Hi guys! Happy Wednesday. I can’t even tell you how much renovation work we’ve been doing around the house lately. My body is sore, and I’m in dire need of a massage and some sauna time. Though it’s beyond worth it with how much progress we’ve made. We were actually laying in bed last night looking through images of when Chris first bought the house in November — she was in rough shape. It was mind blowing to see how far we’ve come in just two months, and gratifying to say the least that we’ve done about 95% of the work ourselves. (a post on the before and after will make it’s way to the blog in due time — your jaw will literally hit the floor)
On to today’s post. This is something I’ve been wanting to talk about for quite some time, as I feel like I’ve finally mastered this part of my life. I blame it on being just a tad bit OCD ;) but it also comes with learning how to truly value and appreciate the notion that less really is, well… less. When you do less, you receive less. And while in some circumstances that’s a not so great thing (think: relationships) in other ways, it’s a total win. For example: when you’re shopping online and you opt in for every single offer, your email is now theirs. Not only will you receive spam mail from them a few times a week, but all of your other platforms will take wind of those “cookies” and paste them here, there, and over there like sprinkles on a cupcake. Tempting you and overwhelming your brain.
Do you really need that?
Yeah, me either.
I used the email example as a segway to how I finally, once and for all, gained control of my inbox and have continued to do so, consistently.
How To Declutter Your Inbox Once And For All
First thing’s first: If it doesn’t make you feel good, opt out.
I subscribe to two newsletters. That’s it. Only two. Simply for the fact that they come into my inbox just once a week, are about two paragraphs long and super easy to read, and they’re uplifting and genuine.
If it doesn’t light you on fire or make you want to be a better version of yourself — give yourself the permission to free your inbox of that clutter. Yep, even if that means it’s MY newsletter! No hard feelings, girl. (though I do hope I’m offering you all the feel good vibes each Tuesday :)
Unsubscribe from the online shops
Instead of going down the rabbit hole and locating them one by one, sign up for the greatest invention — unroll.me. I am SO grateful to this site for existing because they are the sole reason that I was able to tackle the decluttering process head on. It’s so easy and efficient, and once you do it once, you don’t ever have to do it again. (unless one of those sneaky companies find a way to reel you back in, which they wont, because you’ve got amazing, beautiful brain power)
sidetone: If you’re worried that you’ll miss out on your Nordstrom sale updates (but deep down you know you don’t really need to be seeing them) — opt out anyway. See how much you navigate their site on your own time without being told to do so. You might surprise yourself (and save some major pennies along the way)
Have two different email accounts (business and professional)
This is something I waited a tad too long to do — and finally I had this breaking point of I cannot keep having my personal emails merge with my professional emails any longer. So, I created a private email address that I sent out to my closest family and friends. It’s such a simple thing, but it has made such a major difference.
Create a filing system within your email platform
Personally, I use Gmail (and will until the day I die), and absolutely love their folders and labeling system. If you don’t use this, you are completely missing out on one of the best features for organization and mental clarity.
I encourage you to not overwhelm yourself by creating folders & labels and then going through all of your emails dating back to 2010 to sort them out. Instead, just start where you are. Create the folders that are most relevant to you. For me and The Calm Collective, they look a little something like this: Folder Title: The Blog > Labels within that folder: Collaborations > Sponsorships > Web Hosting > Graphic Design
So whenever I get a sponsored post pitch, it will go in the Blog Folder with the label “Sponsorships” — It really is THAT easy.
So what I encourage you to do is to just start with the last couple of days. Go through your emails and apply your labels, and get into the habit of giving each email a place to live. Maybe even leave yourself a loving reminder on a post-it and stick it on your laptop until you’re doing it out of habit.
Give your unread emails a place to land
If you’re someone who is really bad at reading emails, or reading them and leaving them as “unread” — lets work on changing this. Because even if you consider this to be “just the way you operate”, if you’re reading this blog it means there’s a slight chance that you want to better yourself and gain some control when it comes to living calmly and just a little bit simpler. This, my love, is the place to start.
Learn how to read your emails, respond accordingly, and leave them as read. Get that number to zero, and let that be something that happens easily, every day. You may not even know how much weight you carry just from having a piling bold number staring back at you. So let’s tackle this.
To make it easy, depending on who you’re using for email, apply a “show all unread emails first” option. In Gmail, this is under the little octagon-flower like symbol. From there, you’ll go to Settings > Inbox > Inbox Sections > Unread First
I usually have 10 showing up at a time, and this is merely so when I open my email every day, my first initial thought isn’t “oh my god, I have 20 emails.” Rather it’s: “…Looks like I have 10!” Only seeing a handful of unread emails keeps me centered, grounded and not the lest bit intimidated, rather than overwhelmed with the feeling of dread. (even if there’s more hiding after that initial 10). Do you see what I’m getting at? Trick yourself enough times and you will flawlessly be able to handle anything that comes at you with grace.
Get to work
Now the only part that will take more than 5 minutes is dealing with the mess that is your unread inbox, if you have a mess that is. This, girlfriend, is something I challenge you to sit with on your lunch break or on a quiet Saturday morning (now’s the time with winter still lingering) Light a candle, pour some vino and get to work. Delete them if they hold no value or warrant for a response. Quickly and efficiently tend to those that do, and come up with a game plan for how you’ll take yourself out of this habit and change your online communication once and for all.
Here are a few of ideas I’ve brainstormed for you:
Create a few email templates (these can also live in your Gmail Folders).
I have a slew of templates that I use when communicating with my photography clients so I’m not spending 30 minutes on each email. That’s not an efficient use of my time. Depending on the emails you’re sending day to day, this may be the best thing you do for yourself. Copy and paste away, my friend (but just remember to change the names and information accordingly)
Make time in your daily routine for tending to emails.
I block out 15 minutes each morning, after I’ve gotten my writing in, to focus solely on my emails. If I don’t do this, it just isn’t going to happen. I’m also not someone who checks emails throughout the day. I’ve quit the habit and I have zero intention of going back, so honoring this space and time to give attention to people waiting to hear back from me makes me feel a rush of accomplishment at the start of my day.
Delete and be done with what doesn’t need tending to.
Remember first and foremost that not all emails warrant a response. Unapologetically delete emails and move on. A good example of this is with this website. I’ll get a slew of emails each week from companies who are trying to sell me website coding and SEO help. Since I’ve learned to tell by the subject line what these emails look like – they get deleted instantly.
Make answering emails an enjoyable task.
As I mentioned above — light a candle, throw on some peaceful music and get cozy. Give yourself a reward if you need to by visiting your favorite blog or by taking yourself out for a coffee once you’ve finished.
It’s no secret that each of us spend a large amount of time online — some less than others, but email is a means of communication that isn’t going away any time soon. We’d be remised to ignore this platform when it comes to truly getting to the center of wanting to create a life revolved around slowing down, becoming more mindful and intentional with our time, and adding value to each and every thing we do throughout our days. While it may seem like a mundane task, I promise you — it will be 5 minutes well spent.
I can’t wait to hear how this transforms your day to day life. Because it will. x