Are you carrying around a weight every day? Maybe you do and just don’t know it. You can see by advertisements that athletic shoe companies are creating and promoting lighter and lighter sneakers each year. What they have created seems cool and remarkable, and people are responding! Customers love sneakers that weigh less and less. Why? More comfort, and they believe they can run faster because of them. Companies are giving people what they want.
If we care about weight so much with our shoes, why don’t we look at our lives? Do you realize that you carry around the baggage of stress with you every day? Even walking into your messy office and seeing piles on your desk can create an invisible weight. How much do the invisible weights in your life weigh? More than you and I care to consider. Do you have financial weight, debt that you carry around in your life? How much does that weigh on you? Admit it or not, this affects all areas of your life.
One thing I’ve learned from experience is that if you clean up or release the weights in one area of your life, it will lead to cleaning up others. What is one small area you can start with? Whether we like it or not, stress is a weight. Although, visual clutter is easier to see, what about the less visible weight?
One area that I did not realize was affecting me was email, both read and unread. What number of read and unread emails is acceptable to you? For me it was about 200. I would notice that I got more stressed whenever I saw 300 emails every time I opened my email program. I struggled every day just to get back to that acceptable level. Well, today is the day. Enough is enough.
I challenge you to do this with me. I started playing with this last week and worked hard all week to get back to 200 emails. I made a pact with myself to get all the new emails taken care of each day and then handle a few more each day. The cool thing is that this is an easy number to track. Even if you have 1,000 emails to get through and you delete at least an extra 25 each day, you will feel it. If you are like me, you often kid yourself into thinking that one day you will sit down and go through all of them! LOL. Funny, but when you see progress, you feel better; and you gain momentum. This means that you are taking off some of that invisible weight.
Less weight, less stress, more progress. Who else is up for this challenge? Have you had enough? Ready to get to zero? Before you and I can get to zero, our first step is commitment. Starting today, I will post on my FB account a pic of my progress or lack thereof. Maybe we can encourage each other and create momentum. Are you with me? Please comment on my blog and FB posts, and let me know where you are and how you are doing. Inspire me!
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Unsubscribing from lists, newsletters, and promotions is key for me to manage email stress. If I have over 20 unread emails it starts to bother me. Sometimes I get 20+ over a day or two of junk from lists I signed up for at one point or another. Just getting the email is enough to derail me when trying to accomplish another task (especially a difficult one where I’m happy for a distraction). My rule of thumb has become if 80% of the time I am not reading or taking action based on an email from a particular list or sender, then it’s gone. I just unsubscribed from 4 or 5 lists yesterday and am already feeling better.
Don’t worry Darren, I get plenty of value from your letters so you won’t be leaving my inbox anytime soon. Thanks!
Dear Darren, I just looked for the sentence to clic on it to sto receaving your mails and then I read this mail! For several months I am cutting of of my life club-life and occupations that are filling my life. Objects I bought long time ago and never use them, books I read once or several times and even existing in several languages I am the only one who reads them in my house, knives, cups, dishes, shoes – and I started cleaning up my computer, my e-mails I never trew away since 2009. I feel breathing again easily!
In the French news-paper “Elle”, I read an article that said: the e-mails you receaved and wrote but not destroyed are stocked together in Datacenters they have to fresh all days and nights round in very big computers. If every French would throw away 50 mails, that would be the same as if our Eiffel-tower had no longer electric light for 42 years! As if the French town Nantes was without electricity for 2 days!
I have been working on house clutter for almost 2 years. After the kids all left home, we took care of aging parents. Other people in the house certainly adds to the clutter! When I got through the grief of losing the last parent, I started on the piles. The first round was to rid the house of all visible busy-ness. With that finished, I went through drawers, cabinets, and closets. Anything we haven’t used in a year or more goes to the thrift store if it’s usable; trash or recycle if it’s not. The end is in sight! I have two more file drawers, and a one- day cleanup of the storage shed. Then this major cleaning and reorganizing will change to maintenance. Woohoo!
Darren – I got my inbox down to 5 (and 3 of those are reminders for next week). I get 20 – 40 messages a day – read, file or delete at set time each day.. Much easier than wading through 100’s!
Found myself tackling this very issue recently: again : (
I recently reread “How Google Works” by Eric Schmidt and found the section on email to be very good. So good that I put this in my Apple Notes
How Google Works: location 2477
1. Respond quickly.
2. When writing an email, every word matters, and useless prose doesn’t.
3. Clean out my inbox constantly.
4. Handle email LIFO (Last In First Out).
5. Remember, I am a router.
6. If using bcc, ask myself, WHY?
7. Don’t yell.
8. Make it easy to follow up on requests.
9. Help my future self search for stuff.
My pre email ritual is to read these notes. It has made a difference.
e-mail processing is a tricky question. sometimes, people are using it as a chat tool, overspamming others’ inboxes and expecting immediate reaction.
what I found very practical is to not fight with the volume but rather to automatically prioritize it.
the hints below relate to Outlook, yet, the curious can try to replicate them in other mail clients:
1) for each instance of irrelevant communication create the rule “Send to Trash” => 20% of inflow is the geniue corporate spam;
2) create search filter where you are in TO and treat it as your real inbox: if people truly want something, they put you in TO;
3) create search filter where you in CC: revert to this from time-to-time, when you have time;
4) the rest of messages is where you are neither in TO nor in CC, it means you are in some e-mail distribution list: assess such communications, probably it is spam;
5) follow the rule to read any e-mail only once:
– informative e-mails: read & archive the e-mail
– quick action e-mails: read & reply or delegate, and archive the e-mail
– long action e-mails: read, transform into task, schedule the task, and archive the e-mail
hopefully, these hints contribute to overall discussion 🙂
OMG, you must have visualized my office! And it does produce stress! My New Year’s resolution is to clean out one drawer a week. Hah!
Darren, you have a great mind!
Good challenge, Darren. I have a lower tolerance level – my cutoff is 50 emails. I had to Unsubscribe to several just to bring the figure down.
Love the article- will pass it on to my husband. He needs to reduce & declutter.
Hi, Darren! Thanks for the nudge. Culling my inbox has been on my list for a while and I kept putting it off. Had over 500 items. Now I’m at zero, thanks to an energy surge earlier this evening. The last email I filed away in a personal folder was yours!
One thing that has helped me let go of emails is that I am now making better use of my CRM. I no longer need to hold onto an email to see if someone replies to it–instead, I set a task in the CRM, “Did so-and-so answer that last email?” It keeps track for me. One less thing to worry about!