Once upon a Time...
I log in to check my emails. I see 835 of them, unread of course; 750 of which I know I will probably never be read. I become overwhelmed and log right the hell back out, running away from the game of 'find the needle in the haystack.' (Also known as, find the emails you need to read, should read, have to read, amidst the masses) Thanks to overwhelm, I never get to those messages and secretly wish everyone would just leave me the hell alone.
I've had to suit up for battle against a few things that were constantly threatening to take over my life on many occasions--piles of laundry, images and documents saved on my hard drive, papers and papers and more papers brought home from school. It's not like it's exactly difficult to get overrun by details now-a-days; but the crap-shoot part is that the details add up and become one giant blob of chaos whose direct translation is: Congratulations! This is your frenetic life!
For anyone who feels constantly surrounded by clutter, on and offline, the stress can become unbearable. For anyone thinking of starting a home based business, the mere idea can be debilitating when you think of just how chaotic everything already feels and how much of your attention everything else requires just as it is. Running a business from home requires organization and structured schedules. Unfortunately, I'm not a naturally organized person and I detest inflexible schedules.
Instead, I've had to implement systems that are quick and easy to use for the everyday mundane stuff so that it stays outta my way and off my mind! I'm quick thinking and creative by nature, but along with that trait comes disarray and disorganization. I have a tendency to be messy and flighty. I thought that every once in a while I'd share little tid-bits as to how I set myself up to operate in an organized and structured way without feeling bound by a suffocating routine. (Also The Oatmeal's My Email is a Monster post inspired me to write about this right after I got up off the ground from ROTFL)
I'm a strategist; strategies are what I do best.
I started my life's clean up process with my email inbox!
Taking back the reigning power over your inbox is more freeing than you would think.
Sounds stupid, but it's true!
I pulled my hair out on many occasions trying to figure this out, so now, you don't have to!
I've managed to break it down into a few easy, but more importantly, pragmatic & time efficient steps.
ADMIT YOU HAVE A PROBLEM
"Hi. My name is Jen and I'm an email sign-up listaholic."
I habitually signed up to too many mailing lists,which was why I had repeatedly gotten myself into this predicament.
THE QUICK PURGE
Once upon a time...
I signed up to receive my daily horoscope. As it turned out, that's exactly what I received.
Plus promotional emails.
Life Path Horoscope- Love Horoscope-Career Horoscope-
Money Horoscope-Relationship Horoscope. And in case you don't have enough horoscopes, how'd you like to buy some more horoscopes?!
6 separate emails, and then some...
I got bombarded daily by some folks in particular. Because of that, I knew who they were from memory and you probably know yours as well.
Use this to your advantage.
Type that sender's name into your email search bar. Everything in your inbox from that sender will show up. Check mark all of them & send them to the trash. Immediately.
Do this for every sender you can quickly think of off the top of your head.
I assure you this will save time in the clean up process since it saves you from having to scan through each sender while they're all mixed together. It should in all probability cut your inbox emails down by 25% right off the bat in under 5 minutes.
BooYah! You win!
Once that's done, go to your inbox.
For time management purposes, find your way to the page with the oldest emails you've received. You're working your way from the oldest to your most recent.
If your inbox was as bad as mine, instead of checking off the emails you wish to delete one by one, you'll want click the checkmark all box first and then uncheck the ones you'd like to keep....for now.
You're not opening any emails yet; you're simply going by judgement based on the sender and the subject. Trust your gut. If it looks like it needs attention of some kind, if you suspect it's important, if it peeks your interest, or if you're sure it requires action on your part, uncheck it.
Send the remaining checked emails to the trash.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat on every page until all you're left with is what you felt requires your attention. This took me less than 10 minutes.
If you are making rapid decisions, you won't be left with a whole lot. By this point I was down from 835 emails to perhaps, 80 of them.
USE YOUR R.A.F.T
Create 3 new Labels (Files) for your menu that will show up under the "Inbox, Starred, Important, Sent & Drafts." tabs.
Open each remaining email and make a quick decision:
Does this require Reading?
Does this require Action?
Does this need to be kept & Filed?
Does this go straight to the Trash?
Send each one off to it's designated location.
At this point you should have nothing left in your inbox.
(Side Note: This is the system I use everyday. I give myself a scheduled time slot to read, respond or act upon what comes in throughout the day. I will check my emails multiple times a day, and if a message doesn't require my immediate attention, I put them into the appropriate files as "unread" until it's 'email time'. That's right! You've gotta show it who's boss!)
FACE THE MUSIC
It's time to read all the things & do all the things!
Go into your Read & Act Files.
Proceed to Read & Act.
Once they're read... in the garbage.
Once you've taken action...in the garbage.
If there are messages that will be ongoing, you can star or flag them. Otherwise, you can also create a new file labeled "Pending." It's a good place to nest messages that are now requiring someone else to act upon.
TAKE OUT THE TRASH
Delete your spam box and then click the "Empty Trashcan" button.
5.5 Seconds later, your entire email is totally clean!
Do you feel clearer?
Keeping it clean is a whole other ball game.
THE BREAK UP
"IT'S NOT YOU... IT'S ME"
For the next few days, as the emails pour in, commit to becoming an unsubscribing fiend.
Daily minimum: 5 unsubscriptions. (I did about 10 a day)
When to Unsubscribe:
• If you can't remember why you signed up for their emails.
• If you have no idea who they are.
• If you know that you never open a certain sender's emails.
• When following them on social media & other platforms will suffice.
• When you do not need to know that Pinterest thinks they've found pins you'll like, since you have a pinning problem as well.
• If some company, person or brand drowns you in daily emails.
• When you're on social media often enough that you don't require email notifications letting you know that you have social media notifications (This is a matter of adjusting your settings directly from your social media profiles, rather than unsubscribing, but it was worth the mention)
By law, a sender must have an unsubscribe option. 90% of the time, it takes 2 seconds although I have come across some that like to make the process exceptionally complicated. *grinds teeth* (This typically fuels my desire to unsubscribe even more.)
Saying no to email opt-ins isn't anything personal to the sender. Now-a-days, there is so much fantastic information and so many fascinating people out there; most of us want to make sure we're staying on top of it all. Unfortunately, we often find ourselves buried under it all instead of on top of it all.
Next Step is key...
STOP SUBSCRIBING TO JUST ANYTHING!
One must have subscription standards.
Here are mine:
• They have to be interesting enough in email for me to want to open
• They are passionate people who really resonate with me
• They offer freebies and mind blowing discounts on a regular basis
• They're fun
•They stand out
•They're emails are unique
• They don't bombard my inbox
• I can't overdose on them
I've been subscribed to Crystal Andrus & The SWAT Institute for about 4 years now. (I'm now a student with this school) Still, this sender gets 2 thumbs up for being kind to my inbox! (Plus they offer interesting & free teleseminars on a regular basis with some pretty stellar guests. Not to mention she does gift giveaways at the end of each call. Next call coming up is called "Humbled to Healed" with Crystal Andrus & Sonia Choquette on December 16th.)
I've also been subscribed to Danielle Laporte's #TruthBombs for just as long. I must admit, they're by far my favorite daily emails. It's like a little daily post it note! Short, simple, straight to the point and they literally makes me smile!
Another one of my favorites is Robin Sharma. Getting one of his emails feels like Christmas morning;they really are far and few between. There's just something about this man's genius, and truth be told I have somewhat of an internet crush on him.
Those are the senders I could never bring myself to break up with.
So with that said, whose emails would you never part with?