Guest post by Rachel Papworth – decluttering coach and blogger at Green & Tidy, helping people with WAY too much stuff declutter and create homes they love, homes that support them to lives the lives they want to live.
A crucial element of managing clutter is mindfulness: noticing how you use your things, how you move them around your home, how you use your home. And constantly tweaking how your home is set up so that it works efficiently for you.
On Clear Your Clutter, Stay Clutter-Free and Live the Life You Want, I recommend that you don’t just delete unwanted emails, you make a point of unsubscribing. And you don’t just put unwanted mail in the recycling, you contact the company that sent it to you and request to be removed from their mailing list.
Of course, this only relates to companies that you’ve dealt with in the past. Stop direct mail from companies that you haven’t dealt with by registering with the Mailing Preference Service.
After writing my last blog post, about noticing how far I applied my own coaching when I decluttered my loft, I became even more mindful than usual. And, one day, I noticed myself slipping an unread catalogue from Dell computers into the recycling bin in my mail-opening station. I realised that action had become automatic. I bought a computer from Dell years ago and, ever since, every time they send me a catalogue, I put it straight in the recycling bin.
So I pulled the catalogue back out, found an email address on it and sent an email asking to be unsubscribed. Within two days, Dell mailed back to confirm my unsubscription request.
Then I got rigorous about cancelling unwanted stuff that arrives through my door. I’ve cancelled sales catalogues from organisations of which I’m a member, hard copies of programmes from local theatres and cinemas (especially those that email me weekly, I don’t need hard copies too), catalogues from companies I’ve bought stuff from in the past . . . no more unwanted catalogues, less paper being wasted and less for me to do. Plus less temptation to flick through the pages and buy more stuff !
It takes a couple of minutes to email or phone each company. Time that I’ll get back cumulatively as I save a few seconds each day, not picking up catalogues from the mat and putting them in the recycling. As we rely less and less on snail mail, and more and more on electronic communications, cutting out catalogues and marketing mail means that, some days, I receive no snail mail at all.
Speaking of electronic communications – I got rigorous with my email inbox too. I noticed how often I was scanning and then deleting mails consistently from the same organisations. Given that I recommend to others that they unsubscribe rather than just delete, I wondered why I wasn’t practising what I preached.
So I took a look. I noticed that the emails in question usually related to my other business, Papworth Research & Consultancy Ltd. And that I was choosing not to unsubscribe due to a fear of ‘missing out’. What if, sometime in the future, there was something useful in one of these emails? Plus I was anxious about why I wasn’t finding them useful? Was it because I was out of touch, unaware of what was currently important?
Once I’d identified these fears, it was easy to let them go. Sure there might be something that I’d find useful one time. It’s not likely though, given how many such emails I’ve scanned and deleted. And how crucial would it be anyway? If the information was essential to me, I’d come across it elsewhere.
As for feeling concerned that I didn’t find the emails useful or interesting, the fact that I don’t is just an indication that they’re not relevant to the bits of my work that I’m passionate about. No-one’s interested, or an expert, in every aspect of their field. And trying to be is a surefire way to lose business, since you won’t be able to bring enough energy or knowledge to any one area.
Since then I’ve been clicking the unsubscribe link in emails, unsubscribing from groups on LinkedIn and other networks and altering my email preferences on a variety of websites.
Again, this takes a little time. Not only will I get the time back though, as I don’t have to deal with unecessary emails, I’ve also noticed a reduction in stress – both because there are fewer emails for me to deal with altogether, and because I receive fewer emails which trigger a sense that I should be finding them useful.
Join me in unsubscribing.
Rachel Papworth runs Green and Tidy. She helps people with WAY too much stuff declutter, and create homes they love, homes that support them in the lives they want to live. Rachel is a trained coach, with a degree in psychology, and self-obsessed decluttering and organising geek, she loves the way decluttering your mind and your stuff is interlinked and the contribution decluttering makes to living a low-impact life. For more tips on having a home that supports the life you want, subscribe to her blog at Green and Tidy, or on Facebook or Twitter.
Photo by Charles Williams, via Flickr