Clearing Out and Cleaning Up: Electronics Edition

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Home designers have always encouraged people to declutter when they can - that's easy when it comes to large pieces of furniture that no longer match the decor, but does the same apply to tech items? Is having less really equate to more? In my latest decluttering spree, I found both cases apply and realized most tech items merely added more complications than the solutions they were intended to provide.A few months back, I had established a terrible purchasing habit. With each paycheck from the 9-5 job, I decided to treat myself to a new electronic device for month I had any extra cash laying around after rent and groceries. I bought and bought, until I accumulated (what some may call) a ridiculous amount of consumer electronics - a Wii, an Xbox 360, a Playstation 3, a DS Lite, a PSP, a 42" LCD television, a pair of headphones, a nearly complete 5.1 audiophile system (3.1 as of the moment), a new receiver, a counter-top internet radio for the kitchen, an IBM Thinkpad, a Macbook, a gaming wireless router with network attached storage and printing, and a projector without a screen. It had only been a few years after college and I had purchased nearly everything I had dreamed about during my undergraduate years.

Now, when I wanted something to do, I had a zillion choices to pick from. Should I practice Rock Band or should I jump around on this Wii Fit? How should I stream video to my television today? Surely, these purchases should have made me the happiest person ever, but slowly costs, other than the ever increasingly evaporation of my bank account, began catching up to me and I soon realized having so much junk didn't really help me - it was a hindrance.

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For one, there's wires everywhere from constant electronic turnover. My couch alone held my handheld gaming systems and my laptops and "media center" was far from accessible for anyone other than myself due to the number of button presses it took to just watch TV. After a while, it just became outright annoying for guests and myself.

So what was the main reason other than callused thumbs and index fingers? Basically, I realized didn't use half the things I bought - once a fancy gizmo collects enough dust to get you sick, that's when electronic consolidation should be taken into consideration. Plus, too many electronics actually starts to give you a different type of headache over time. It's almost like... having 20 types of ice cream in your freezer, but it changes every month so you never know which one you have to eat next.

In the end, I went on a selling spree. I sold everything down to (what I considered) the bare minimum for everyday function. eBay, Craigslist, e-mails to friends - I sold it all with some loss here and there, but the end result was no more junk around the living room and the ability to sit down for a movie without the hundred button presses that I was used to.

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I ultimately decided to stick with a Playstation 3 because it had some media streaming capability, Bluray player, and some cool games I liked. I sold my receiver and purchased one that accepted HDMI from my Comcast HD box and PS3. I downsize the television to 32" and got rid of behemoth speakers for some skinny standups.

What I learned was having less actually gave you more options to be creative and get the most out of your favorite technologies - hence the infamous tutorial for the PS3 I wrote a few months back. You can actually do so much more when your focus isn't zipping around your plethora of electronics. Try it.

[photo via mstephens7]

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