I have email FOMO!
I picked up The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris on my way home from London. It’s been on my books to read list for years, but I’m glad it waited until now to come home with me. To be honest, I’m not sure I would’ve been receptive to some of the information while I was neck deep in spreadsheets and financial statements. I’m about half way through the book now, and already have a ton of notes and concepts to digest.
One of the points he keeps driving home is the value of your time. In order to create more time freedom, Tim invites you to define, eliminate, automate and liberate. As someone who declutters her closet and home a couple times a year, I thought I was pretty good on the eliminate piece. Then I read the section on email.
I’m gonna be totally transparent here. My personal email is out of control! I have thousands of unread emails and potentially thousands more that are read and saved for various reasons. I’m purposely not looking at the read number because I’m afraid it’s bigger than I’m willing to admit right now (#imightbeanemailhoarder).
About once a year, I find myself so overwhelmed and fed up that I get sucked into a massive cleanup effort. It usually starts with deleting a few emails and noticing how good it feels to have the more recent messages under control. Wanting to continue this feel good feeling, I start batch deleting emails from the Social or Promotions tabs in Gmail. That may sound quick and easy, but typically find myself scanning every email subject just to make sure I’m not deleting something important. So, this “quick and easy” solution actually takes some effort.
I started to get curious about why I had so many emails and cringed when I heard myself say, “I don’t want to miss an opportunity to save money or go to an event I might want to attend!” I think what I’ve discovered is I have EMAIL FOMO! Ahhhh!
The more I looked at what was filling my inbox, the more out of control I felt. One repeating presence that stood out in particular were the daily emails I was receiving from Victoria Secret. I haven’t shopped there in well over a year, but I could hear that little voice inside saying “but we like to know when they are having a sale… just in case we need something.” I’ve been receiving emails from VS every single day for YEARS, just in case. I can’t even fathom what that equates to in time spent opening, reading and deleting. What I do know is that I have surely invested more time in dealing with those emails than I have saved by knowing that there was a sale going on.
And with that, my email decluttering is officially underway. This isn’t the batch delete kind of cleanup. I’ve been carefully scrutinizing every single email that is in my inbox and unsubscribing from anything that doesn’t bring me joy or add value to my life.
I’m not sure if I could ever get down to only checking email once a week as Tim suggests. However, I would like to get to the point where opening my inbox is exciting instead of overwhelming. That is an achievable first step that I’m sure is going to lead to other changes in my digital world.
What does your inbox look like? More importantly, what does your inbox feel like?
If overwhelm and heavy are what come to mind, I highly suggest doing your own email decluttering. Remember, you don’t have to do it all once if that thought immobilizes you.
Here are just a few ideas.
Tackle a certain number of emails a day.
Make the decision that you will unsubscribe from emails as they arrive in your inbox that don’t bring you joy or add value to your life.
Be conscious and intentional about who you give your email to going forward.
Try an app like Unroll.me to help you get a kick start on the process.