Recently, as part of my new year’s goals, I have been slowly undigging. But it’s probably not what you think. It’s not from a timely winter storm that gave me an extra day off from dressing in real clothes instead of yoga pants - … it is from my own inbox. (Actually, several inboxes.) I had a serious enews hoarding issue over the past couple of years and my unread messages alone was towering into the mid-2,000’s at one point. I know, pretty sick. And that was just the unread. Imagine a sty of a house covered in Ann Taylor Loft sales, Bath & Body Works Buy 3 Get 1 Free coupons and endless lifestyle tips on How to Be More Organized sitting around on the floor, unused - except it’s not a house at all, it’s my daily inbox, which was an IV of stress every single time I logged in. And through alerts on my mobile. It was constantly reminding me that I had some sorting to do.
Apparently, there is a name for this: e-hoarding. Yes, America… I am an e-hoarder.
As with any hoarder, I had to take some real concrete steps to get out of this mess. I have been resolving to do this for the past 3 to 4 calendar years. But I feel like this year, real action is occurring. In just a couple weeks, I have already dwindled a 2k+ unread count down to the 1300’s. This sounds silly, I know. And why can’t I just hit delete all? Well, why can’t a hoarder just throw all that crap out? Exactly. So, in the event that you ,too, are an e-hoarder, here are some helpful tips that are helping me in my journey to being less crazy.
I know this sounds really simple but it’s not. It took me this long to do it. What if I miss a sweet sale? What if I’m not the first person to know about Verizon’s latest Android phone? What if, one day, I want to click on that expired deal to Aspen? You know, just to see what the resort was called because it was SO picturesque in the pictures? Well, I won’t and if it’s that important, I would. So I hit unsubscribe - a lot - and I’m still doing it. I’ve also coincidentally seen my American Express monthly charges go down. Huh. Anyway, I’m sure they’re unrelated. If you are too scared to take this first simple step, please remember that many digital marketing companies have caught on to the sick way us e-hoarders think and now have an option to receive no more than X number of emails per month/week/day. I am not going to lie and say I didn’t select this option when it was available in a state of desperation. I mean, you never know.
- Mass delete.
Okay, so some mass deleting will be required, it’s true. Start with old stuff - expired things. It’s not going to do you any good anyway. Plus, you get this real high off seeing that unread count go down. You can only accomplish this high via mass deletion, so try it and replace your hoarding anxiety with deletion adrenaline. Yes, my advice is to replace one vice with another. People do it all the time. You’ll be turning those “… but I might need this one day. And I should mark it unread to remind myself to read it…” into “I am way too important to keep this POS in my inbox.” in no time!
- Do not ever email yourself notes.
Just don’t do it. They will get lost in the abyss! Only do this if you are truly desperate. I now utilize other means and I have several apps that keep me from falling into this trap. I will outline them in another bullet because they are that important to me. Anyway, just stop emailing yourself. Only crazy people do that.
- Behold, the power of gmail.
Gmail has awesome stuff like labels. Archiving. Stars. Priority levels. Automatic filtering. Split inboxes. Priority filters. I actually think I just turned on the geek in me. Google is basically freaking awesome and has already solved all of your problems before you even realized you had them. What’s that? It’s too much work to set up all of that stuff? Well, it’s a hell of a lot of work to feel stressed out by your inbox and go through a cycle of e-binging when you can take it anymore. Or to try to keep up with it manually, which is what I’ve attempted a hundred times. Let Google seduce you with their sexy labels and Lab add-ons. You will not be sorry.
- App, App, App-It-Up!
Now stop. And wiggle with it. Sorry, I had to. As I was saying, apps have really helped me. Here is a list of my favorites, which I will say HAVE actually attributed to me accomplishing things. Just remember: these are tools, not cure-alls. You still have to have some drive from within.
I use the heck out of Evernote. I know there are many comparable note style apps and they are all probably great, too. But I’m too lazy to think about switching and I do like EN because of all the little extra tools. You can set up notebooks and subnotebooks, so it’s perfect for little weirdos like me that ends up with a thousand notepad files all over her desktop – seriously, though, is this not the worst Windows program ever? It’s a trap because it doesn’t even auto-save, so all its caused me is heartache.
o Read It Later
I am one of those people who gets seduced into reading everything ever marketed to someone like me. I just have so many interests! And on top of unknowingly being an e-hoarder, I am also a tab fiend. I have had minor meltdowns over losing my tabs. I actually stopped using Firefox on my work computer because I had too many saved tabs that I could not bring myself to deal with. RIL (not to be confused with IRL…) is awesome because it lets you click a button and queue articles, web-pages, etc. It also has an app, which is the best thing ever because I often find at least 2,577 things of interest in my twitter feeds when I’m waiting at the doctor’s office or bank.
o Do It Tomorrow
For my general everyday to-do list, I use Do It Tomorrow. It’s really simple. It’s a calendar/moleskine looking format (for that hipster in you) that lets you either cross things off or move them to tomorrow. Then, when the next day hits, it automatically carries over everything not moved or checked off. It’s simple and to the point and it satisfies my inner hipster through it’s sweet aesthetic.
o Word With Friends
Because I need both a break and reward for all this organizing.
So there you have it. I am really trying and soon this may even bleed over into my not-so-secret magazine hoarding. Baby steps!