If you don't read it, delete it. Is your inbox cluttering your mind?

As today is the first day of Spring, no doubt you might be thinking about doing a bit of a spring clean?

Does this look familiar?

Does this look familiar?

Maybe the thought of de-cluttering anything is too overwhelming?

I know, I get it, I too found piles of paper, bills, school notes, stuff, emails at times a significant part of the problem and instead of attending to them when they turned up

I left them.

Ignored them.

Allowed them to become a big scary monster in my mind to be avoided at all costs. 

The scary clutter monster

The scary clutter monster

So rather than go into all the details of the various kinds of clutter and my experience of it here, I am just going to focus on one thing at a time. See what I did there - yes ONE THING AT A TIME

My one thing is this , email clutter.

For those that know me, I work in the digital space, so my email inbox is not likely to look like yours. When you say, "I get so many emails" and maybe you get over 100 per day, at my worst, I think I was getting in excess of 700 a day.

Some days it could over a thousand.

Yep really! Over a thousand emails in a day. 

Why you ask?

Well I am a bit of a control freak and that control was well and truly out of control.

I needed to know everything, have access to everything and it got bigger and bigger and bigger until it was just a huge funnel that was so overwhelming that I just left it. 

I panicked about all the emails I received. I was driven by my inbox and let my work day be determined by what came into my inbox. So my response time was amazing. Clients knew they could email me and Leanne would be on the case ASAP. 

This came at a significant cost to me as I lived in email. My mood ebbed and flowed based around what came into my inbox and if I managed to attend to everything in my queue. I could easily come into work ok-ish, only to then hit flashpoint very quickly with a few emails querying items, following up work, bombarding me with more things I needed to do.

The thing is, I actually didn't need to do them.

There is this thing called delegation - but more on that another time.

But what I have done to help me get my email under control and to feel so much better about it is this (and some of these items might help you too if your inbox is out of control!).

If you don't read it - unsubscribe from it.

How many lists are you on?

I subscribe to all manner of things, personal as well as business things. And over the years, especially the bad ones, I had over-subscribed to many things - email lists, social media, you name it, I thought I needed to KNOW. I didn't. I didn't even read them.

So I have spent the last 3 months unsubscribing from all things that do not add actual value to me. And I have been quite ruthless about this.

First I reviewed twitter.

Too many things just making me angry. I don't need that, so they were gone! Now my feed is a much better overview of what I actually like to see. It took awhile, but I just focussed on that one item.

Facebook - you may have read here before that I tidied up my facebook feed and removed everything that was all about getting me annoyed. I actively sought out happier pages so my feed is now full of happier news. I also removed things if I find I am not reading it or if they start to veer into angry territory for me. 

I removed trash from instagram that was just about selling stuff and just focus on items that make me feel good or inspire me to be better. #inspo actually can be more than nice shots of coffee cups if you look!

Linkedin - I removed myself from receiving emails from redundant groups I belonged to and removed myself from groups that I no longer needed to be a part of. Why I hadn't done it ages ago is a mystery to me - but it was just adding to my constant barrage of emails in my inbox.

So when I had done all of that, I then felt like I could spend time (and I mean time!) cleaning out my inbox clutter.

Delete, Delete, Delete

Delete, Delete, Delete

So feeling like one of those hoarders you see on late night TV, I decided to dive into my inbox and clear out the crap. The crap that had been weighing me down at work and preventing me from doing my job in a more effective way. No more being distracted like a magpie by shiny new stuff. 

So here are 4 things I did to get my email under control

1. Unsubscribed from email newsletter lists that I had subscribed to about million years ago and never read anything.

You can do it - DO IT NOW

2. Removed myself from internal emails that I have no business being included in anyway.

Yep - total control freak!

I have a great team - let them do what they do.

This was scary, but you know what? It is so liberating! I just couldn't bring myself to click on the UNSUBSCRIBE button. I can still track what I need to track, but I do that within our CRM system, as I should and planned, not adhoc panic mode driven by email. 

3. Set up a series of folders to filter incoming mail

What a great idea.

It took time, but rather than have everything come in a big rush into a the one area, I thought about and segmented where I wanted to file everything. And I made Google for Work do this for me. So yes it took time, but the results are magic.

I know organised people might think I am weird that I didn't do this sooner, but this was part of the problem. I just found it all so overwhelming, that I just couldn't bring myself to do this. 

4. Don't have it open on your desk all day long

OMG - are you serious? Yes I am

Set aside time that you will dedicate to emails. It is scary to close it down. And as ridiculous as it is to type that sentence, I understand what that means to some of you.

I find it very hard to do. I think I need to go to EmailsAnonymous...

Plan your email time. Slot it into your day, like other tasks. Focus on attending to all work as you intend and don't be a magpie and attracted to new shiny things. 

It just messes with our minds too much. 

What spring cleaning of your mind are you going to do? Let me know - decluttering is so liberating for the mind - DO IT!