Have you taken a look at your email inbox lately? I have! Yesterday I had 19,106 emails in my GMail account and by the end of the day, I had reduced it to 11,664. While that number left may seem high, I am so excited and relieved to know that I cleared out 7,442 emails, all in one day! It feels really good to clear out a big chunk of that "virtual clutter," and now I've learned some useful tools to continue to clear away the rest.
A lot has been written about clutter and "getting organized." There are professional organizers who assist people in clearing and organizing their "stuff." There are shows on television that help people "get organized." (The hoarder shows are dealing with deep, psychological issues, so I'm not including them in this list.) If you look around, you will find many articles and magazines usually giving space to "getting organized" or "decluttering." So it's clearly a topic that most can relate to.
Yet when we buy into the idea that we are disorganized and need to "get organized," we run the risk of not loving ourselves. There is nothing wrong with becoming more organized, but too often I've heard people criticize themselves over their lack of "organization" of their physical clutter. So there's often a lot of self-hatred going on associated with clutter and the notion that we are "less than perfect" when we don't know how to "organize" it. So if you're feeling a sense of "I'm not good enough" (or) "There must be something wrong with me" associated with your need for "organization," that's a clue to be easy on yourself and more loving.
So I decided to share my journey with clearing my inbox publicly so that others can see that they are not alone: that there is nothing wrong with them that needs to be "fixed," and that the clearing process is really an act of self-love. Once you start to feel that shift toward doing this as a way to honor and love yourself, you can more easily shift and accept tips from "organizers," too.
One can be "organized" and still have "clutter" in their lives. What physically appears "organized" may actually be draining your energy if you no longer love it, for example. Clutter is not always about our physical "stuff," either. Clutter can show up in our relationships, our minds, our bodies, in our energy and in our inboxes! I've been learning a lot from Sue Rasmussen, a life coach whose motto is "Making Room for What Matters." As part of her "Clearing Out Day" for July (which is part of a larger 12-month program called Streamline Your Success), we focused on virtual clutter. I chose to work on my Gmail account.
It was my first Clear Out Day, so I was excited. I actually had organized many of my emails into folders and could easily find the topic and the email threads I was searching. Did I have time to read all that came into my email box? - No! Had I spent a lot of time lately not bothering to read most of what came into my email box? -Yes! So these were signs to me that my Gmail account was no longer serving me, I no longer loved it and the entire thing felt "heavy" and "overwhelming" to me, so I knew it was time to clear it out.
While I go to my Gmail account often and knew I had a lot in there, I didn't realize how "cluttered" it really was until I did this exercise. I felt a bit embarrassed to see 19,106 emails in there (and I wasn't even using the "archive" function!), but I quickly got over that, because I'm doing this for me: to make room for more joy in my life, to rid myself of background clutter that doesn't serve me anymore, to clear the energy so that I can allow more love and joy in. In essence, it is part of my personal development journey-part of my journey as The Spirited Strider and totally related to loving myself. In clearing clutter, I can more easily be me.
Since I had so many emails, I decided to go with Sue's "fast pass method" which is a quick scanning of items and quickly making decisions about them. I wanted to feel better fast, so this worked for me. (I have become quite good at this lately, as I recently cleared out my mother's storage unit and had limited time to do so.) For the items that I couldn't make a quick decision about, I utilized Sue's filing system to label them to peruse later. I quickly realized that I was subscribed to way too many ezines and newsletters so I began by labeling them into a folder that I returned to at the end of the day. At the end of the day, I had 53 items in that folder, and went back to "unsubscribe" to 34 of them already. So that folder is now down to 19 items that I will make decisions on over the course of this week.
Deciding to unsubscribe from newsletters is not always an easy task. I have connections with many of the people, but honestly, I had way too much clutter to actually read their work! So I made a decision to only keep a few: those that I always read at this current time. I attracted Sue and her "Streamline Your Success" program into my life and her newsletter is one I'm keeping! While many of other newsletters I used to read, I had way too many to read them all now. I can always go back and change my mind again. I am of the mindset that if it is beneficial to me, it will come back to me and if I'm inspired again to subscribe to it, I will. Besides, by that time, I may find that my list of "newsletters that I always read" may change. But now I have the tools I need to feel good about my inbox and clear it more regularly so that it doesn't pile up like it had these past few years.
What was really revealing for me was the amount of emails I had from forums at my favorite online places to hang out: GoodVibeUniversity and Facebook. Most of those emails were notifications from forum threads I had "subscribed" to or from Facebook email notification settings. I had long ago changed my Facebook settings and this past week or so, I changed the GoodVibeUniversity forum thread subscriptions. What I had NOT done was to go back and delete all those emails, however. Thus, there were many, many emails in there that were easily cleared.
I discovered the easiest way to find these emails was to do two searches using "notification" and "notifications" in the "Search Email" tab on GMail. Hundreds and yes, thousands of emails appeared when I did that! You can quickly scan to be sure there isn't something you want to keep (as other notifications may appear there that you want to keep), but it was very fast and easy to clear when I realized it half-way through my Clearing Day.
When we clear the clutter around us and within, one can feel the energetic shift. While I felt a bit in shock at the initial site of 19,106 emails, I quickly shifted that to excitement that I was going to feel a whole lot better after this exercise--and feel better I did! I felt like a weight had been lifted and I felt quite inspired to share with others. This process is empowering!
I also found that I was really tired at the end of the day: not only because I was at the computer doing repetitive work, but also because I had cleared a lot of clutter energy that had been weighing me down. I had made some decisions to rid myself of virtual clutter that I previously I had no time for, yet had been very aware that it was there. So listening to my feelings about my inbox let me know that I needed to feel better about it by clearing some of that clutter out. In essence, that feeling of "I have to get around to reading that" was gone and that was a huge relief and I'm feeling excited to clearing more.
Abraham-Hicks knows the power of reaching for a feeling of relief to feel better. When we reach for a feeling of relief, we are moving up the emotional scale and raising our vibration. That's exactly how this process felt to me: each round of Clear Out Day felt like moving up the scale toward more relief, more relief, more relief...and then feeling really good about the day in general.
When we feel better, we attract more things and people that make us feel better. So while I have 11,664 emails to go, I'm feeling great about 7,442 that are gone and from what I've learned from this process. I now have the tools to work on the 11,664 that remain and can't wait to make room for more excitement and joy in my life!
Please feel free to share your own insights, comments and suggestions for others on this common type of clutter or how you regularly reach for a feeling of relief!