There was a time when the amount of email received in a day was paraded as the mark of a true warrior. Ok, not the mark of a true warrior, more the mark of someone who thinks that being sent loads of stuff makes them look very important. I will confess to having been involved in conversations with colleagues where we compared the volume of messages received and nodded gravely in agreement at how very busy we were. Strange stuff. You would never brag about the amount of post that you get through your letter box or the amount of conversations that you have. Can you imagine saying "You'll never believe it, I got home to find seven letters on the door mat and that was after I'd spoken to at least twelve people on the phone and met precisely five more. Really, the amount of communication I've had to take part in today has made me feel incredibly weary."? No, you would sound like a pratt. So why is it different when it's digital?
I have a long history with email, from managing the single account belonging to my workplace many moons ago to running three separate accounts today. I would struggle to get by without it, and I do like it when it's properly used. I have also experienced the thrill of receiving a company-wide email that says 'please delete the previous message immediately' which of course means that everyone reads it, saves it, and its contents become more interesting and explosive than the latest episode of whatever soap nobody watches together these days. It has had it's moments.
But here's the thing. Somewhere along the line I had forgotten that I can choose what email I receive and respond to and my email accounts were filling up with sales messages that I don't want. Every day yielded a digital disappointment as I would miss a message from my friend in Australia because it was lost in a see of 'SHOP NOW' emails from companies I don't want to hear from. No, Wallpaper Direct, I have no desire to re-enact last year's eight weeks of decorating this year thank you very much.
Same goes for facebook status updates and LinkedIn discussions threads that drip into my accounts by the minute. If I'm not 'there' then I can't properly contribute, and these endless blips and updating inboxes are distracting me from the stuff I should be doing and smothering the messages I should be seeing (like those from my accountant - sorry!) which makes me feel annoyingly disorganised. No wonder people frown when they look at their phones. I blame mine for the irritatingly wonky lines that are forming between my eyebrows.
Now of course you could apply lots of lovely rules and 'sweeps' and automatic clean-ups but this makes you keep shed loads of unwanted mail 'just in case'. You wouldn't keep every pizza flyer or double-glazing leaflet or save every voicemail you received so why store every email? Unfortunately, as our email accounts are not like the cupboard under the stairs which will eventually burst forth if you shove even one more toy in it, we end up with years of dusty, pointless old data and I have had enough.
There's nothing for it but to be as ruthless. I'm going on a mission to remove all the rubbish and ditch the endless offers from Debenhams (sorry Debenhams but there's only so many 'Blue Cross Sales' a girl can take) after which I shall clap my hands over my computer and chime Indian bells to get my digital chakras in order. I'm going to detox the inbox.
Soundtrack: Where Is My Mind - The Pixies