The new year is a great time to de-clutter...your inbox

Author: Bryn Namavari

I used to receive on average 300 emails a day. I know I am not alone in this phenomenon. We get copied on every email to a project team, whether it directly concerns us or not. We get offers. We get sales. We get newsletters from companies, non-profits, alumni groups, our alma maters, fundraising campaigns, coupons, sweepstakes, new spring line announcements, receipts from online purchases, links to catalogs, articles, product launches, event invites, travel deals, notifications from social media. We sometimes even get emails that are actually important and need our response.

Whew!! What a LOT of emails! Just sifting through my inboxes and deleting unwanted messages (without even opening them) takes more time than I would like. It is so easy to let them pile up. We lose important emails that need our attention in the onslaught of marketing. A lot of these contain content I had grand intentions of reading or opening regularly: design articles, marketing from product manufacturers that may come in handy for a new project, emails from my favorite pod-caster that contain useful life-improving information. But most of the time other priorities trump any of this email reading time, and these too become clutter.

So every new year, I take a few weeks to UNSUBSCRIBE from just about everything that is non-essential. Just like you might purge your closet or storage unit, if I haven't opened or read an email from a contact in the last year, they are gone. If I know I am never going to act on any offer I receive- gone. If the information is available easily via search-engine- also gone. One or two clicks for each, and my inbox is a little lighter.

This process usually takes about a month as different emails arrive weekly, or monthly, etc., but when they next show up, *click* a little more freedom. Somehow, over the course of the year, these 'subscription' emails add back up, which is why it is important to do a cleanse at least annually.

Never-fear, this doesn’t happen over night, and there are a few more things you’ll need to do to see this kind of change (tune in to future posts for more helpful tips). As a small-business owner, and someone with multiple activities outside of my ‘day job’, there is nothing more important than streamlining those activities that take away from the precious few hours I get to use on what I consider my ‘real’ work and the things I really enjoy doing.

There is something gratifying, and down-right liberating, about opening one's inbox to see less than a dozen new emails a day rather than 300. I can name at least ten things without trying that I'd rather do than be on email- including cooking, spending time with friends and family, sharing meals, going to the ballet, sailing, painting, volunteering, reading, hiking, or even sitting and doing absolutely nothing.

Let's be honest: Life is too short to spend it reading email.

Next: ‘Training your contacts to use email properly and efficiently--not as a 'chat' service.’

You can read more from our Founder, Bryn Namavari, on starting and running a small business, being a self-employed artist and designer, doing commissioned, freelance or contract work, architecture, art and design here.