I read an article a few weeks back that really hit home about unanswered emails clogging up the author's inbox and the euphoria she felt when she cleared it up. You can read it here: Unanswered Emails Were the Bane of my Life by Moya Sarner at the guardian.com.
Now, I say a few weeks, but the truth is that I actually emailed myself the link so that I could write a post about it, and it promptly got lost in my own insane inbox. I found it last night while going through my own purge, and it was dated February 12th.
Last night I couldn't get to sleep. I work nights, so for obvious reasons I often have trouble sleeping on my nights off. Sometimes I (quietly) putter around the house, sometimes I read, play video games, or binge watch Netflix or whatever has piled up on my PVR. However, spring seems to actually be here, and I've been getting that cleaning itch. Since it's 2:30am, I'm not exactly going to go outside and start raking the lawn. Well, I might have, but it was raining, and still not warm enough for that.
So I decided it was time. Now, just for clarification, I had nowhere near 16,000 unread emails in my inbox. I had probably about 700 unread, and maybe another 500 read, but just sitting there waiting to be dealt with. I have a terrible habit of glancing at emails and leaving them, figuring I'll get to them eventually.
Usually I don't.
Since I was in a mood and nothing was interesting me, I decided to plunge head first into clearing up - totally - my inbox. For the next five hours I almost went blind dealing with the nightmare that had become my inbox.
I did not re-read Sarner's article prior to writing this, but I believe that she went about clearing hers in stages. I wanted to do mine all in one night, but decided to actually do it in two phases. Not really because I wanted to, but I had to. I just didn't have the time or the fortitude to do the kind of sweeping purge I had in mind all in one night.
I do feel a certain kind of lightness looking at the emptiness. However, I also now have this nagging at the back of my mind that I need to keep on top of this, need to keep it clear, need to keep checking. I think I've checked my inbox more today than all of last week, dealing with each new email as it comes. I'm going to have to find a happy balance, but will continue with my new madness for at least the foreseeable future.
So what, exactly did I do for five hours? I did it in stages. First I deleted all the old emails that I wanted to continue receiving, but had no value to me because they were outdated. Today's world runs at top speed, so I don't really need the headlines of my daily 680news.com any older than yesterday. I also closed my eyes and deleted any other weekly or dailies that I am subscribed to straight out, without even looking at them.
That was the easy part. Next, I went line by line and did one of three things, I either unsubscribed, placed it in a folder, or dealt with it. I also cleaned up all my folders and nested them under only three main ones so that I could see them at all times instead of having to scroll through the 50 or so folders I created. The hardest thing to do was deal with the ones that were left. A great many were already 'expired' - meaning that whatever I had pushed aside with the intent of going through had been pushed aside for too long. So surveys I wanted to take, reviews I wanted to write, offers I wanted to take advantage of are all gone. There's a lesson here. I need to stop procrastinating. In my real life as well as my online life.
So that's it. I have 7 emails left. One is a tax receipt I'll be using up tomorrow when I finally get around to doing our taxes, two were sent from hubby about stuff he wants me to research for him, one is a shipping notice for an item I haven't received yet, and the last three are quick ones I have promised myself I will deal with before I go to bed tonight.
What's phase two? A little simpler. I'll go through all of the emails I have in folders and delete anything older than a year, other than pictures.
And so my purge will be complete and I will feel permanently lighter.
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