Tackling Digital Clutter: Digital Decluttering Your Inbox

Picture of a very tidy, umcluttered white desk with a laptop open to an empty screen. To the right of the laptop is a pen holder containing pencils. To the left is an empty off-white pottery vase, next to which is a solitary green plant leaf in a slim glass vase. In front of the vases is a small wooden carving of the @ sign. The workspace appears very organized and decluttered.

Last Updated on 23/07/2023

Digital clutter can weigh you down as much as physical stuff. It can get to be downright overwhelming. And it can slow down your productivity. What’s the solution? To start digital decluttering, begin with your emails.

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While I’ve only been qualifying actual physical clutter for my 30-day decluttering challenge, I have been growing more aware of the space digital clutter is occupying in my life and becoming less and less tolerant of marketing emails in particular.

Digital Clutter Is a Distraction

It’s incredible how much time we spend every day deleting spam, newsletters, and product infos. I’m tired of it.

A lot of folks simply ignore irrelevant emails and let them stack up, but I’ve always run my own mail server so digital decluttering is a non-negotiable. I don’t want unwanted junk clogging up storage space. Plus, I’m a huge proponent of Getting Things Done and keeping all my inboxes up to speed at 0 unread.

So when digital clutter lands in my inbox, I feel compelled to take action on it, if only to delete it. Yet that’s an interruption to whatever it was I was working on.

E-Mail Marketers Want Your Money

Sometimes I also wind up clicking some sale link. If I’m avoiding real work or having a slump in front of the screen, this has the potential to turn into a real time waster. Before you know it, one minute of browsing becomes 20. Maybe you even purchased something out of sheer boredom. And that means your digital clutter just led to more physical clutter, not to mention a small dent in your wallet.

GIF of a distraught cat sitting in front of his laptop, rubbing his cheeks in frustration over all the digital clutter on his computer. Some digital decluttering is in order.
GIF by @gabelew

Be Ruthless in Your Digital Decluttering

To get out of this vicious cycle, there’s really only one route to take. Be highly critical of who you let into your inbox, and unsubscribe from stuff you don’t want, read, or like.

So far I’ve unsubscribed from a bunch of retailers’ and apps’ newsletters. They’re always shouting sale! discount! one-time offer!, but really: sales are always on everywhere nowadays. I’ll wait until I actually want or need something, and then hunt around for the best price and discount code myself.

How do you keep up with your digital clutter? Are you subscribed to a lot of marketing emails?

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