Ah Project Clean Sink…. This has been sitting on my whiteboard for a few months now. Here’s the scoop. I wear several hats (don’t we all?) and several of those hats have an email account or list attached to them. Each one has its own bunch of email groups, newsletter signups, account notifications, etc. that accumulate quickly and fill up my inbox. There are a number of reasons why this built up… I had one account forwarding to my main account… I filed one and the other backed up with the duplicate… I switched to gmail and wasn’t familiar with the tagging system vs. my familiar Outlook folders… It has been an incredibly full year… blah blah blah blah blah… Bottom line is this (and it is challenging to write this in public):
I have 15,875 email messages in my inbox and 6,575 unread messages. No kidding. Beautiful divisibles of five at this very second.
Whew. I said that and lived. My friend and talented writer, Jen Arbo, has something like 9 whole messages in her inbox. And that is on a busy day… I can’t even imagine what that is like.
I did take a stab at deleting a bunch of them this spring and called it Project Clean Sink. There is a great website about cleaning your house by Flylady. The premise is that you start with a sparkly clean sink and make sure that each evening, you clean your sink out. There is something about starting the day with a clean sink that just makes me smile. So I thought the same principle would apply to my inbox. I spent some time cleaning out my inbox, marking unsolicited mail spam, removing myself from newsletters that I never read, moving my social/art related newsletters to a different place so that work related stuff didn’t get lost. I also cancelled the loop of forwarding emails between accounts that created unnecessary duplication. O. And stopped Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter notifications for things that my phone notified me of anyhow… done. Believe it or not, I probably reduced my inbox at that time by about 2500 messages.
It has been a very full summer and now it is time to address the rest of the inbox. One of the reasons that I didn’t complete my spring project was that I had very black and white terms: either my inbox was clean or not clean. This time, I am giving myself until the end of the year to have this finished. I am allocating one hour per work day for the month of December to work on this. On average that means cleaning up 550 messages per day.
So here is my plan.
- Tap into what it is about a clean email box that is important to me (being able to clearly see what needs to be done, make sure important emails don’t get buried, help me be timely with my responses, let go of clutter in this area)
- Clutter… get clear on what is it that keeps me holding on to the email (fear of deleting something that I might need later – really? I am not dealing in life or death here)
- Have accountability on what I want to get done with this and by when (uh huh. It isn’t good enough to think about a Clean Sink. You have to do some scrubbing. Publishing this is a huge accountability. And I will ask the above said Jen to hold me accountable. We are overdue for a tea and chat fest so that will be a good deadline.
- Visualize – well, part of the visual for me is that I have a new laptop from my amazing husband, Glen Murray. He wanted me to have a new tool for my business as well as part of our grand migration back to Mac. I want my email to be cleaned up so that my laptop is running clean and sleek. I also have moved my business to be paperless so cleaning up the inbox is a virtual extension of that.
- Celebrate – What will I do to acknowledge the hard work that goes into creating a clean inbox? My tea with Jen will be part of it. And moving to my new computer will be another one. Hmmm.. to close the door to the full inbox, I will also be getting rid of my old computer. Buh bye.
I say yes to:
- being in control of my inbox
I say no to:
- Being passive about my inbox
What is the Project Clean Sink that you want to tackle? Want to join me in busting through a project?