The Magic of Number 871

That was the magic number on Wednesday. Today’s magic number is 848. That’s the number of emails in my Inbox. Today’s blog is about being real, owning my challenges, taking the stigma out of disorganization and reminding you that even as a professional organizer, I’m not always organized.

Important to note is that I first confessed to my challenge with email clutter three years ago – almost three years to the day. I posted on April 29, 2014, that I had a “dirty little secret”. I reported at that time that I had 999 emails in my inbox.

Somewhere along the way, I fell off the wagon. Because I’m human. Because priorities change. Because when the numbers started to climb, I didn’t think I had the time to deal with my pet project. What I didn’t realize was how the glut of emails made me feel, how much I missed out on, that a lot of people never have more than 20 emails in their inbox. While that last point still blows my mind, it remains my constant inspiration.

It was mid-January this year when a friend looked over my shoulder and noticed that I had 2200 emails in my inbox. Aghast, she exclaimed, “I could never handle that much in my inbox”. I didn’t have the gumption to tell her that number represented only the unread emails. I never checked the total number, but suspect it was somewhere in the range of 5,000 to 6,000. Most of those emails were Facebook notifications, correspondence with other professionals I worked with at some point over the last three years, and a lot of how to messages for various online apps and services I use.

So what has changed in the last four-and-a-half months? Well, I turn off Facebook notifications as needed; I’ve unfollowed some groups on Facebook, I’ve updated contact information for many people and saved several pictures to the appropriate folders on my C:/ drive. I’ve appointed a friend to be my accountability partner; every once in a while, she checks in to get an email count. The best part is that I’m able to look at every email I receive each day and take action in a timely manner. Ironically I feel somewhat more present because I can respond to emails instead of being overwhelmed by my inbox and losing sight of what needs a response.

What’s the takeaway for you? A few things:

Everyone has something they just aren’t great at; for many, that thing is organization.
It isn’t always easy to follow through, even when you have the best of intentions. Backsliding (falling off the wagon) happens – to everyone. It doesn’t mean you have failed; it means you are human.
Clutter creates feelings and emotions we aren’t always conscious of. Be sure that your stuff isn’t holding you back.
If you have tried and failed, at anything, I hope you will give it another go. You’ve got this!