Culture has us ringing in the new year making all kinds of promises for self-improvement but by no means provides an opportunity or even support to carry out these promises. I do buy into resolution season and spent this past month organizing my work space, catch-all space as well as upping my fitness goals. I even managed to shed 20 lbs of closet clutter! I have quite literally hit the ground running in 2015.
Our Catholic tradition, on the other hand, takes these seemingly vain personal promises to the next level by encouraging us to make meaningful changes that will affect both our spiritual and physical being. The traditions of the season support our efforts with an entire world of Catholics keeping each other in prayer. A powerful reminder of just how strong we are during this seemingly low season.
Throughout Lent, we are reminded of the reason for our promises in the Gospel readings and encouraged to see these promises through regardless of how we may falter. I view the New Year’s resolution season as a trial run for my Lenten obligations. Resolutions are my opportunity to set my self-improvement promises in motion and prayerfully commit them to a new way of life during Lent.
My intentions are to continue my self-improvement, goal-setting momentum and carry it over to my digital life as one of my Lenten penitential acts. With a contrite heart, I plan on clearing out the unnecessary daily clutter I receive in my email inbox. Seeing that 999+ on my email box does nag a bit at the psyche.
Yes, that unthinkable realm will be my Lenten reality. With seemingly endless space available for email, I tend to scroll past the clutter, never tending to it. It does not bother me to have thousands of unopened emails, because I know it is not urgent and I believe I will get to it eventually. It is a small nuisance that has finally reached priority status. Lent 2015 will be my “eventually.”
One recommendation I came across on managing email was to wipe it clean and start fresh. I cringe at the thought of one swooping “delete all” act. Some of my email clutter is correspondence from loved ones that have since passed. Perhaps not as sentimental as hand-written notes, but nonetheless mementos of conversations once held. I am not exactly sure how I will handle these emails when I come across them. I could print them and put them in a scrapbook. But then that means I will have to actually start a scrapbook. The email inbox was the perfect holding tank for such emails.
Regardless, this Lent I will be diving deep into this pit of digital clutter sorting, organizing and unsubscribing. Taking a FLASH approach to this daunting task I have set the fun to begin on February 18, (FL)Ash Wednesday 2015.
FLASH is a systematic approach to organizing and reducing inbox clutter.
Begin by filtering email. Before spending too much time on designing very specific filters I recommend simply filtering this first day by the most recent email in your inbox. Keeping in mind this is a processes to be worked on throughout lent. The proceeding weeks will allow for more defined filtering. Here I can view all the emails received by this sender and make a decision to trash all emails by this sender, unsubscribe or block emails from this sender or if this sender needs to be sorted which takes us to our next step.
Label (tag) emails by sender to further organize your inbox. This can help when searching for a specific email. With the few labels that I do have, I have found I am able to quickly access the newsletters and updates that I enjoy receiving but can’t always read right away. Remembering to delete these messages when I am finished is where I falter on this one.
Archive the important communications that have been tended to and for legal or other reasons may be referred back to at a later date. By archiving these messages you are freeing space in your inbox and keeping them accessible to you. Think of archiving as filing email away in a filing cabinet.
I have found it periodically necessary to scan the spam folder and sort through the messages that mistakenly end up here. After a quick scroll through I delete all and feel good about emptying this folder. This is by far my best kept folder.
This is the prize for following through and pressing on with the previous four steps throughout the weeks of Lent.
As I embark on digging myself out from the nether world of accrued digital junk I do anticipate some bittersweet reminiscing and I welcome the occasions. A trip down memory lane can be quite therapeutic. Who knows what other digital treasures I may discover in the abyss that is my inbox? Perhaps I will even get around to starting that scrapbook of yesteryear conversations.
How do you control the digital clutter in your email? Do you have any tips to help me see this daunting task through to its end? I welcome your solutions and your recommendations in the comments below.
Copyright 2015 Gina Felter