Tasks for a Sunday mood

Tasks* for a Sunday mood, restlessness, feeling like I need to Get Something Done. When I feel like that, I default to doing more work or work-adjacent hobbies on a laptop / tablet / phone. I need to stop that, I spend enough of my waking hours in the digital aether.

Prep some food

Maybe the most helpful thing for the week ahead, Wednesday-night-me will be thankful for Sunday-me’s foresight. Boil some eggs, roast vegetables, wash the veg you bought last week, bake cookies, parboil potatoes, make a bean salad, cook a big batch of chickpeas, collect some wild rocket or blackberries.

Fix / alter some clothes

Needle-felt holes in sweaters, dye the shirt you like but feel iffy about the colour, shorten trousers w/ thread or nifty iron-on hem tape, embroider over stains.

Sort through old / unused stuff

Donate or give away books that aren’t worth keeping, recycle tights w/ holes or trousers that can no longer feasibly be repaired (and get a discount while doing it!), cut up threadbare t-shirts for rags, sort through makeup and donate gently- and unused (unexpired) items to a local women’s shelter (UK, USA).

Give your plants some love

Dust off the leaves, do some repotting, pick the dried-up stipules off the pothos. Propogate the sage that grows in the park.

Cleaning / tidying

Do the weird, rarely-done cleaning tasks. Hoover the places behind bookshelves, clean your laptop, wipe off the tops of the kitchen cabinets, tidy up the chaos beneath the sinks, get the cobwebs out of the corners, take down the coats / bags that have accumulated on the hooks behind the doors and put them away properly.

Other stuff

Go for a swim. Finally finish those drawings.

 

* These are chores, really. But we need a better word than “chore” for these sorts of things, that word’s got baggage.

On applying the three Rs to digital stuff

Reduce, reuse, recycle ♻️ Can this apply to digital material? What would that mean or look like?

When I say “digital material” I don’t mean visual waste like excessive banner ads and endless newsletter popups, but actual bytes of data. Is there an alternative to emptying the trash and/or permanent storage? Device storage – the management of it, its functionality – is effectively invisible until you have a sudden problem with it. The dreaded “low disk space” warning.

This feels somewhat analogous to our IRL trash problem, but an obvious difference is that emptying IRL trash ≠ emptying digital trash. When you empty the trash at home, it becomes someone else’s problem. When you empty your digital trash, it disappears (mostly). Also, it’s worth acknowledging: right now our physical trash problem > our digital trash problem.

If we focus on the digital side of things for the moment though, the biggest issue is that people don’t empty their trash. It’s a lot easier to dump a bunch of old files on to a hard drive and call it a day than to actually go through and get rid of unnecessary stuff. This is hoarding.

Consider this condensed intro to the compulsive hoarding entry on Wikipedia as of today:

Compulsive hoarding […] is a pattern of behavior that is characterized by excessive acquisition and an inability or unwillingness to discard large quantities of objects that […] cause significant distress or impairment. Compulsive hoarding behavior has been associated with health risks, impaired functioning, economic burden, and adverse effects on friends and family members. […] Compulsive hoarders may be aware of their irrational behavior, but the emotional attachment to the hoarded objects far exceeds the motive to discard the items.

I would guess that most of us (without a doubt including myself) are digital hoarders. For me, at least, it’s driven by mild fear, a “but I might need that” mentality. It’s the same reason I frequently leave multiple browser windows with multiple tabs open. So many major services – Gmail, iCloud, AWS, Dropbox – are built to encourage this behaviour. Some services even actively discourage deletion, or make it impossible. I’m looking at you, Facebook.

But stuff, both physical and digital, has to be cared for. I pay more and more for services that store my data, I worry about hard drives failing, I get secondhand anxiety when I borrow a loved-one’s phone for a moment and notice that they have 160,000+ unread emails. On top of this, the amount of electrical energy used for data storage is significant and is only expected to increase.

So if you apply the three Rs to our digital lives, “Reduce” is still right up there on the priority list. “Reuse” and “recycle” are a little harder to port over… Perhaps we could say that by contributing to open source technology and data, you are reusing and recycling digital material. I need to do more of this.

And to think, I haven’t even touched on the importance of recycling electronic devices! A separate note, maybe.