How could it be that I have managed to store 13,000 e-mails in my earthlink inbox? The reason I know I have that many e-mails is because every week or so, a little icon next to my e-mail inbox goes into red, danger territory. That’s how earthlink tells you that you have to pay them $10 more a month so you can store all your spam in case, you know, you suddenly wake up and decide you DO in fact want to buy cheap pharm, and enlarge the penis you don’t happen to have and maybe, who knows, send the entire contents of your IRA to some guy in Nigeria who really, really needs it.
When I glance at that red line hovering in the dangerous-you-have-too-much-crap-in-here territory, I feel like I’m sitting on a nuclear reactor. Except I’m not Homer Simpson, and I actually DO feel kind of bad knowing the whole thing’s going to go up in a big mushroom cloud.
Every once in a while, I try to delete some of those e-mails. But the whole effort is very lame. I search on things like “cooks illustrated” and “publishers lunch” and “amazon” and delete three or four pages of e-mails at a time. My inbox goes from 13,000 e-mails to 12, 937 e-mails. A day and a few visits from energetic spammers later, I’m back at 13,000. It’s a little like trying to empty the ocean with a teaspoon.
The whole thing was making me feel bad.
So, this morning I took a deep breath, and figured out how you delete the whole inbox at once. That’s when I discovered that if they ever need someone to push a button that blows stuff up, I’m their woman. I LIKED it. Steely eyed, I sat with my finger hovering over the “enter” button. And then I just tapped it sort of lightly, in a carefree manner. I didn’t for even a second feel worried that there might be something in that in box that mattered, some e-mail so precious I had saved it to re-read to my children or pass on to my literary executor, or an e-mail with good news that might sustain me on a bad day, or a gift certificate you can only get if you have the proper number, or the details of the bus that picks kids up from skatecamp, or the confirmation number for my trip to New England tomorrow, or litlove’s e-mail address….
Oh my god. Tell me this wasn’t a huge, huge mistake.
PS: To the person who found my blog today by googling “how to be smart, organized and look beautiful”: I hope you got here in time to see that the way to accomplish these not inconsiderable goals is to delete your e-mails. It takes years off your life, pounds off whereever you don’t want them, and generally gives you an aura of invincibility. Until you need the skate camp bus schedule, of course. Then you’re on your own.
and one more PS. Obviously, my method of inbox decluttering is a little extreme. My friend Debby, who was once my co-worker, and used to pretty regularly inform me that my shoes and outfit didn’t quite work and was always right about that, e-mailed this far more helpful decluttering routine, which I reproduce in its entirety. Debby (who is not my college friend Debbie, although I’m guessing that Debbie doesn’t have 13,000 e-mails either) has many skills and talents, not least of which is her ability to pull off something like this:
On my yahoo account, I empty the spam folder every, single day. And I delete all unnwanted emails every single day.On my work account, I delete all non-work “sent items” emails every day and delete all non-work emails in my inbox every day. I then delete all deleted items every day. After I’ve finished doing my timesheets, I delete all the unnecessary emails for that time period and move the important ones over into the appropriate folders.I also delete all my cookies and browsing history every day before I leave the office.
This is probably the only thing I do religiously. I have almost no emails in my inboxes.