As I’ve written before, I’m a little obsessed with decluttering and organising. A house full of small people ensures my life remains in some state of anarchy at all times. I think that’s what’s driven my organisational geekery, in search of what can be ordered and structured amidst the chaos.
There’s loads of info out there on how to organise the bigger areas in your home and life, so I thought I’d start a series addressing a few of the little areas that can reach a state of chaos, but easily get overlooked.
First up: INBOX
Call me mad, but an organised inbox is rather calming. And if it’s “tidy”, no small person can mess it up. Freakin’ awesome. How many emails are sitting in your inbox at the moment? I used to have loads. Here’s a screenshot of my inbox today.
My husband was actually the one to introduce me to the crazy idea of getting your inbox to zero. Him and David Allen in the book Getting Things Done.
- If you receive an email that will take less than 2 minutes to reply, do it then and there, and either delete it or file it in a folder.
- If the email will take longer than 2 minutes, file it, and return to it when you’ll have time to reply.
- Have mailbox folders, and use them. The main folders I use are:
- Next Actions – Emails you need to deal with soon but will take longer than 2 minutes. Only put one off items in here. Anything that will have more than one email related to it, should go in the folder below.
- Projects – Create subfolders in here, for anything you’ve got happening like a kids party, a house renovation, travel plans etc, that will have more than one email related to it. You can then group all emails related to that project, so they’re easy to find.
- Kids – Kindergarten bills, notices etc etc.
- Receipts – All receipts for online purchases.
- Reference – Emails you may wish to refer back to but don’t need urgently.
- Someday – Anything that you’d like to read at some point but it’s completely non urgent (funny emails, links people send you etc).
- Delete your subscriptions to all the one-day-deal sites – they fill your inbox, and often convince you to buy junk you don’t need or want because it’s on “special”. Bargain hunting used to be a great skill, but these days there are so many “bargains” out there that it is largely just a grand exercise in wasting your money.
- Get in the habit of sending quick replies, don’t feel you have to write a novel in response to each email you receive.
I realise that if you’re in the thick of nappies and sleep deprivation, sorting out your inbox is low on the priority list. Save this one in your “Someday” folder! But choosing any single, manageable task can be pretty satisfying, and is often motivation to get onto the bigger stuff.
Happy inbox decluttering!