The thing about clutter is that there’s no hiding it. Scrap that. Okay so there are LOADS of places to hide your clutter. Chuck it into the coat cupboard. Behind the sofa. Under the bed. In the car if you’re really desperate. We could go on. But this isn’t a guide on how to hide away your clutter. The point is, if you have clutter, you know you have it. Because even if you have hidden the kids’ toys in the under-stairs cupboard before the whole book group arrives at your house, or unsorted laundry under the bed when your mother-in-law pays an unexpected visit (surprise!) you know the mess is there, that’s why you’re trying to hide it. And later once they’ve gone you’ll have to tackle it because it’s probably in the way of stuff you need.
So in a way, the great thing about email clutter is that nobody can see it. Even your nearest and dearest aren’t going to go trawling through your emails and see you have 23,293 unopened messages. But that is also the problem…When you can’t see it, it’s a whole lot easier to ignore. Every time you go into email the guilt of the unsorted emails hits you for a millisecond but you start rattling off emails and quickly forget.
An unsorted, disorganised, expanding email inbox is time consuming, stressful and demotivating. But it’s important to remember, it’s often not your fault. True, it may be that you never delete any of your emails but it is hard to keep up when you’re bombarded daily by mails from that shop you went to once, real estate companies in countries you’ve never visited and the ‘where-shall-we-have-the-Christmas-party’ office emails which are currently pinging into your inbox faster than you can say ‘delete delete delete.’
Not good. It’s time we clawed back control. Who’s in charge of this relationship anyway? We wouldn’t put up with strangers marching into our homes, chucking random bits of junk at us. So why do we have to put up with their daily onslaught of emails? And why do so many of us fail to organize all this stuff? Setting aside time to sort this mess and to tame the inbox beast will not only leave you feeling more organised but far less stressed too.
It’ll only get worse until you start to tackle it so don’t put it off. Start today.
4-steps to tackling email clutter
- Create some simple folders to file important emails away in. Don’t make it too complex, you don’t need a file within a sub file for each dog or each online shop you’ve ever used. If you do that you’ll end up creating a rabbit warren from which you may. Never. Emerge.
Your folders could be something like: home finance, insurance, travel, online shopping, accepted invitations, work and memorabilia (anything sentimental).
- Attack the inbox. You just need to do it. No surfing the web. No downloading ‘time-saving online apps’ to help you organise. So long as you know how to group emails together and how to save them into folders, that’s all you need to know. If not, google will. So sit down and do it. Set yourself goals. Chip away.
- Focus on the 5 Ds. Do (action and file), delegate (forward to relevant people), destroy (unsubscribe from junk emails), divert (set up spam filters), delete (sort by name so you know what to keep).
- Don’t forget the sent box, this can be full of hundreds of emails. Sort by ‘sent to’, file into above folders or purge them.
Don’t try and do it all at once or you’ll be waiting until 2028. Do a few every day. Use a bus journey or the long wait in the doctor’s surgery to do a few more. Every time you shift a few more, you’ll feel the weight lift.
Images and text copyright of Sarah Macnaught, Rightsize.
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