Is your Steam library filled with games that you bought for $2 but you never had time to play them? Is your bookshelf cluttered with titles that you want to read because you bought them in a sale but again didn’t find the time to spend? Is your watchlist on Amazon Video, Netflix, etc. seemingly endless? I’ve been there. It doesn’t have to be this way.“The pile of shame” is what we call our growing list of media still waiting to be consumed. We all have one. I, for instance, have 145 games on my steam library. Most of them never even were installed in the first place. The keyword is: “Sale”. Our brains are conditioned to stop thinking as soon as we see triple-A-titles for $2. But what is a game worth if you don’t play it? Nothing at all. It’s just clutter taking space on your hard drive. This also applies to other media like books, movies and what not.
But there might be a way away from the clutter: The one-at-a-time rule. Minimalism has always been about living deliberate with the resources you have. The easiest way to live intentional with media is to just focus on one item at a time. Start with one and stop only if it doesn’t add value to your life anymore or if you are done with it. Do not buy new stuff before you’ve finished what you already have. And don’t fall for the sale. Because you can’t save money you didn’t want to spend in the first place. $2 for a video game might not look like much, but 145 times that price could be a trip to a cool city.
If you think “what if I am missing out on this or that?”, think again. There is only limited time in our lives and media consumption should not be the biggest part of it. But even if it was, there would be no way to not miss out on something. And this is fine. You don’t need to have seen every movie, read every book or played every game. If you focus on too many things at a time,, you will eventually miss out on the present.
It might be hard to get accustomed to a more deliberate consumption habit, but that’s the case with almost any bad habit. As kids we had to enjoy one game at a time as well since we didn’t have the money to buy new ones. And a lot of times this made us fell in love with a series that we still love today. I wouldn’t be enthusiastically and nostalgically talking about Pokemon as a grown adult if it wasn’t for the limitation I had as a kid.
If it worked back then, it will work today as well. And there is a nice side effect to it: Spending less money on stuff we don’t have time for will save us more money for the things that bring us joy.