Email hording: Are You a Victim of Paperless Clutter in Your Home Office?

Like piles of newspapers; old blogs, newsletters and mass mailings clutter up your home office email.

You wouldn’t have your home office set-up cluttered with piles of newspapers and other paper clutter; then why have your inbox filled with email clutter?

B & W photo stack of newspapers

An inbox filled with old newsletters, blogs, and mass emailings is like an office filled with old newspapers.

In the home office, email is a major form of communication and connection with the world. Wanting to improve my home office time management, a few weeks ago I took the plunge and did a massive decluttering of my email inbox. The number of emails in my inbox had grown to ridiculous numbers. I felt like the Collier* of email hording. I have the bad habit of using my inbox as a file folder. They had been color tagged for “forward and share”, “save and file”, “add to database,” etc. and never/or already filed, shared or added.

I took a deep breath, highlighted all the emails before a specific time category: “very old” and hit delete. It took only a minute to delete them, but 14 minutes to empty them from my “deleted folder”. That’s a lot of emails.

Results: my email software is working faster, my poor hard drive is breathing easier and I don’t have the albatross of many, many old emails waiting to be finished, filed or deleted. Now the challenge is keeping my newly decluttered inbox free of old, already read, out-dated and not-as-important-as-I-first-thought emails.

My new home office time management strategy: at the end of the day review my inbox and act on any late day or leftover emails then. Finish the day with an empty inbox.  I’ll let you know how successful I am with this method.

*The Collier brothers lived in New York City. Their hording so filled their city apartment they could only move around narrow paths amidst towering piles of newspapers, paper bags, old furniture, etc. They were found dead in their apartment. One brother had been crushed by a falling pile of debris and the other, invalid, brother had starved to death. A sad, but true story. Today, when NY police or firemen answer an emergency call and find a dangerous hording situation, it is code-named “Collier”.

Photo by NS Newsflash