Live Simply | Email Challenge

September 17, 2013…that’s approximately 104 days until the ball drops and we announce another year has passed and 2014 is here. I had planned to be writing this post when there were more like 178 days, or 6 months, left in the year. It was to be a mid-year check-in on my mantras for 2013, but I’m hoping a lot can still happen in 104 days – that’s over 14 weeks, 2,496 hours, or 4.9 new habits (if you agree that a new habit can form in 21 days). So in other words, plenty of time! From now until the new year I’m going to be revisiting the mantras and promises that I wrote to myself 9 months ago and I’m going to be brainstorming action items for each. But according to my “You can do anything but not everything” mantra, I’ll only do it if I want to!

Live Simply

I want to start with “Live Simply”. There is so much that I could do in my life to support this lofty goal, it’s hard to know where to start. When I was brainstorming ideas, I tried to think about which idea or area of my life is causing me stress or cluttering my mind with worry, because that is what I want to eliminate. I want to eliminate the extra mental energy I spend thinking about all the things I should be doing so I can get to a more simple life. Right now, that stressor is email, and my personal email account to be exact.

There are countless articles about email efficiencies like inbox zero or getting things done, but I am starting by breaking things down into simple (hence the mantra), actionable items that will allow me to see and feel progress. From there maybe I’ll implement a “maintenance” strategy from the pros, but for now here are my three action items.

LIVE SIMPLY, the email challenge:

  1. Unsubscribe – Do I really need to see all the promotions going on at every retailer I’ve ever spent money with? It takes time and energy to either read or delete those emails so why do I stay subscribed? Gmail has recently started consolidating all of my “promotion” emails into one nice, neat tab in my inbox, making it easier to see just how many emails I am receiving. Wow, it’s a lot. I am going to unsubscribe to anything that I haven’t read in the last 2 weeks or haven’t bought from in the last 2 months. I’m freeing my mind from looking at or thinking about unnecessary emails.
  2. Delete – I rarely reference old personal emails. Now work, well that’s another story, but personal emails need to go. I have 1,681 messages in my inbox and that number just plain overwhelms me. Not to mention that I am bad about responding to personal emails in a timely fashion, mostly because they get buried so quickly. I don’t do that at work, so why is it acceptable with my friends and family? I want to cut that inbox number down to 500 for starters and eventually I want to keep no more than 50 emails in my inbox.
  3. File/Archive – If I’m unsure of whether I’ll need to reference an email again in the future, the goal is just to get it out of the inbox. I’ll be filing and archiving any email that does not require some sort of response or action on my part. Then I guess I’ll have to set up time to review those files, but that’s for another day. The goal here is the inbox because that is what is what is making things complicated rather than simple.

Anyone else feel overwhelmed by their personal inbox? Or are you like me and great with your professional inbox but a slacker when it comes to personal emails? I’ll be posting my progress on twitter (@serenequeen) if you want to follow along. If you’re joining in this Live Simply challenge, share your progress and ideas using #livesimplyemail.

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