Step Into Our Inbox

October 14, 2010 at 8:11 pm 2 comments

We often think of clutter as the stuff around us – lingering items that fill our cupboards, closets, garages, basements and junk drawers.  But what about the stuff we store on our computers, hard-drives, internet and mobile phones? Virtual clutter can impact us the same way physical clutter can.  It can overwhelm, take up space, and keep us holding on when it’s time to let go.

We recently attended a start-up networking event and got into a discussion around editing work, virtually held documents, and email. We discussed the merits of editing ones “inbox” and were asked to help someone with this work. It can be overwhelming to tackle virtual clutter but we’ve broken things down into a few categories:


It provides us with a source to communicate personally and professionally

1. Get familiar with your email provider – what features do Outlook, Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc… provide? For example, Gmail provides Google docs which allow you to store word documents, spreadsheets, presentations and other pertinent information.

2. Create necessary folders, such as “pending”, “important”, “passwords”, or anything that’s applicable.  Remember to manage the folders by updating and deleting often.

3. Filter junk by checking the filter specifications on your email. REMEMBER – when you provide your email address to sites on the internet or in person they will most likely send you multiple emails advertising their product or service. Online you often have to “opt-in” (check the box that says you want to receive information about products/services). So opt out!

4. Sift through emails from the past and ask “why am I hanging onto messages from past lovers or friends”? What feelings do they evoke? What value is there in keeping digital records of them? When you’re ready, double delete.  Or create a “sentiments” folder until it’s time to let go.

5. Don’t drink and type (otherwise known as merlot and email don’t mix).  There’s a reason Gmail has a safety feature that ask skill testing questions when you attempt to send messages at 3am.

6. Action email as soon as possible to file/delete, and move on with your existence. We all have emails sitting in our inbox we don’t know what to do with (we actually know exactly what to do with them – reply not a chance to that family re-union in Sudbury or respond to the “how are you” message from the loser you’ve been avoiding for three months – we just don’t want to). These messages glare at us every time we open our inboxes and, really, outside of common email courtesy (responding promptly) action-ing (it’s a verb now) annoying emails reduces stress by allowing us to move on.


These files can include academic work, recipes, random pieces of information, receipts, excel files, presentations etc …

1. Look through all documents to first determine if you need to hold on to them. Will you need to access these files again in the future? Are you keeping them for a sentimental reason?

2. Name files appropriately – proper naming conventions save time and energy (especially when attempting to locate at a later date).

3. Create folders in your documents folder or on your desktop – wherever they’ll be managed/accessed most.


The line is getting blurry between computers and phones. Many phones provide access to email and the web and require editing as well.

1. Create folders on blackberrys and iphones.

2. Sync your phone to email, computer calendar, etc… (this will reduce the need to do double the work).

3. Get rid of unused applications (we know the Harmonica app seemed like a good idea at the time, but it wasn’t).


1. Customize your favourites folder and tool bar for easy access to your favourite sites.

2. Utilize Google Chrome web browser to visually have access to you most visited or favourite sites (Macs have this built into the Safari browser).

For further storage outside of your computer use USB keys, burn information onto CDs, or use external storage devices.

For more Info check-out:

And, despite what Avenue Q says,

the internet is not for porn. It’s obviously for organizing tips.


Entry filed under: Decluttering, Editing, Home Office Organization, Virtual Clutter. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Step Into Our Proverbial Closet Step Into Our Container

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rob  |  November 2, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    Thanks again for all your help and editing! Your blog is hilarious – great to meet both of you.

  • 2. Step Into Our Cubicle «  |  December 11, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    […] As always refer back to our glorious 8 step organizing process along with our other helpful posts about home offices and desktop organization. […]


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