Clutter doesn't have to be physical. It can be in the form of electrons. I'm talking about computer-related clutter: filled Inboxes, too many desktop icons, too many unnecessary files, etc. It's good to go through these once in a while. Last August marked 15 years since I got my first email account. I have a lot of old stuff saved, but a lot of newer stuff not saved at all. And these days with unlimited quota on most accounts, I'm no longer forced to clean up my Inbox from time to time. Which can be a bad thing.
Taking a look at my main email's Inbox, I notice I had over 1800 emails. And that's just in the Inbox! I figured I'd comb through to see if I could delete at least 25% of it.
To speed things up, I wanted to go after the stuff that I figured I could delete right away without much hesitation. First I went straight to the oldest emails first. I found a funny article. Old, but still funny. And the link still worked after 3 years. Also old Craigslist ads I copied and sent to myself. Well needless to say, these ads aren't active anymore. I deleted a few other things, but this wasn't getting me far. This is probably because if I've been holding on to emails for over 3 years, chances are they were hard to let go of in the first place.
So I tried searching for other things, like unread emails, and sorting by name or subject. Sorts like these usually give you a bunch of emails you can delete immediately, because often the emails you get from frequent mailers (Amazon.com, mailing lists, etc.) pile up and all have the same subject line or "From" name. Here's a summary of what I deleted:
- 10 Really old automatic announcements from job recruiters. Boy do I miss the 2008 economy.
- 50 old newsletters or ticket statuses from concert venues or Ticket Master. With just about any venue, you buy tickets from them once and you're forever on their mailing list. Yet you don't want to unsubscribe because you do like the place and come back. Still, the unwanted stuff piles up.
- 98 emails from other newsletters and other announcement lists. These include everything from friend's bands, comedians, bars, restaurants, etc. Some of these I've already unsubscribed to.
- 10 pieces of spam. That's surprisingly not very much. I guess I have my spam filters to thank.
- 47 other random emails. Utility bill receipts, Apple.com stuff, those annoying Evite invitations from friends, the struggle with re-registering and maintaining all of my domain names, and plenty more.
- I also moved a total of 235 emails to different folders where they belong. Yes, I know this doesn't really cut down on the number of saved emails I have. It just hides them in a new place. Still, my goal tonight was to get rid of a quarter of what's in the Inbox, so I accomplished that.
I still have over 1,000 emails in my Inbox. But I at least got rid of 25% like I intended to. I'm sure I can do more if I give myself another time to sit down and do it.
How about you? Do you have over 1,000 emails sitting around? Maybe on a web-based email account, where if by some chance you lost that account, you'd lose a LOT of important information saved over the years? If you say, "That's nothing. I have over 8,000 emails in my Inbox!" then that's nothing to brag about. Do something about it! Set a reasonable initial percentage goal. See what easy stuff you can get rid of first.