I feel like a theme for 2019 for many people is declutter. So many of the people I follow on YouTube and social media are doing it, and promoting it.

So I started at the digital end - clearing the clutter of my email inbox.

Due to the transient nature of my work, I have 4 inboxes – which is not a lot from what I see of other people – to maintain, and I don't believe I had seen any of them at zero this past year. Old emails from completed projects, junk mail, subscriptions and even emails I chose to ignore (ashamedly) had all been clogging up my inbox.

If you subscribe to David Allen's approach to Getting Things Done, then a non-empty inbox represents incomplete work just sitting there waiting to be completed. I know that many of the emails in my work, business and personal inboxes had already been responded to, actioned or served its purpose, so why was I holding onto them? That is what I would call the equivalent of digital hoarding, a habit I want to break for the New Year.

So let's start now.

A couple of rules to keep us on track -

  • Nothing is to be stored in you inbox
  • And, when it comes to subscriptions - Don't just delete, Unsubscribe

Although many people use it to the contrary, in my mind, email is not for information recall. It is a communications medium and just like you wouldn't store your files in your post box, nor should you be storing your important files, reference documents, receipts etc. in your email inbox. Now most people handle this by filing those emails into labels or folders, but I'm going one step further and utilising Evernote – one of my digital tools of choice – to store any information from emails that I wish to store. And when it comes to any newsletters, service emails and updates, if the information is of little value or no use to me, before I delete, I'm also going to hit the unsubscribe button, to eliminate the clutter completely.