I’m going to spare you all the minimizing details of these last five days (March 1 – 5). My original intention was to spend three days cleaning up my computer and two days in the garage. Here’s the end result: I needed more time than planned (still do) on my computer, and frankly; when I walked into the garage and saw what exactly there was to tackle, I about-faced and walked out. Anyway, it was cold in there.
Yes, initially I questioned whether or not I was having maladaptive thoughts about my capabilities to minimize the clutter in the garage. I think not! I’m aware that sometimes it is a fine line between realism and rationalism. Ism is as ism does. I do believe I was being realistic. I will, instead, plan some future weekend time this spring to do an actual garage clearing-out. And I’ll recruit my husband to help. He will be THRILLED.
During the course of my computer de-cluttering this week, I attempted to seek some outside help - mostly for my email. Generally, I keep my Outlook organized. I have 93 folders and several of those have subfolders. Mind you, this is ten years of emails. I have tens of thousands of emails. Yes, I save almost every one. Believe it or not, at least once (if not several times) a month I refer back to emails from my past – my ghosts of emails past. Whether it’s a former client resurfacing or my needing to fact-check, I make use of those old emails. I will not delete those emails, but it is worth my time to do some re-organization. I took an online Email Assessment from Egan Email Solutions to learn that while my Outgoing Emailing habits may be serving me well (I scored a 72 thank you very much), my Inbox handling habits are getting in my way (62…uh not-so-good). The funniest part of that assessment was when I hit the submit button and was abruptly interrupted with a message stating how I skipped question #14: I avoid letting my e-mail pull me away from more important tasks
Ha! How’s that for an unconscious process at work. I absolutely do that!
So, turns out I have a problem (why are you nodding?) not with my Outlook organization but with an addiction to email. Sheesh. I suppose I knew that already. Admitting that I have a problem is the first step…
Email rules my day. I have such a need for instant gratification and for having an empty Inbox, that I find myself checking it constantly when I’m working at home. It absolutely disrupts my work flow. I’m aware of this fact and yet I continue to let it happen. I’ve had an ongoing fantasy that I will have an empty Inbox and this desire simply is unlikely to ever manifest. It’s the perfect self-fulfilling prophecy: I will be free of stress when I empty my Inbox, YET I stress myself out trying to empty the Inbox and it (so far) has never been free of emails (at least not for more than an hour or two or from one late night to one early morning time period); therefore I have set myself up for having perpetual stress. Has anyone else had this experience? Please tell me I’m not alone here!
I must relinquish the fantasy of having an empty Inbox, and I will be okay with the notion that having emails in my Inbox does not determine whether or not I have a joyful existence. Contrary to my popular belief, I must create the happy existence based on the inner workings of my self and not based on something as ridiculous as my Inbox. I’m making changes. I’m transforming. I have set a schedule as to when I will check emails. I use my Outlook calendar to schedule nearly every other activity of my day – even things like lunch and walk the dog. Literally, I have my entire day scheduled with pockets of time blocked out to catch up on whatever I didn’t accomplish earlier. And the main reason I may not accomplish a task is because I spend too much time on email. So why not schedule Check Email? Starting this coming Monday, I have scheduled Email Checks at 7:00 AM, Noon and 4:00 PM.
I found a video on YouTube about the irresistible urge of email and email addiction. An interview by Dan Harris of ABC World News with Email Expert Marsha Egan.
Marsha’s website offers loads of useful information on tackling email and organizing. She suggests tips and presents a series called Clean Out Your Inbox Week. One example is Reduce Your Email Reclaim Your Productivity in which she offers free resources to help take control of email that is running your life and potentially harming productivity.
Marsha also has a blog Inbox Detox –helpful stuff to check out!
Along with that I found Twelve Tips for an organized desk
The following video showing an interview with Ellen Damaschino provides some ideas on how to turn Piles into Files.
Oh and check this out! Author of Organizing from the Inside Out, Julie Morgenstern, discusses how to Downsize Your Life. Please note: the beginning of this video starts out in a fuzzy way.
Julie’s suggestions for Downsizing Your Life: 1) Giving your next phase in life a Theme. This helps you maintain your focus when it comes to eliminating your things. 2) Take inventory of what is weighing you down (she talks about how we really need a very little amount of material items) by separating the treasures from the unnecessary items. She claims that we only really use or love about 20% of the items we hold onto. 3) Get rid of stuff. It’s deep work and necessitates getting clear about the value of objects. The goal has to be to RELEASE – LET GO.
If anyone has any additional tips, tricks or tools for organizing, I welcome your thoughts!
Cheers to LETTING GO!
Think about any attachments that are depleting your emotional reserves. Consider letting them go.
If you’d like to follow this journey from the beginning, the links below will direct you to the series of posts to date.