My Wardrobe, Myself

The intersection of clothing, emotions, and life

NOTE:  This post was originally published on my previous blog, Recovering Shopaholic

I was planning on doing an update on my “Full Life Project” today.  However, as I read through my initial post on that topic and my April follow-up, I realized there is another subject I’d like to explore first.  As you might remember, the words I selected as my theme for 2014 were “simplicity” and “joy.”  Unfortunately, I don’t feel I’m doing very well in manifesting that reality for myself and there is one big reason for that.

In today’s post, I explore two topics that have been adversely impacting my life for a long time, fear of missing out (FOMO) and information overload.  I know that I am not alone in this struggle, and I understand that FOMO is often a big driver of compulsive shopping behavior.  I don’t have all the answers and am still very much in the midst of the fog, but I hope that writing about my battle will help shed some light on it for both myself and others.

Information overload

Is information overload adversely impacting your life?

First, a Bit of History

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a thirst for knowledge.  Even as a young child, my head was always buried in a book, and my mother recently told me that my favorite outing was going to the library. I begged her to take me there every day so I could dive into the wealth of information that was housed within.  This love of information only intensified as I grew older.  Not only did I love school, but I developed a number of interests that ranged beyond the topics I studied in my classes.

While it may seem like my passion for information has been a blessing – and in many ways, it has – it has also become a curse.  In addition to my overshopping for clothes, I also bought far too many books, especially since makes it so easy to order with a single mouse click.  Over the years, my bookshelves became more and more overloaded with books I wanted to read.  Even as my queue grew longer, I continued to purchase more tomes to add to the mix.  As if that was not enough, I also subscribed to a plethora of magazines.  With subscriptions going for as little as $12 per year, it seemed like a no-brainer to say yes to all of the offers that were sent my way.

As the information age exploded, the range of data at my fingertips became virtually limitless.  With the ease of RSS readers, I added countless blogs to my feed, and my web browser always has at least twenty open tabs (I just counted now and there are 37!).  Then I learned about a new app called Pocket which allows me to save online articles to read later.  Although I didn’t have time to read all of the articles when I first saw them, I didn’t want to miss out on potentially life-changing information.  So I saved it for later when I hoped I’d have more time to sit back and enjoy the inflow of knowledge into my sponge of a brain.

Simplicity, This is Not!

I have to admit that I feel tired just from typing the abridged history recounted above.  I’m overwhelmed from all of the information I’ve allowed to enter my home – and my brain – and it definitely is not in line with my simplicity theme for the year.  What’s more, the overflowing knowledge bank I’ve built does not lead me to feel at all joyous!

While this discussion is a bit off the beaten path of the topics usually discussed on this blog, there are some strong parallels to the way in which many of us approach our wardrobes.  We don’t want to miss out on great deals, new trends, and fabulous clothing, shoes, and accessories.  We hate to think that the magical garment that will make us feel breathtakingly beautiful will slip out of our grasp when we’re not paying attention.  So we subscribe to email updates from our favorite retailers, stalk the new offerings on e-commerce sites, and head out to the mall every weekend to see what’s new.

FOMO and Unhappiness

I’m convinced that fear of missing out (FOMO) is a big cause of unhappiness for far too many people in modern society.  FOMO leads us to feel like what we have – and who we are – isn’t good enough.  It’s what’s next that matters rather than what is in the here and now.  I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know that I’ve become anxious, restless, and miserable as a result of my feverish attempt to stay on top of things.  While I’ve made some good progress in paring down my wardrobe and cutting back on my shopping habit, I still feel a distinct lack of inner peace.  What’s more, as I’ve shopped less, my FOMO has intensified in the realm of information.

Something’s got to give, as I can’t take the status quo anymore.  Perhaps I’m just more aware of what FOMO is costing me and it isn’t really worse than it was in the past.  But, bottom line, I know I have to change or I’ll never feel the sense of calm and flow I so desperately crave.  I realize the depth of my information addiction as I’ve been typing this post, as I stopped to check my email several times.  What exactly do I think is so urgent that it needs to be attended to every few minutes?  I shake my head at, excuse my call-back to a recent post, the folly of it all.

Laying It All Out on the Table

Now I’m not one to want to vent ad nauseum, but it does feel good to get some of this out into the open.  I’d like to make some powerful changes in my addiction to information, as I feel it’s an important key to increasing my happiness and having a fuller life.  But before I can change it, I need to get real about the current state of affairs.  Here are the sources of information overload in my life:

  1. Books
  2. Magazines
  3. Articles I’ve cut out from previous magazines
  4. Current blog articles in my feed
  5. Blog articles I’ve saved for later
  6. Articles I’ve saved to the Pocket app
  7. Email
  8. Open web tabs
  9. Social media (I often peruse Facebook and Twitter and find more articles to read – those get opened in web tabs!)

Just making the list above made me tired, so you see the bind I’m in.  Perhaps some of you can relate to my current dilemma.  Part of me just wants to get rid of everything and start over (Courtney Carver recommended killing the “read later” folder in this recent blog post), but that’s a bit too scary for me to contemplate at present.  Yet that doesn’t mean I can’t make a positive impact on the situation in the near term.

Taking Powerful Action to Address Information Overload

I was originally going to publish this post on Tuesday.  I started typing out a plan for addressing my information overload, but decided to immediately start taking action instead.  As a result, I feel this post is more powerful, as I’m already “walking my talk.”

Here are the actions I’ve already taken this week to lighten my load and bring more simplicity and joy into my life:

  1. Cleared out over 400 articles in my Pocket app (there are only 18 articles left at the time of this writing)!
  2. Cleared out close to 200 articles that I had “saved for later” in my Feedly RSS reader (there are now only 19 remaining).
  3. Deleted about half of my blog subscriptions (there are still probably too many, but I made a good start).
  4. Threw close to half of the articles in my physical “to read” file into the recycle bin.
  5. Deleted approximately 125 emails from the “Read_Watch” folder in my email program (only 18 remain).

The above five actions took me close to four hours to do, but I feel it was time well spent.  I decided to strike while the iron was hot, so to speak, as I was definitely ready to make a positive dent in my state of information overload.  I have to be honest, though, and tell you that I did feel FOMO kicking in as I hit the delete key or threw an article into the recycle pile.  Part of me wondered if I would miss out on an information nugget that would somehow transform my life.  Happily, though, my desire for freedom (one of my highest values) triumphed over my fears.

Reclaiming My Time and My Life – Next Steps

Of course, there is still work to be done.  I need to continue the momentum that I’ve started and take more steps to release myself from the bondage that is information overload.  Here is my plan:

1. Cancel all of my magazine subscriptions.

I recently learned of an app called Texture which will allow me to view magazines via my tablet device of choice (not surprisingly, there are three of them in my small home!).  This way, I won’t have piles of unread magazines begging to be read and I won’t feel any guilt if I opt not to peruse a given issue.

I first lamented the lack of a bookmark feature within Texture, but I now feel it’s a good thing for me.  I can’t save articles to read later, so I either need to read something when I see it or remember to go back to it (which I usually won’t do).

Of course, having electronic access to a large number of magazines can be problematic, so I have set a limit for myself.  I have selected twelve magazines to view via Texture.  If I want to add another subscription to my list, I have to eliminate an existing one.  I know that twelve still seems like a high number and I will likely elect to reduce it down the road.  But I probably have twice that number of subscriptions at present, so I’m happy to have sliced my load in half.

My next step is to cancel all of my physical magazine subscriptions and I commit to doing that within the next week.  The good news is that I will save some money in the process, as Texture costs between $10 and $15 per month (depending upon which publications you wish to access) and I was spending far more than $120-180 per year on my magazine subscriptions.

2. Eliminate the current backlog.

Although I managed to pare down my information backlog considerably, I still have some work to do.  Since my read later queues in Feedly (blogs), Pocket (articles), and email are all under 20, I should be able to knock those down to zero by the end of the week.   I will also close out all of the extra web tabs (I leave a few open that relate to the blog) by week’s end, too.

It will take a bit longer to pare down the physical article file, but I have a plan in place for that task.  I will read five articles per day (typically during my morning session on the elliptical trainer – I read blogs then, too) until they’re all gone, which will likely take a few weeks.  Then, since I’ll be accessing all my magazines online, this queue can be completely eliminated for good!

3. Prevent future backlogs.

Of course, I want to make sure I don’t recreate the same situation again in a few months’ time, so I have a plan for that, too.  Any blogs that I haven’t read by Sunday evening each week will be deleted.  As for the “read later” queues, they will be deleted at the end of each month, regardless of whether or not the articles within have been read.  I often save articles in either Feedly or Pocket to include in my monthly useful links posts for the blog, so I’ll zero those queues out after I’ve written the post.  In regards to web tabs, I will make sure to pare those down by Sunday evening, too, so I can start each week fresh.

4.  Manage email overload.

I’ve already removed myself from a number of mailing lists, but I will continue to streamline the information that enters my in-box.  As I read my email (will aim to only do this two to three times per day instead of continuously!), I will ask myself the following question about all list memberships:

Does this add value to my life?”

If the answer is no, or if I hem and haw, I will click on “unsubscribe” and reclaim a slice of time for myself.  No need to keep receiving information that serves little purpose in my life.

5.  Dealing with the rest.

You’ll notice I didn’t really mention my books and social media.  While both of those areas used to be big problems for me, they have since been superseded by magazines, blogs, and online articles.  I’ve been gradually paring down my book collection and haven’t been buying nearly as many books as in the past.  When I do buy books these days, more often than not, they’re e-books.  Still, I don’t want to go crazy there, either.  I currently have 22 e-books in my Kindle app, but close to half of those are either cookbooks (that I reference on occasion) or books I’ve already read.   I need to make an effort to read the current books before I add new ones to the mix.

I’d like to start reading books more often and should be able to do so now that I’m dealing with the rest of my information backlog.  My plan is to read books while on my elliptical trainer (which I use for 45 minutes Monday through Friday mornings) every other day and peruse magazines and blogs on the alternate days.  That way, I’ll be able to enjoy various forms of information without spending too much time on any one type.  I also want to start reading more books in the evenings instead of surfing the internet or watching TV, as I feel that will be more rewarding for me overall.

In regards to social media, I plan to spend time there more deliberately instead of haphazardly.  While I don’t wish to create too many rules for myself, perhaps having a social media half-hour time block each day would be a good practice.  I’m going to give that a try, see how it goes, and make adjustments as needed.

Celebrating Freedom

While the above plan won’t necessarily solve all of my problems, I feel like it’s an excellent start.  I think we need to be ready to make changes and once we are, it often isn’t as difficult as we think it will be.  Some of us are able to pare down our wardrobes in very short order once we become present to how much our overstuffed closets are costing us.  Although I haven’t decreased the number of garments I own as quickly as some of you, I’ve been able to do so slowly and steadily once I made the decision to do it .

Likewise, I needed to become acutely aware of the damage that my information overload was doing to my psyche and my life.  Achieving that awareness enabled me to make a significant dent in the problem in just a single afternoon.  Sometimes we just need to get mad as hell such that we decide we don’t want to take it anymore (to quote the great line from “Network”).

I’m sure FOMO is still going to grab me by the throat at times and leave me breathless and trembling.  And I may experience some ups and downs along the path toward freedom.  That’s to be expected, but I feel I’ve reached a powerful turning point.  I have no plans to go back to the way things were just days ago.  It didn’t make me happy and it didn’t even really make me smarter or more prepared to face the challenges of life.  It just made me tired and overwhelmed, and added clutter to my home, computer, and brain.  No more!  Just as I want to trade my full closet for a full life, I also wish to swap my overloaded hard drive for a more robust experience in the real world.

Your Thoughts and Experiences?

Now it’s your turn to chime in.  I’d love to hear about your experiences with fear of missing out (FOMO) and information overload, whether you’re still struggling or you’ve somehow managed to conquer these issues.  If you are now on the other side of the abyss and can offer any words of wisdom to those of us still mired in the morass, please share.  I always learn so much from your comments and I know others benefit, too.  We all have different strengths and weaknesses and can help each other improve in various ways.

80 thoughts on “Dealing with FOMO and Information Overload

  1. Erin says:

    I’m still struggling with this one myself 🙂 I don’t have as much of a problem with physical items, but FOMO is a killer. These seem like some great steps for reigning it in though, I’ll definitely be using a few!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Yes, FOMO IS a killer, Erin! I suspect I’ll be writing more on that topic in the future, as I’m sure I haven’t fully conquered it yet. Good for you for doing well with physical items! I’m doing SO much better than I used to – the clothes and information are my last bastions of clutter.

  2. KimM. says:

    Sounds like you’ve been very productive this week. Like you, I used to have lots of books. I’d buy them, read them and tuck them away on a shelf. Then whenever I’d move to a new house I’d move all those heavy books with me. After moving 11 times in 15 years, I got tired of moving all the books. I realized that I never re-read books. Ever. So why on earth was I keeping them? Mainly because I spent the money on them I think. Once I realized this I began donating all the books. The only ones I’ve kept are my favorite cookbooks (6), home & interior design (15), and about 12 other miscellaneous ones. I just checked and found that I have 346 books on my Kindle and only 16 left to read. About once per month I go online and choose a lot of samples to read and also free books that interest me. I load all those on the Kindle and once I’ve read them, I remove from device into cloud. That way I can keep track of which ones I’ve already read. I never thought I’d like my Kindle more than an actual book but I do. LOVE my Kindle Paperwhite!

    For almost 20 years I kept manila folders of articles to read, articles to keep, etc. That was before the internet though. I finally got rid of all those articles 2 years ago. I even had copies of every tax return ever filed, from when I was 16! I’m 50 now. Those all got shredded. Probably one of my better purchases was a heavy duty paper shredder. I use it daily.

    As far as blogs go, I just have them bookmarked and then go to them when I want to do so, rather than have them come to my email. I absolutely can’t stand leaving anything in my email inbox and either archive or delete as soon as I’ve read them.

    I’ve unsubscribed from all the retailers’ mailing lists, both digital and print, although I do still get some catalogs. You can go to to unsubscribe from print catalogs but it takes a while to take effect. I try not to go to online retailers’ sites so that I’m not tempted to buy anything – this is really hard for me because I do like looking at all those pretty things. I just keep telling myself I don’t need them and I have enough!

    I think you’ve made an excellent start this week Debbie. Keep it going – you can do it!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for sharing about your information overload journey, Kim. You seem to have really conquered this problem and have inspired me to keep on going. I have pared down lots of books, but the guilt always stops me to going the full distance there. Like you, I very rarely re-read a book. I maybe do that with 10% of the books and those are mostly reference books or a few favorite self-help books. I really should get rid of the rest – and maybe we could even get rid of one of our bookcases!

      I really like your strategy with the Kindle books and I plan to adopt it. I don’t know how to move the books from device to cloud, but I’m sure I can figure it out. I’m a bit of a Kindle newbie at this point, but I love that I don’t end up with a bunch of books in my relatively small apartment!

      Thanks for the tip on I don’t get too many catalogs, but some of them I’m not even at all interested in. Perhaps I can save a tree or two! I appreciate all of your encouragement. Perhaps when I’m 50 (in two years!), I will be past my information overload and FOMO problems, too!

      1. KimM. says:

        To move books from Kindle device to cloud isn’t too hard. Go to your Home page on your actual Kindle, find the book you just finished reading, press the title and hold for maybe 5 – 10 seconds and another screen comes up. At the bottom it says “remove from device.” That puts it back in your cloud. I think you can also do this from Amazon under “My Account.” Choose the one that says “Manage your content and devices.” Then follow the prompts. I just find it easier to do on my Kindle once I’ve just finished the book so that way I don’t forget. Hope this helps!

        1. Debbie Roes says:

          Thanks for the explanation, Kim, but I don’t have an actual Kindle. I use the Kindle app on my computer, tablets (have Nook, Xoom, and i-Pad in our home), and phone. I looked in Amazon under “My Account” and saw the option to delete but not to save to the cloud. Maybe I need to get an actual Kindle at some point…

  3. Sarah E says:

    Debbie, I can SO relate! Last weekend I decided to finally clean out some old plastic totes gathering dust in the garage, one of which held “mementos” related to my wedding. I’d been putting off going through it since the divorce. Also, a few weeks ago, my laptop, coffee roaster, and electric toothbrush all died! I spent so many hours trying to fix them, then shopping for a suitable replacement (which was NOT in the budget). By the end of the week I was exhausted and irritated and said out loud to myself “This STUFF is owning ME!” I had wasted so many useful hours trying to deal with STUFF.
    So now I definitely think carefully about how much maintenance something is going to require before bringing it home. Your “power pause” has also been immensely helpful with this and also conquering the FOMO. If you can go a couple of days without it, then maybe you are not missing out!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Congrats on going through the wedding mementos, Sarah. I’m sure that couldn’t have been easy, but it’s so good that you did it. Bummer about all of your gadgets breaking down so close together! So true that our stuff ends up owning us instead of the other way around. I didn’t realize that until recently, but now that I know better, I have to do better! I’m glad my blog and the tips I share are helping you with FOMO. The “power pause” (originated by Jill Chivers) has been instrumental for me, too!

  4. Holly says:

    Good post! I’ve done something similar over the past months. I have eliminated all but one physical magazine (kept Vanity Fair) and limited myself to eight electronic subscriptions. I’ll have to total up the monthly fees to see if I’d save by using the Next Issue app. Thanks for that great tip. I also went through the house and culled through all magazines (in piles in various rooms, waiting to be read) and kept a dozen to leaf through and read. The rest I divided into two piles. Those older than a year were put into recycling. The more current ones I systematically dropped at various hospitals over the course of a month or two. My husband is ill and we have a lot of hospital appointments for him. It was actually fun to decide which 8 issues would go with me on a particular day. And as I leafed through and read the dozen I’d saved, I added those to the donate pile. Now I have no old magazines on hand. I have stopped buying paper books for the most part, and now I need to tackle the many old books in my library. I do challenge myself to add five books to each bag of clothes I send to charity (church rummage, Goodwill, etc.) so at least that’s a start.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Seems like we’re on a similar path, Holly. You’ve done so well in paring things down – congrats! Next Issue is a good deal for me, as I subscribe to some weekly publications. If all you have a monthlies, the numbers might be about the same. I do love the ease of it, though. Sorry to hear that your husband is ill. I hope it’s just a temporary thing and that he’ll be okay soon. Keep up the great work with paring things down – good idea to add 5 books to each clothing donation bag!

  5. BamaCarol says:

    This so resonates with me! I have come to realize in the last few months that I have way too much stuff around and am working towards eliminating it. Clothing and books are at the top of the list of items I am overwhelmed by and I am slowly trying to eliminate both. At times I want to just grab everything up and toss it or donate but I believe if I do it systematically and with forethought that I will end up with a just right amount. I am sorry that you are suffering from the same thing but glad to know that I am not alone. Have you ever tried to sell your books back to Amazon? I have been doing that with my cookbooks, crafting and reference books. I realize it gives me credit at Amazon but I know that I will always shop from there even if mainly for gifts and I feel that at least I am getting back a part of the money I have wasted over the years. It will be interesting to see how you do and how I do over the next few months. You are inspiring me to keep at it.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’ve never tried to sell my books back to Amazon, BamaCarol, but I’ve purchased books that others have sold there. I’ve usually just donated them, but selling them might be a good thing to do, especially for more expensive books. I know I feel better consigning some of my clothes in that I get some return on my investment, so the same philosophy would apply to books. A good mix of selling and donated would likely work well for me. I’m glad I’m inspiring you to keep downsizing. It always feels so good when I do it, I wonder why I didn’t do it sooner!

  6. Saltbox says:

    This makes a lot of sense to me too. I collect books to read ‘later’. Then what do I do instead of read them? I look for blogs to read ‘later’. Then I spend time online on forums looking for the latest ‘must have’ beauty item I also collect books to read on my kindle. I collect pictures on my pinterest board of clothes, interiors, things I aspire to.

    And just what am I doing with all this collecting? I’m procrastinating, that’s what. I’m reading about what I ‘should/could’ be doing with my life instead of getting on with living it. I’ve turned into an observer of others instead of a partaker in my own life in the here and now.

    Anyone else feel like this too?

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Your comment really resonated for me, Saltbox. I definitely think the data collecting we do can be a form of procrastinating. Shopping has filled that role for me, too. I’d rather not think about the problems in my life that seem insurmountable, so I shop, read, collect, etc. I haven’t delved too much into Pinterest yet, but that’s just because I know that it would be like opening Pandora’s box for me. I really need to spend more time out in the real world instead of on my computer (and malls and boutiques don’t really count!).

    2. Annette says:

      I can relate to your your situation. “I’m procrastinating, that’s what. I’m reading about what I ‘should/could’ be doing with my life instead of getting on with living it.” Sadly I do the same things but just last night I spent some time deleting items. How freeing it felt. I still have a way to go but I have made a start.
      Pinterest is a bit more under control in that I mainly pin from my own readings rather than searching others. I also limit my boards to 50 items so that I can easily find what I’m looking for when I go back. It does mean that sometimes I end up splitting them into 2 boards.
      I look forward to more time acting on what I’ve been reading and reading more library books on my list.

    3. TexasAggieMom says:

      Saltbox, thanks for articulating my situation so clearly: ” I’m reading about what I ‘should/could’ be doing with my life instead of getting on with living it. ” This could also be said of my shopping habit. I’m buying clothes for some imaginary life that hasn’t shown up yet, and spending countless hours building a wardrobe that I never actually wear. A quick survey of the 30-plus items I have purchased this spring/summer finds almost all of them unworn. Reading Debbie’s insights helps, along with all the reader comments, but I need to figure out why I am “stuck” in these areas of my life. FOMO definitely plays into it, as does information overload, and for me, that centers on fashion information. I’ll be taking a hard look at the various sources of information pouring into my life (some very valid and worth keeping, like this blog) to see how I can reduce them, especially those that trigger FOMO and my shopping tendencies. Thanks to Debbie and this community of articulate, thoughtful people – it does take a village, and I’m glad you are all a part of mine!

      1. Saltbox says:

        I’m glad it made sense to you both as well as Debbie. As a result of really thinking about the effect on me I’ve drastically cut down Internet time. I got so much done offline this weekend it was unreal I also had time to read!!

      2. Debbie Roes says:

        You’re right that it takes a village, TexasAggieMom! I’m very happy to have all of you to share my ideas with and receive your input. It helps me tremendously! Like you, I sometimes buy clothes for an imaginary lifestyle. I’m getting better at not doing that, but I’m still feeling the repercussions of my past behavior.

        I’m glad you were able to get done offline this weekend, Saltbox! I spent a lot of time on paring down my information backlogs, but that got me really present to how much my addiction to information has been costing me in terms of time, energy, and brain power. I never want to go back to where I was. I’m very clear on that now!

  7. Liz says:

    Even if you have too many books on your “devices,” you might want to add “The Paradox of Choice” by Barry Schwartz. It addresses FOMO and overshopping, but especially how more choices has made us (generally) more miserable. More does not equal Better, and More Choices does not equal Better Choices, in fact quite the opposite! Full of fascinating data. I keep re-reading it.

    1. Amy says:

      He has a TED talk on this very issue. It’s free online and doesn’t take up any physical space. 😉 I’m loving this thread and learning a lot!

    2. Debbie Roes says:

      I haven’t read the book but I have watched the TED talk several times and loved it! Here’s the link for anyone who is interested: I may read the book, too, as this theme is HUGE in my life right now and I’d like to delve deeper.

  8. Lisa says:

    I also used to subscribe to every magazine because they were cheap. And I could not keep up with them all. Also I’ve noticed that magazines are cyclical. They often repeat very similar ideas within a year or two. I’ve also moved a number of times over the years and every move had large heavy boxes of books. While e-readers are easier to move (lighter in weight) they can still contain clutter. If I start a book and notice I put it off to do other things, I delete it. Obviously I’m not interested in it. And I set up dates when I review e-mails, netflix movie lists, etc. This way I stay on top of the clutter periodically and I know what I have.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      So right, Lisa, that magazines are cyclical. I sometimes pick up one I haven’t looked at in awhile (like at the hair salon) and I feel a sense of deja vu about the content. As for books, I agree that e-readers represent an improvement but have their own dangers. I like your rule of deleting books you’re not reading. I also think that setting up dates to review email and lists is a great plan and one I think I should adopt. The last thing I want is to build up a backlog again!

  9. Sallysue says:

    Since moving to a bigger city my family and I have discovered our local library- which happens to be a couple of blocks away. When we lived in a small town I rarely went to the library and subsequently spent $$$ at Barnes & Noble and Amazon. I love books and have passed that down to my daughter so they are important but I realized I don’t re-read them so I don’t need to own them. I still buy books for my daughter because she will re-read many times over and then when she is done she resells them back to the bookstore to earn credit for more books. Our library has a wonderful “hold” system which allows me to read about a book, put it on hold and wait for it to be delivered (their ebook option is great too- I just like paper). I have realized that I’m not a fast reader so I really don’t need more than one book at a time. And if I am disappointed in the book, I also can just return it without feeling guilty about wasting money. If I love the book then I put it on my Amazon wish list to add to a future order.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for mentioning the library, Sallysue. I think too many people forget about that option, and they even have electronic options now. I used to do just what you mentioned – hold books and wait until they’re delivered, but I got out of that habit. My mother-in-law (age 81) does this all the time, though, and always has a stack of books in her home from the library. I think your plan for one at a time is much better! The library is a good way for us to read a lot without accumulating a lot, and for us to “test drive” books we may want to buy.

  10. Jessica says:

    Congrats, you have taken some big steps this week Debbie! I think addressing this issue (the information overload) will help you very much in your recovery. I am very interested in the overall effects. Keep up the good work 🙂

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you, Jessica. This DOES feel like an important step in my recovery, as I feel all of these over-accumulation tendencies are related. Beginning to conquer the clothes has given me strength to address the information overload, which seems even more pervasive, believe it or not. I will definitely write more about this in the future!

  11. I definitely hog information and then get bogged down by it. My Feedly app is such a blessing and curse altogether, as is my bookmarks folder, as is Twitter and Facebook. I basically have all my favorite blogs in Feedly, which saves me the time of wandering from blog to blog, but with F/T/FB, I basically “open in new window” anything I find interesting in a feed or blog post. Since I’m essentially tethered to my computer at work, I’m effectively giving myself another “to do list” on top of whatever my work goals are for the day, and it can get very overwhelming and very hard to fight the instinct to close virtual windows instead of crossing of real things. Everything demands our attention and demands to be prioritized and it’s exhausting. But it’s also hard, because so much of it has some value. I like connecting with my friends on Facebook and peer-strangers (like fellow bloggers with shared interests) on Twitter and Instagram. I find great value in the shared experiences and tips blog posts offer, and sometimes in the beauty of what is presented and how. But it’s all too much. I barely touch my magazines (I only subscribe to Dwell, House Beautiful, and Real Simple at this point), and I have to pull teeth to read a book because everything everywhere. I’m not even a big tv watcher, but I volunteer too often and say yes too easily when people ask of my time — again, a problem exacerbated by the value I find in the personal connections and interactions and the importance of the work and friendships at the heart of the request.

    I love/hate technology. The only time I’m “off” is when I’m sleeping, in the shower, or desperately ill. It’s not sustainable. It’s not simple. And it’s encouraged me to coin a phrase that I feel applies too often: I float on the minutes and hours while drowning in the days and months and years.

    Life should not be such a blur.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I felt such resonance with what you wrote, Rebecca. And I have to admit that reading about your information overload made me feel tired and anxious. I can sense how much it’s draining you, just like it does for me. Your coined phrase made tears well up in my eyes, as well as your final sentence. I agree that life should not be such a blur. We are human beings, not human doings.

      The information age is both a blessing and a curse. I love how easy it is to access information at our fingertips, but yet it can be a prison. I know someone who is in the midst of a month-long “digital sabbatical.” I look forward to hearing how that goes for her. She’s even a blogger, but she scheduled her blog posts in advance. I know such a long break isn’t feasible for most of us, but the majority of us could pare down and even go one or two days per week without our gadgets. I try to take the weekends off from being at my computer, or at least Sunday, but I still spend a bunch of time on my photo and tablet, so it’s not the break I really need.

      What I did this week has decreased my anxiety and inner frenzy, but I still feel some inner unrest. I’m not totally sure what I need to do in order to quiet all of the noise in my brain (which often prevents me from sleeping), but I feel like I’m on the right track. I know I will be writing more on this topic, as it relates more to overshopping than I would have thought. It’s just all too much! I wish for peace, not only for myself but for you, Rebecca, and all of us who struggle!

  12. LenaM says:

    One big exception: I’d keep my federal and state tax returns FOREVER. Or at least the W2s and 1099s. Bad things can happen if a discrepancy comes up in the SSA records — and the IRS will not be able to help you out.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for sharing this, Lena. I always thought we only had to save tax returns for seven years! I think that my husband and I have ours from since we got married because we just have so many papers overall. I will pare down in other areas but hang on to the tax papers.

  13. Shelley says:

    Riveting as usual Debbie thank you. I am definitely one of those FOMO people and it makes me feel scattered and silly, not the focused, productive and calm person I wish to be. I have been throwing email into a ‘read’ folder for years and never going back to it. A couple of times I have ‘lost’ folders and been glad about it – that should have been a clue! Fyi I never divert your blogs there, I usually read them the same day. I guess the most relevant/timely items will grab your attention and you have to let the rest go – easier said than done. Love watching old episodes of NEAT and feel inspired to move stuff outta here/makes me temporarily realistic about my time. Its the same with clothes you come to the realization of “in a 12 month period how much can you possibly wear?”

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed this post, Shelley, and that my blog doesn’t get lost in your “to read” folder! I sometimes divert what I think is good stuff into those types of folders, but most of it I can live a long happy life without. As you can see, I only saved a small number of articles and those were the ones in which I was genuinely interested. I look forward to reading those this weekend. I think your analogy to clothes is quite apt. We can only wear so many items of clothing and we can only consume so much information. Anything over that amount adversely impacts our inner peace!

  14. Katt says:

    Wonderful post Debbie! Thank you so much for sharing. This really does hit home for me, both in my personal and professional life. Because I work with books, I often end up with too many in my home. I find somewhere I can donate books, and I try to get rid of things I know I won’t read. The staff in my dentist’s office are almost all avid readers, so they get whatever I can cull.
    I think I have around 775 titles on my kindle app, but a good chunk of this is work-related.
    Several months before I got married, I began a major book purge, since I needed the space for my husband and his stuff. I had a lot of emotions about doing such a huge purge. I found it much easier to get rid of clothing, although when I hit the sentimental stuff it got more difficult. I am a re-reader, so I kept my favorites, my dearly best beloveds.
    I’m finally ready to part with some of my bookcases, although that has taken quite some time. We live in a 2-bedroom apartment, so space is definitely a consideration.
    I gave up subscribing to magazines years ago, but I feel that Feedly has replaced my magazine habit. My feeds could use a good cull though. I think there are some inactive blogs that could be deleted, and honestly, I probably look at maybe 20 of them and the rest just sit there.
    I would like to spend more time reading and less time looking at social media and blogs. I never thought I would be a person who read ebooks, but for a number of reasons, that’s how things have turned out. I seem to fall into a social media trance; I’m not sure I’m even that engaged by what I find there. I feel it eats away time that could be spent in more productive and nourishing ways. I’m not convinced that social media feeds my soul, but I do know that this blog does.
    When I come home tired after a long work day and a longer commute, I do want to unplug and relax before and after dinner.
    I think I will try to do some chores in the morning this weekend and spend a fixed amount of time staring into my tablet. I do something like this weekday mornings and it has worked well. I have a cut off time, and I stick to it.
    Very thought provoking post. Thanks again 🙂

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you for sharing about your information overload journey, Katt. I can relate to wanting to part with books and bookcases, as I also live in a 2-bedroom apartment. It’s been a gradual pare-down for me with the books, too. I’m surprised at how many emotions are tied to books and how much guilt I often feel when I work on culling them. But every time I do a pass-through of my book collection, I feel ready to get rid of a few more, just like it is with my clothes. I think that for many of us, simplifying is a longer process. I admire those who can do it in one fell swoop, but that often causes me too much anxiety (and in terms of clothes, generally leads to a shopping “binge”).

      I get what you wrote about social media. I used to go into that trance, too, which is why I don’t do much with social media anymore. I often feel like I should do more in order to make blogging connections and help to grow the blog, but I can’t bring myself to spend much time there. Fortunately, the blog is still growing despite my aversion to social media.

      I like your idea of having a cut-off time for digital involvement. I need to do that, as sometimes hours go by and I wonder where they went. I think most things are not inherently bad and can even be good, but in excess they are often problematic. This is true with shopping, TV, the internet, blogs, books, etc. It’s difficult for me to do things in moderation, as I tend to be so all or nothing. But I know it’s possible and I will continue to work on it (and share what I’m learning).

  15. Tonya says:

    Good for you Debbie! I think this will help with your full life goals because you will have more time to dedicate toward them. I don’t read any magazines and only read a small handful of blogs, but I definitely like my books and have too many! This was very interesting to me because most of the things that you’ve mentioned I don’t really do. To me that makes my shopping habits stand out even more. It is something for me to think about because the way I look at online shopping sites and the amount I buy are at odds with the way I behave for the rest of my life.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Agreed about the full-life goals, Tonya. We only have so much time and I need to carve out a bigger slice to work on that area of my life. I think it’s great that you don’t have too much of an information overload problem, but I’m glad that you still benefitted from this post. I think that realizing how our behavior is contrary to who we are – or who we would like to be – can be an important step in our recovery. I used to criticize those who have their heads down in their phones all the time, but I recently realized that I had become such a person. I decided I really need to limit my digital involvement, as it’s running my life, just like shopping has done for so long (and sometimes still does). I hope the realization you had today will help you get to the next level. You’re already doing so well – shopping much less, spending a lot less money, and cultivating new interests, but I know you want to continue to improve. I have faith that you will!

  16. Alex says:

    I just wanted to compliment you on your progress! I know I first hand how difficult it is clearing out read it later queues (Instapaper was both my best friend and my worst enemy!), unsubscribing from email lists, and cleaning out rss subscriptions. It took me so long to muster that kind of courage and the fact that you did it in four hours is amazing.

    I’ve found that articles like these really help validate the desire to clear things out. It’s almost like permission to let go of all those things that you won’t read but feel like you should. So thank you for posting this! And the best of wishes on your future dealings with information overload!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you for your praise and best wishes, Alex. I think I had kind of reached “rock bottom” with my information overload and was really ready to change. That’s why I worked on it then instead of finishing and publishing the blog post. It felt like the right thing to do even though I didn’t like to have waited until Wednesday to publish a new blog post this week. But as I’ve written before, I’m aiming for progress not perfection, and that applies to the blog as well as my shopping and my wardrobe! I still have some work to do with both FOMO and information overload, but I feel I’ve reached a turning point. It was just time!

  17. Kayla says:

    Debbie, good for you! You’ve made a fantastic start to dealing with information overload.
    I definitely suffer from FOMO with clothes, although not so much with information. I did, however, used to be quite a magazine junkie and spent a lot on magazines before they were available electronically (especially English language ones, which used to cost about $10-15 an issue where I live!). One day I came to the realization that reading a magazine almost always made me want to buy stuff (which is their goal, of course…), so now I try only to read magazines that won’t make me want things. This has cut my magazine consumption down to about 1-2 per month and reduced some of the clutter in my apartment.
    I also used to keep many magazine cuttings and articles, but a few years ago I decided to get rid of them and not collect anymore. In pre-internet days it might have been important to hold on to information, but these days anything we need is usually just a google search away.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I think you’re so right, Kayla, about magazines increasing our desire to buy. Your policy of only reading ones that don’t make you want to buy things is a great one. If I did that, I would cut down my subscriptions considerably! It’s true that most of what we need is just a Google search away. I don’t save many articles after I’ve read them, so most of my clutter is old (and can probably just be tossed). Once I can break my FOMO about the new articles, I will be home free. Soon!

  18. Renee says:

    I totally get this. Today I checked a whole stack of unread and partially read magazines in the recycling bin. I no longer subscribe to anything but still receive Ones from AAA, the alumni association, and zoo and museum memberships. I also pick up the free parenting magazines for ideas for activities and events. In all the cases ai only keep the most recent issue. Once the next one comes the other has to go.

    I rarely read Twitter anymore, no longer read the news (too depressing and if there’s something critical my husband will tell me), and told Facebook not to show me anything from Huffington Post, Jezebel, BuzzFeed and things of that ilk, since they’re usually fear-based, sensationalistic or celebrity driven nonsense. I unfollow people ruthlessly. It has taken a little while to get comfortable with this but it has been so mentally freeing. I took Facebook off my phone and put it back on so I could more easily post pictures of my kids but I think I’m going to take it off again. Not checking it every time I have 30 spare seconds is wonderfully calming. I have a number of things in my Feedly, including RS, but unfollow blogs as soon as I get bored or they start to bug me. I have far fewer tabs open these days, and frequently have none.

    As far as email, I love how gmail sorts them now, so I can pretty much ignore promotions, scan updates for important stuff, and just focus on my primary inbox, which actually receives very little traffic since most of my friends communicate via text or FB messenger.

    1. KimM. says:

      Renee, I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who doesn’t watch the news! I rarely watch TV but was reading the news online and I’ve now given that up too. It was just depressing the heck out of me or making me angry. I feel much better simply from staying away from it.

      1. Anne says:

        I gave up watching the news about 10 years ago. It has definitely increased the calm in my life. I still listen to NPR every morning so I keep up on what is going on. I just don’t get all the visual input that TV news has.

        I find that those of us who love clothes have well developed visual memories. I think that’s why the TV news affects me so much more than radio news.

        I also find I have to limit graphically violent TV shows and movies, especially not after 9:00 PM. Those can really mess up my sleep.

    2. Debbie Roes says:

      Good for you for throwing away all those magazines, Renee! I still have a stack to go through and I think I’m going to follow your lead. I already have enough to deal with, as I outlined in the article. I’m actually contemplating getting rid of my current backlog or just setting a time limit this weekend to read stuff and then purging everything else after that time. Your social media policy is excellent and I’m sure it serves you well. I unfollowed a bunch of people on Facebook awhile back, but I know I can pare things down quite a bit more.

      I am also one who never watches the news. I find it too depressing and I veer toward depression, worry, and paranoia anyway. I don’t need any additional encouragement! I sometimes read news stories online and head radio news while I’m driving, but that’s about it. Listening to NPR is a good plan, Anne. Perhaps I’ll start doing that. I can’t watch any violent TV shows or movies at pretty much any time, not just late at night. I’m very highly visual and prone to nightmares. I don’t need any help in that department, either. Radio news still affects me, but not as much as TV news. I have a good imagination, so I don’t need to see something in order to conjure up a vivid image in my mind. I know lots of bad stuff happens in the world, but most of it I don’t really need to know about, especially the things I can do nothing about (which is the majority of it). I don’t have FOMO about news, thankfully!

  19. I read your article three times already this morning, because I recognize so much. I always buy too many books. I love reading and re-read most of them often, but I also for example buy a book by an author I never read, and then I buy another book by that author before I even know I like his writing. The same goes for series, or books about a certain topic, I want to buy them all now, today. In that respect I suffer from FOMO. I am always afraid that a book I want won’t be available after today, so I need to buy it now.
    When I read your article for the third time this morning, I went to the bookstore on the net and deleted my wish-list, completely. I know two or three books by heart I really want, and I can remember those! And if I do not remember, then I probably did not want them very much, I think.
    Thank you for your eye opening articles!

    Kind regards, Bettina

    1. Anne says:

      I had a related experience last week. I opened my Wish List on Amazon and barely recognize any of the books I had put there! I deleted them all. I really like your idea that if I cannot remember the books I want, I probably don’t need them!

    2. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m so glad this article positively impacted you, Bettina! That’s so great that you deleted your wish list. You too, Anne! Both of you are inspiring me to do the same. I don’t have a wish list per se, but I do have a bunch of books in the cart “saved for later” (sounds familiar – I seem to be all about saving things for later). If I really need something, I WILL remember it! See, all of you inspire me just as much as I inspire you 🙂

  20. Rachel says:

    This post was really interesting to me. I definitely get the feeling of “what if the perfect clothing item is in that shop and I’ll miss it forever if I don’t go and look?” But lately I have been looking at FOMO the other way round. I think about all the things I have missed out on while I was traipsing round the shops. I could have been spending time with my friends and family, reading a good book, exercising more… (I did still do all of those things, but not nearly as much as I could have done if I hadn’t been shopping instead!) I’m starting to think that shopping made me miss out on a lot. Occasions came and went while I was busy looking for something to wear to them!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      This is a very valuable comment, Rachel, and I thank you for sharing your perspective. I shudder to think of how much I’ve missed out on in life because of all the time and energy I devoted (wasted) to shopping. Too bad I didn’t have FOMO in THAT respect! Your comment has really made me stop to think and think about what I want to include in the full life I wish to create.

  21. dottie says:

    I get one magazine. I subscribe to 3 blogs. I borrow books from the library. I have pared down my books (dear friends all) to a beloved 50 or so. I occasionally look at my Facebook page. I don’t Twitter or text (Luddite I am, but a happy Luddite). I don’t fearing missing out of anything because I have everything I could need or want. Some years ago, I said “Enough!” and I meant it. I think the quality of my life improved immeasurably when I stopped striving for — whatever it was I was knocking myself out to obtain. Inner peace and happiness generally don’t come from the possession of things but the relationships we have with other people, a sense of security, and self-knowledge. I wonder if people who chase stuff and information ad naseum are just running from themselves?

    1. KimM. says:

      You aren’t the only Luddite here Dottie! I’ve never had a Facebook account. I do have a Twitter account but pretty much never look at it and I’ve never tweeted anything. I rarely text as I find it easier just to talk to someone.

      1. dottie says:

        KimM – Yes, what happened to conversation as a way to communicate? I guess I’m not overly curious to know what people are doing every 5 minutes (and, really, is what anyone does on a daily basis that newsworthy that it needs to be shared with The World and His Wife?). I felt the need a few years ago to gain control over how I spent my time, and it has been a revelation on how much easier it is to live without striving for stuff, or storing stuff, or managing stuff. I have just enough, thank you very much, I jettisoned the other “stuff” on-line and through a series of garage sales.

      2. Amy says:

        I love the term “Luddite.” I too have used it to describe myself sometimes because I don’t have any social media in my life. But I do have friends I see often and keep in close touch with long time, far-away friends. And since I’ve done computer research in my work for decades and have worked as a telecommuter for a large company, I can’t really call myself techno-phobic. I just like to signal to others that I run the technology–it doesn’t run me.

        Very long ago, when answering machines were the way to get a message, I read an entertaining question in the paper to Miss Manners. Someone asked whether it was rude not to answer the phone at home when you are present, but engaged elsewhere, at dinner, for example. I loved her answer. She said that back in the day, there was a precise way to handle this if you had servants. A servant would say to the person who came calling ( a different kind of “caller”) that you were “not at home.” It was understood that you might or might not be physically present, but you were unavailable at that time. The answering machine, she suggested, had democratized the process by allowing even those of us who are servant-less to be “not at home.”

        The point is that the “servant” in modern life is the technology. We are its master.

        1. Debbie Roes says:

          Thanks for sharing your perspective and the Miss Manners story, Amy. I’m good at not always answering a phone just because it’s ringing, but I’ve had trouble with other forms of technology. It’s important to remember that WE are the masters, not the technology. It often seems like it’s the other way around. If these tools that humans created to make life easier are instead making life harder, it’s time to make some changes. It may have taken me a long time to “get” it, but I’m glad I finally did!

        2. dottie says:

          Amy: I concur with what you say. I don’t answer my phone when I have guests, and I don’t answer my cell phone when I am having lunch with friends or otherwise engaged in a human-to-human transaction (shopping, asking directions, etc.). To me this is just good manners. I used to (note past tense) have a friend with whom I had dinner frequently, and she often took calls from her adult children during dinner. And I don’t mean a quick check-up (“Hi, how did your MRI go today?”) — no, the chatting could last from appetizer to dessert. After the third time she did this, I said I couldn’t have dinner with her any longer while she had dinner with someone else and ignored me. Because she didn’t understand how rude she was (to me and all the other diners forced to put up her endless chat), I decided the game was not worth the candle. I realize that a lot of people won’t agree with me — the smart phone is like a lifeline to larger world. But it is actually rude to exclude and ignore the people you are with in the present to talk to someone else at length at a remote location. Perhaps this is part of FOMO — the need to check texts, emails and take calls while dining with other people. But is very annoying to those of us who seek our friends out for a meal because we want to be with them — and want them to be with us.

        3. dottie says:

          A few years ago, a few staff members and I were conducting a job interview with a candidate by phone. She put us on hold to take another call. In the interim while we waited in shock for her to return, we agreed that our interest in this candidate had declined sharply (including the person who was our tech guru). When she was kind enough to return to the interview, we wrapped it up pretty quickly, but she was no longer a viable candidate. Now if she had said something like, “Oh, this is hospital to let me know how my Dad’s (Mom/husband/brother/child) by-pass surgery went….” or “This the plumber letting me know when he can get here to deal with the 2 feet of water in my basement….” we would have been more understanding. But no, she just answered an incoming call. We decided the job she was interviewing for really wasn’t a priority for her.

    2. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m happy that my blog is one of only three to which you subscribe, Dottie! You have a great perspective on information and its place in your life. I aspire to get to where you are now. I believe I can and will get there, especially now that I really get what my FOMO and information overload have been costing me. I agree that inner peace and happiness do not come from things. I think I’ve always known that deep down, but my behavior has been quite contrary to that.

      I agree that real communication is sadly lacking these days. Many of us have a lot of “friends” (a la Facebook et al.) but very few real friends with whom we share time and ourselves. A lot of the digital communication that’s happening these days is tantamount to bragging and showing off and lacks authenticity (in my humble opinion, anyway). There are more and more ways in which we can communicate, but the interactions have become increasingly shallow. I feel like an old lady crying out for the “good old days,” but in a lot of respects, things were better before technology took over our lives. Of course, we are not victim to it and we can take back our time and our interactions. It may not be easy, but it is possible!

      1. dottie says:

        FB can be a great way to connect with far-flung friends and family — I really enjoy being able to see what’s happening in the lives of my friends and family members, especially people with whom I’ve reconnected after years of little or no contact (e.g., old high school buddies, etc.). I don’t see the “bragging” part of FB, but I occasionally see stuff I wish weren’t on FB — unguarded comments, for example. Once it’s out there, it’s out there for all time.

    3. Shelley says:

      Ah Dottie well-said, I can only hope to become as wise and mentally-healthy as you! I am 41 – how come I havn’t stopped this ‘more-is-better’ pattern by now? Rachel I absolutely feel the same, time is so precious and I need to think more about how do I really want to spend it.

      1. dottie says:

        Shelley: I am older than you, and I hope at some point you too will decide you have enough stuff and realize that it’s the people and not the things in your life that bring you great joy. Now I have a lot of stuff I really like and am constantly pleased that I possess them. But talking on the phone for an hour with my life-long friend is a greater joy, a deeper connection, and a more soul-warming experience than I will ever get from a pair of shoes or a pretty sweater. The shoes will wear out, the sweater will go out of style but love endures.

  22. Leah says:

    Debbie, I can relate to most of what you wrote! I too am an information junkie. I just “know” there is an interesting article, quote, blog post out there that will inspire me or change my life. So I waste way too much time looking, reading, doing searches, etc… I do the same for clothes. I become convinced that one dress, pair of boots, or leather jacket will be the perfect thing for my wardrobe and my wardrobe troubles will be solved :). I worry that nothing like this one item will ever come along again.
    The reason that it’s so difficult to stop is that sometimes I do find a great item of clothing that won’t come around again or a great book or article that does make a difference in my life. I am rewarded, if infrequently, for my FOMO. That’s why it’s difficult to stop. It’s like a gambler who wins 10% of the time so they keep coming back to repeat the thrill of winning but go broke trying to get that high again.
    I don’t read magazines much anymore because most of them are just really boring to me now. I feel the same about social media and most blogs. I realized that I didn’t care about MAC’s new limited edition lipstick or a list of life-hacks. Spending five hours reading articles about how to life-hack something is really a waste of time. The only reason I would need all these short cuts in life is to have more time to be online getting more ideas for how to save time.
    The one thing that has slowed down my FOMO is realizing what triggers my searches and my shopping. Most of my FOMO episodes begin when I’m almost desperately trying to find something, anything that inspires me – be it clothing or an amazing piece of information. Being aware of how I am using the internet really helps. Checking in with myself every 15 minutes (set a timer) to decide if I am just randomly searching, looking for anything that will give me a reward or if I am looking for a very specific purpose and I can close everything down once I’m done. Being aware, in that moment, that I am using the internet to procrastinate from life helps me stop procrastinating.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      What you describe really resonates for me, Leah. The intermittent reinforcement we get when shopping or consuming information keeps us coming back for me. Sometimes we really do find a life-changing article of clothing or article, but those are definitely few and far between. Congrats on being able to get a handle on your FOMO. I like the idea of setting a timer and I’m going to use that! I was thinking about what you wrote about magazines as I looked through one that came today (I saw your comment earlier but usually respond to a bunch at once). I did find most of the articles boring, surprisingly enough. I think I have turned a corner and may be able to put FOMO behind me soon. I agree that we often use the internet to procrastinate from life, but I’m feeling more ready to face life head on.

    2. Saltbox says:

      That really helps me Leah. I waste hours randomly surfing for life hacks or ways to organise my entire life as well as my clothes then I just surf some more instead of auctioning these great pearls of wisdom.

  23. Gina Murdock says:

    Omg I am so overwhelmed with information. I don’t know where to start. Everything I am reading sounds like you are speaking to me. I guess I’ll take baby steps. I went shopping (grocery) and stuck to my list. I also went to Walmart and saw a few things that would have been impulse purchases. I asked myself the questions and taadaa, I didn’t cave. Small victory

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      What you shared seems like a significant victory to me, Gina. It’s something you can build upon and you’ll get stronger as time goes by. Good for you! Baby steps are really the way in which success happens. Keep on going and continue to reclaim your life. I plan to do the same!

  24. Deborah (Deby) says:

    To me, the internet is like a giant library. If I want to know something, now I can look it up. There is no longer any need to keep lots of books unless they are personally valuable and/or out of print. I still have a large selection of books, but they are edited down from what they once were. I no longer keep any reference books because info on the internet is up to date.

    I have limited my “inbox’ as well. I get several fashion magazine subscriptions, which I read and give away within a month. I subscribe to 3 fashion related blogs (you, Bridget Raes and Imogene Lampour) because I get the most valuable information from the three of you. I receive about 200 emails a day and I plow through them with efficiency.

    I’ve asked myself if I feel FOMO, and I believe that I do not–as a rule Whenever I have felt a twinge of it –it was not assuaged by shopping.

    My reasons for overbuying fashion were due to feeling unattractive and not knowing what looked good on me–so for many years I was perpetually experimenting with different styles trying to find what worked for me. The result was I amassed a large closet of vastly different styles without really critically analyzing what looked good on me.

    My experiences with FOMO have mostly been to do an inability to freely enjoy recreational activities and vacations because of my time-related responsibilities to family members, first my son (I was a single mom), and now my mother who is disabled and lives with me. I have often wished I could travel more, but it has always been as complicated as a military strategy to arrange to leave my home for even a few days. This summer I managed to take an entire week’s vacation for the first time in years, but it required a huge amount of pre-planning.

    My FOMO manifests in an envy and longing to have freedom and be like friends who have no children or relatives, who are free to do whatever they want to in life. But at the same time, I realize these “free” people don’t have the same level of connection that I have despite my responsibilities, and I imagine them to be lonelier than me.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for all you shared, Deby. I’m happy that my blog is one of only two you read related to style, shopping, and the like (the other two stayed on my list, too, and will still be there even as I continue to pare down). I can relate to your reasons for overbuying fashion. Much of my overshopping was driven by feeling unattractive and not good enough, too.

      I appreciate your sharing the FOMO that you experience. I can see how you would envy those who have more freedom than you do. I can’t speak for others, but I know that I am probably lonelier than you are and I have a lot of freedom. I can do whatever I want, but I get overwhelmed by the choices and I also take my freedom for granted a lot of times. I value freedom very much, but I also value connection and that is really lacking for me (although I love the connection I have through the blog). I’m glad you were able to take a vacation this summer even if it took a Herculean effort to make it happen. I hope you won’t have to go years before your next one.

      1. Saltbox says:

        I have loads of free time and few responsibilities and I spent hours looking for things to do as I’m so lonely. Shopping and surfing fill the boredom. Thanks for sharing your perspective with us.

  25. Stacey says:

    Go on a Tim Ferriss media fast: no newspapers, TV news media, news websites/blogs or news radio or any kind for a week. The state of zen that results is golden 🙂

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m a big fan of Tim Ferriss, Stacey. I love this media fast idea. I don’t watch or read a lot of news, but overconsume other types of media. I can see how not tuning in to it all would lead to a zen-like state!

  26. Katy says:

    I have so enjoyed this post and the interesting comments that followed it. What a great conversation it’s been! I don’t subscribe to any magazines, don’t get blog notifications by email, don’t do Facebook or Twitter, or watch the news. I reason that I will hear from someone else if there’s important news, or I can read about it online. Its been a help to me in calming my life. Books are one of my weaknesses, both hard copy and e books, and I have to persuade myself to cull, if somewhat slowly.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Sounds like you’re doing very well in regards to the inflow of information into your brain and your life, Katy. Good for you! You’re right that someone will tell you if there’s news you need to know. Just reading about your low flow of information feels calming to me!

  27. Hilda says:

    Once again, a very thought provoking piece from you. I am not a shopaholic myself, but keep returning to your blog because I always learn something, get inspired or get a fresh perspective on something. As a sidenote; reading through the comments here I am so happy you keep the comments section open. Your readers always have a lot to add!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m so happy that both shopaholics and non-shopaholics can benefit from my blog, Hilda. I also gain a great deal from the comments that are made. I never really considered turning them off, but I needed to better manage them. I ended up turning off comments after 14 days and that helped the spam problem I was having tremendously. I only get a few really negative comments, fortunately. The bulk are very positive and offer a lot of valuable perspectives.

  28. GingerR says:

    I”m not keen on reading books on the elliptical. My path to simplicity is to try and do just one thing at a time. If I’m exercising then I should focus on that, having good form, maintaining my pace. If I’m reading then I like to relax and read. Doing the two together gives me half the quality of two experiences, I feel like it’s better for me to have one high quality experience.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I agree that it’s usually better to focus on just one thing at a time, Ginger. However, I think I would be really bored if I just did the elliptical and nothing else (that’s just me). What I want to do is do more reading at other times, as reading is very important to me and I want to do more of it. I just need to be a lot more selective about WHAT I read so it will be the high quality experience you mentioned.

  29. Debbie Roes says:

    New post will go live later today, but I just wanted to let everyone know that I have cancelled all of my magazines subscriptions as of a few minutes ago! I have also cleared out almost all of the “read later” backlog and should be done with that by the end of the week. I am feeling so much more freedom as a result of these seemingly simple changes. Let’s kick FOMO and information overload to the curb!

    1. Leah says:

      Congratulations! It is a good feeling. About a month ago I looked at the large stack of science magazines that I felt I needed to catch up on for work (I’m a science teacher). I realized that if I want news on a particular subject in science I can just google it. I put about 30 magazines in recycling. It’s an amazing feeling when you let go of a pile of “shoulds” (things I should do, things I should read, things I should wear, use…). Looking forward to the new post later today!

      1. Debbie Roes says:

        Congrats to you, too, Leah. I’m sure it wasn’t easy to get rid of those magazines, but you’re right that Google pretty much gives us access to all we need to know. I never realized how draining my piles of magazines and folders (physical and virtual) were, but now that I’m clearing them all away, I finally get it.

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