The great 50 Cent once said, “If they hate then let them hate and watch the money pile up.” Yes to that. But other things piling up? Hard no. Lately, I’ve noticed a pattern of piles. Emails (I have 4 accounts). DMs. BOXES. OMG the boxes. Snail mail. Dishes in the sink if I still need to unload the dishwasher. And then random papers that I get through receipts, the doctor, things I have to print, etc. It seems like the stuff keeps coming, and piling up. Gotta tackle the to-dos.
Last fall, I shared this Zen habits article Clear Things Out in my newsletter. “They accumulate if we don’t tend to them” rings so true. And the more they accumulate, the more overwhelmed I get, and the more I procrastinate to tend to them. Here are some ways I’m handling the piles.
Emails & DMs
Email is probably the worst of them all. I used to go through my emails on Fridays to clean things out and sort and prioritize. But I found that actually took me waaaay too long. A lot of emails you can delete, but there are a lot more that require action. Either you having to answer questions or do something, or check with someone else. There’s a lot of tasks within tasks. Sometimes I look at my email and just want to delete them all and start fresh. But alas, I cannot. And I am one of those people who CANNOT have hundreds or thousands of email notifications. Nope nope nope. So every day I have this method:
- Answer and sort immediately as they come: the ones that require little effort I tend to first since they are simple and I can hit delete or quickly file away
- Tend to later in the day: These take a little more time but I make a note on my to-do list to get it done that day
- Save for later: Maybe it’s a more lengthy task or requires me to follow up with other people. Or it’s something I can read later like a new whitepaper. But I make sure it’s sorted by the end of the week, if possible
I keep the ding on my work emails so I ensure I don’t miss anything urgent during the day. But I also set dedicated periods of time for work, so I shut that off during those 1 to 2 hour time blocks. That way I am not distracted. And my other email accounts (personal gmail, my Beautycounter emails) aren’t as urgent so I check on those only a couple of times throughout the day.
But I make sure to delete all my subscription newsletters each day, and I’ve unsubscribed from about 95% of sales/marketing emails because all they do is bombard my inbox. If I want a sale or coupon code, I look to their social media and shop through Honey for discounts. And as far as DMs, since I am on social media a lot for work, I check those a few times a day to keep up. I don’t know how influencers keep up with their Instagram DMs. You’d need a dedicated person for that.
Boxes, Mail & Papers
The pandemic stepped my online shopping up about 1,000 notches. I am still ordering a lot online and with a baby on the way, there are lots of packages being delivered. Again, I was letting them pile up at the front door and while I still do that sometimes, opening them each day and breaking down the boxes (or actually putting a box pile together for my husband to break down!) and then putting that item in its place has helped a lot. Less clutter for me equals a more peaceful space. Especially as I am still spending so much time at home.
As with snail mail, I have found calling and getting off lists helps SO much to tackle the to-dos. I find the most mail is from non-profits. And while I want to support them, I don’t need 87 return mailing labels and notecards from them asking for donations. I will donate to who I can when I can, so I remove myself from their lists. Catalogs, too. I love reading some of them but they are so wasteful. So when you have mail piling up that you just throw in the recycle bin, take 10 minutes and call and get removed. We get so much less now.
Around the House
Every time I come home I tend to have a pile of stuff – coffee cups, shopping bags – so I immediately throw things away and/or put things away so there are not piles and piles of stuff everywhere. Having a dedicated space for everything really helps this. I made my husband a little area in the kitchen for his stuff so he doesn’t leave it everywhere, too.
WHEN did we get so much stuff? And WHY did our emails suddenly quadruple? Is this just me?! At any rate, I know a little clutter isn’t going to make or break my day, but when things are sorted and organized and I tackle the to-dos, I just feel better about going about my day. It makes things more productive, and makes downtime that much better. Here are some more tips I shared before on getting organized.