My inbox is getting me down. Down down down.
The amount of emails sitting there makes me uncomfortable. No, scratch that. It genuinely makes me feel annoyed and frustrated. Because anything that sits in my inbox screams TO DO and UNDONE. And yours truly likes boxes ticked, jobs done, lists cleared, and you guessed it, inboxes empty. Which means, as things stand, my inbox makes me feel like I am failing every time I look at it.
My right brain keeps telling me to take it easy on myself. I’ve just had a baby (does five months ago still count as “just”?). Life with three little children is full. It’s just an inbox, what’s the big deal? But the left brain administrator in me craves order and simplicity. And to me, simple means less. Having bought into the Marie Kondo decluttering revolution and starting to see the very real benefits in editing our belongings, I’m beginning to realise that virtual clutter is as unhelpful and unnecessary as it’s real life counterpart.
The reason my inbox has taken on a life of its own is that I genuinely love to read. Always have, always will. Blogs, books, ebooks. You name it and I want to pour through it, learn from it, and try what I’ve learned for myself. But I’m fast realising that there is a cost that comes with every “free” opt in. And while I think of it, every social media feed. And that cost is my time.
So I’ve been thinking – maybe as part of my ongoing drive to de-clutter our home I should be more ruthless with my online time.
Because if I’m honest, I spend quite a bit of time scrolling through Instagram, emails and blog posts and pinterest pins. And moments add up to minutes, minutes to hours, and hours into a whole heap of time that could potentially be better put to use elsewhere.
Like reading real books, writing, baking, unwinding (I’ve forgotten how?!) and continuing the labour of love that is turning our new house into a home. Not to mention being less distracted and more present around the people I love.
So I’m going to set myself a 6 week challenge – let’s call it Operation Less Information. And these are the six things I’ll be doing throughout the challenge:
- Edit my subscriptions list. Do the e-newsletters ‘spark joy’ (Kondo’s benchmark), or do they add to the feeling of overwhelm by reminding me of all the things I haven’t done yet? If the latter – unsubscribe. If the former – move on to step 2. I think part of me has been afraid to do this because on some level I don’t think I’m capable of looking after my home and family without all the helpful e-input I’ve grown accustomed to skim reading. Which is ridiculous, I’m aware, but it’s the truth. The information will still be out there if I need it. I just need to be brave, get unsubscribe happy, and take it from there.
- Delete, file, move on. I’ll be deleting stuff in my inbox that’s been sat there for more than a month that I’m unlikely to do anything with. And filing anything else that interests me but that requires anything more than two minutes of my time to read or complete in a “To Do” folder, for me to get back to later.
- Minimise technological distractions. Limit myself to checking social media and emails twice a day (mornings and evenings) to minimise distractions.
- Switch email off my phone. A logical progression from number 3, and something I do every few months to reset myself and get out of the habit of of checking emails on the go.
- Use paper wherever possible. I am already a big fan of bullet journalling and hand written lists, but still email myself to remind myself to do things sometimes if my bullet journal isn’t to hand, usually just before bedtime. Crazy right? I’ll be ditching that habit in favour of keeping my bujo handy always and jotting down thoughts on paper as they come, instead of adding to the inbox madness.
- Read real books. Somehow reading on a screen doesn’t quite do it for me. The old school in me prefers to leaf through hard copies, get lost in real pages, to scribble and underline, to fold over and come back. So as a treat to myself for doing all of the above, I am going to reinvest the time I claw back from online reading into reading real books. Specifically, I’m going to aim to read one book a week for six weeks. I’ve identified two piles of books that I am keen to tuck into – one of the unexpected bonuses of decluttering our book collection and working out what to keep and pass on. It’s just a matter of picking six and going for it.
So there you have it. My first ever self imposed challenge. I’ll keep you posted on how I get on.
In the meantime, do let me know if you have any tips on how to manage the time you spend online and managing your inbox using the comments box below. I’d love to hear from you!
If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:
- Lessons learned from a failed virtual declutter
- Have kids must declutter. 9 lessons learned from Marie Kondo