They still have you listed as a “user”. Many of these startups use their rolls of users to strut their apps (i.e. “We have 1.2 million users!”). Really? Comscore and others make an earnest effort to try and figure out who is actually using these apps and who are just lurking registered users that never returned, but it’s hard to do so when apps won’t release their stats. Simple page views and analytics don’t tell the real deal.

Plus, I don’t like the idea of these starving apps having my user info if I’m no longer using it. I imagine it sitting around on a CD in some founder’s apartment while he is waiting for a round of funding for his next new venture.

If you are like me, you save those early registration emails. If you didn’t put them in a folder or label them, search for keywords like “registration” or “welcome” or “password”. You might be surprised to see all the stuff you are still registered for that you’ve long forgot about.

Once I delete my account, I delete the original welcome emails so I’ll know it’s gone forever.


I like most of Mike’s tips. I also include a review of all web apps and most especially, social web apps. Get rid of all the ones you never use. Same goes for bookmarks.

And my biggest point of noise reduction – prune your Following list in Twitter.


For linux users, in spring both Fedora (9) and Ubuntu (8.04 Hardy) launch new versions so upgrade.

I do a full install and only install what I need so I get rid of old things that I am not using.

Comments are closed.