Monday, December 8, 2008

What does your inbox look like?

I've been trying to get organized -- quite a feat for the self-proclaimed Queen of Procrastination and Duchess of Lazy Perfectionism -- and since my desks at work and at home are just too much to tackle right off the bat, I've decided to take it slow and clean out my inboxes, clearing out the virtual clutter instead of piles of paperwork I really should be sorting through and throwing away.

In doing so, I've discovered that a.) my packratting tendencies extend to electronic communication, b.) I get a lot of pitches from PR people, and c.) I seem to have acquired more email addresses than may be normal. Or practical. Like, eight of them.

My personal account currently has 186 unread messages out of... gulp... 2047. My professional ones are worse, though in trying to procrastinate at the office I inadvertently became productive and winnowed my main work address' inbox down to a mere 667 messages, total. And I'm not counting spam, here -- spam goes into a different box of its own accord.

So, what goes unread? Solicitations from PR people who can't spell my name correctly (It's L-Y-L-A-H, not L-Y-D-I-A). Pitches for stories that clearly are not on any of my freelance beats. Facebook alerts. Newsletters. Embarassingly, things that I've forwarded from one account to another often go unread once they get there. That's right, I tend to ignore my own emails.

I considered just hitting "Delete All," but couldn't bring myself to do it -- and I'm kind of glad I didn't, because if I had, I would have lost a precious email from my 12-year-old saying that she missed me. On the plus side, rereading that little note made me feel warm and happy. On the down side, it also paralyzed me... what if I accidentally deleted something special?

Turns out, though, that my virtual clutter is even more overwhelming than my actual, real-life, physical clutter. My email archive has 3,899 items in it -- and that's just one of my email accounts. Gah.

Friends, 'fess up: How do you handle your electronic clutter? How often do you clean out your inbox? And how many email addresses is normal, anyway? We're talking -- um, writing -- about it over at The 36-Hour Day.

No comments: