Sunday, October 25, 2015

Email Inbox Organization--Three Steps

This is a follow up to my previous post e-hoarding

I’m nervous today. I cleaned out my email over the past week. I worry because I might have deleted something I needed.  But it had to be done. My inbox looked worse than my dining room table.

What I started with:                        
1500 unread emails. Almost 5000 kept emails. 22 folders. Chaos.
I Googled organizing email and found I’m not alone in being overwhelmed by digital stuff. I found over a million sites about this. I picked a few—referenced at the bottom. Most of mine has come from friends’ ideas.

My Three Part System
Part One: Clean It Out
If you don’t do this first you’ll be trying to organize things you don’t even need or want. I don’t know how long you should keep something, but I’m sure it’s not ten years on the internet. Even the IRS isn’t that strict.
I’m down to about 150 kept emails. It still sounds like a lot. There were some emails I’ve reread and referenced so I kept those. Most are from ongoing projects that will be deleted once the project is finished. The time frame to allow to do this depends on how much time you have and how many emails. Like I said, mine took a week.
Part Two: Make a System
I thought about the subjects of things I do and made folders to correspond. Then the move from inbox to the folders began.  I ended up with 6 folders and one with 4 subfolders—9 folders total. It works because of the various emails I have to save.
Voila! Empty inbox and emails where I can find them.
Part Three: Maintenance and Modification
I hate checking email. I also read that if you check it too much you get more back. Most sites said twice, maybe three times a day. So, I’m starting with twice.

Of course this system may need tweaking, so I’ll modify as I go.  But now it’s doable.
Your system and checking will look different, of course. You may have to check more often due to work. Or less often if you're lucky.

What I Have Now
Empty inbox. About 150 saved mails. 6 folders and 4 subfolders. Organized Mail.
Of course I still have the concern over deleting things. But I like my organized email, so I’ll just have to get over the other.
My system is simple, but I don’t do a whole lot of work with email. It’s more for contact and connection. So, if you’d like more in-depth and information on all the other things available check out:
Organizing Your Email Inbox
13 Tips to Organizing Your Inbox 
Revive Your Inbox  --this one is the most in-depth, and has a program to help you. But, the irony is, they email it to you every day for 21 days.
You can always Google search it as well.

How about you? Do you get frustrated with too many emails? Any organizing tips or strategies that worked for you?

Sunday, September 20, 2015


apparently after 999 they
they stop counting
In the middle of all my research I've found a new type of hoarding.
Digital Hoarding, aka e-hoarding.
It's when your inbox, folders, pictures, or whatever digital media you can think of becomes as cluttered as the junk drawer in your kitchen, or worse.
I hate email because you get so much junk mail. Spam filters aren't perfect, no matter how good they are. And, all the social media? Good grief, it's giving me a headache thinking about it.

So, what's the deal with digital hoarding? Why should people worry about it?
From what I've read:
1. storage costs--personal and private. Someone has to pay for all these Clouds.
2. stress--having to look at and deal with all the stuff.
3. carbon footprint--who knew, right?

Hoarding is often a sign of other problems: anxiety and OCD especially.
For me it's an out of sight out of mind. My physical surroundings are in my face. I can stress over it. My email, digital files and pictures, they all live on tiny flash drives and clouds. So, I only have to stress for as long as it takes to read and reply to what I need.

But after reading the carbon footprint thing, I'm going to have to rethink this strategy. It makes sense, though, because technology has to be powered. It takes energy for this. And, storage plans for individuals and companies are not free. It takes effort to keep all this information safe and accessible.
I've gotten the wild idea to clean out inboxes and photos before, but I got frustrated sorting through so much. No sooner had I gotten rid  of one email when ten would pop up.
I gave up
And it all built up again. The most I've had is close to 5,000 emails. Sounded like a lot to me until I read of people having numbers like 25,000 in emails, ten of thousands of pictures. Wow!
Right now my big things are texts, pictures, and emails. I'm bad about not deleting any old things.
Maybe I'll have to consult an e-hoarder specialist.

So, my plan, should I be able to accomplish this is:
1. Daily look at email.
2. Figure out folders.
3. Delete any pictures I don't need.
4. Spend ten minutes at day doing this.
5. Don't get discouraged.

As adults, we worry about kids, but we should really take a lesson from the American Academy of Pediatrics  --adults need limited time as well, for our own health and well-being. We have to get over this idea that we have to be connected 24/7. Some think they're doing okay. Some look okay.
But, try turning off their devices, let the server go down, let rain knock out the DISH.
Then see what happens.

Are you a digital hoarder? What strategies do you have to organize your email, ebooks, and other digital media?

For more on e-hoarding:
Wikipedia--also has some good links to other sites.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Change Lessons from Hoarders

finished my stone walkway
In my last post I mentioned two favorite organizing people. The first is Donna Smallin Kuper.
Who's the other person? Matt Paxton
Hoarders anyone? It was the freakiest, coolest show. Aired on A&E, it chronicled the attempt to help hoarders when they were against the wall due to whatever—landlords, city ordinances, health, whoever. And the weird thing is, they weren’t all crazy cat people—though many had a few hundred cats. They were just people. Most were people who had bad stuff happen to trigger the hoarding.
Matt (and others) cleaned out their houses but the crew also helped sort their lives as well. They cleaned but the hoarder had to make the decision to let things go. It was the only way to break the cycle. 
I like Matt because he’s real. He knows what needing help is all about. He’s a good cleaner, but he's also got his own interesting story of addiction. As he alludes to, all he’s done is trade one addiction for another, but at least this one doesn't get his kneecaps broken intentionally.
Another sad lesson from this is many of the people who hoard have others in their lives—family and friends who suspected but didn’t jump in. Oh, that’s not an indictment. It’s just a comment. I always wondered “how did they let it get that far?”

So, what’s this all about?
I find it ironic that Matt’s who I wanted to post about on Wednesday and now I find myself on Sunday evening still trying to get this posted. I'm so far behind!
It’s about perseverance and fortitude to make the changes you want. It doesn’t matter how far you’ve gotten into the rut.  You can do it!
Change means sacrifice and letting go. On the show some people just couldn’t do it.  But some were able to change their homes and their lives.
So, even though I’m late, I’m still going to hang in there.  I’m still posting this.

Lessons from Matt and Hoarders
(don’t try to Google them—I’m making them up)
 1. Don't forget your friends and family--especially those who live alone.
 2. Be patient with yourself. Nobody's perfect and on time every time.
 3. We all need a little help from our friends sometimes.
 4. But sometimes we will be alone, no matter who we call.

cleaned out my truck--
does anybody know this pony?
5. In the end the decisions are ours alone.
 6. There are ordinances on the number of cats you can have.
 7. Nobody allows coyotes to be kept. (well, that was my discovery)

Lasting change takes time.
The two questions we have to ask ourselves:
1. Do I want to change?
2. What am I willing to let go of for it?

p.s.--my house is not a hoarder house, but Clean Sweep would have fun in it.