I talk frequently about clutter — having clutter, being tired of clutter, getting rid of clutter. As I look around, my clutter consists largely of piles of unshelved books, overflowing piles of papers, my children’s outgrown clothes that I need to store or donate, and (the ultimate irony) magazines and printed articles full of strategies to conquer clutter.
These kinds of clutter are always present, daily being shuffled from one place to another.
But the clutter that I often forget about is my digital clutter. The unfiled documents on my desktop. My email inbox full of everything from retail announcements, personal emails, read but unfiled emails, volunteer emails, (way too many) unedited digital photographs and videos.
I’ve tried the large pronouncements — by the end of x amount of time, I will have all my photos organized. I’ll go through all the emails in my inbox and do something with them. To no avail.
So last week I decided to stop trying to tackle the problem all at once. Instead, I decided to handle the clutter in small bits, piece by piece, one day at a time.
One area that I’ve focused on is the retail emails. I’d tried to start another email account that would only be for personal emails. But then my friends and family didn’t change my address in their address books, so that didn’t work. Then I started to forget passwords for retail accounts. So I set up replica ones using the new email. Now I was getting, for instance, two notices from amazon about discounts and special offers — and in multiple email accounts.
Now, I know, pointing and clicking to delete an email is not really a big deal in the grand scheme of things. But, all that pointing and clicking adds up — seconds into minutes, minutes into…well, you get the idea.
So, now, every day, I unsubscribe to one retail email. No more Target. Bye-bye Banana Republic. Adios Diapers.com. If I need something from those stores, I’ll check in for sales. I’m not really a quick pull the trigger kind of shopper anyway. So getting the notices about coupons and larger sales don’t prompt me to act in the moment. Instead, they just sit in my inbox as a reminder to myself that I often waste too much time making a decision about a purchase. And then the coupon expires or the sale ends. Then I’m left collecting seconds into deleting clicks.
Perhaps by the time my birthday comes around, my retail unsubscribing will be complete and I’ll be able to take all the time I’ve recovered from mindlessly deleting these emails to the gym.
How do you deal with digital clutter? What strategies have you used to save what you’re left with once all the clutter is gone?