Get to Inbox Zero and Declutter Your Life
Last week I was on this productivity webinar with Justin Baeder, an ed leadership coach, on how to get to inbox zero. I realized then that taming the email monster was just a metaphor for decluttering your life. One principal had a mailstrom of 13,000+ emails. Justin showed leaders how to get on top of their emails in just a few minutes a day and pumped out handy tips on archiving, deleting, taming the email beast. During the webinar, principals dumped daunting piles of dusty emails into archives, deleted, and zapped out their obese inboxes.
Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch While Decluttering the Basement…
I listened to the webinar while cleaning out ancient, accumulated stuff from my basement- gear I no longer needed, toys from my daughter’s toddlerhood, sundry books long unread, and mysterious household items. I plunged old clothes into a Costco garbage bag to give to charity. (This week I’m rushing to complete mega tons of household tasks before the back-to-school rush starts). My husband and I aren’t hoardy- yet we’ve accumulated stuff over the years, thrown it into a pile on sleep-deprived, hectic days in an ever increasing Mt. Vesuvius of to-do piles. Every time I did laundry in the basement, the volcanic, strewn items taunted me with imminent sense of urgency to tidy up and defeated overwhelm in my hurry to grab a couple of items and bolt. My mother is a super-organized, analytical woman- and some of her zeal for organization rubbed off on me. Although my ADHD brain jumps all over the place, I enjoy and appreciate neatnik environments, and I strive to keep my work space pristine and clear.
My husband and daughter, on the other hand, are like messy leaf blowers–spewing disorder, volcanic clutter, and paper explosions in their paths. They also could care less if our house is orderly. Periodically Kevin will stomp through and bellow, ”What’s up with this mess?”—as if a sneaky tornado descended upon our home. He’ll pick up a few things here and there- and in a couple of hours, he’ll have resumed his usual unruly style of non-housekeeping. (Psst–when asked one-one, my messy family admitted that they do prefer things tidy. They just don’t naturally bother with organizational pursuits).
Anyhow, back to email and decluttering—
A few of the a-has from the webinar for me were:
- If we’re not vigilant about deleting emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical clutter from our lives, junk/stuff/things/tasks will pile up into a scary tsunami of entropy.
- If leaders don’t deal with toxic behavior and sociopathic spectrum sentient beings head-on, the septic poison they bring into an organization will undermine workplace morale, production, and well-being.
- Avoid toxic people, frenemies, places, and things. Trust my gut- don’t even bother “archiving” the relationship. Delete!
And on the literal, practical sense, I learned:
- How to snooze certain emails, schedule time to work on them, use Justin’s system outlined in his Future File Guide to learn how to keep your desk clutter-free.
- To limit action items for team to one item whenever possible.
- To keep emails short–people don’t read long manifestos or dissertation-style emails. Think: TLDR.
- How to achieve inbox zero every day.
And it reminded me:
- Only to process email 2-3 times a day at set times. Continue to use Evernote, a handy online and phone system for filing and storing practically anything online. (Note: you can even scan paper documents with your Iphone via Scannable and upload it to Evernote, from whence you can download as an attachment, send it to someone, etc. It automatically time, date, and location stamps, and you can create tags for easy searching).
- To read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.
- To be vigilant about keeping clutter at bay.
- To choose personal and business associates carefully. Trust your intuition. Like Olivia Pope from Scandal says, “My gut is never wrong.”
P.S. Justin has several mini e-courses for school leaders on everything from High Performance Teacher Evaluation, an online membership group for educational leaders, coaching, and strategies for landing your next admin job. I’ve personally found the tips, courses, and community helpful in launching my admin career to the next level. (Side note: I didn’t receive any kickbacks or compensation for this—I just am excited about my learnings and wanted to share them with you). 🙂