This morning, while sifting through my personal email to delete some of the advertising messages before opening the good stuff from friends and family, I checked what I thought was the box beside the first email and proceeded to hit delete.
Suddenly, all my messages were selected. You know, the ones that I’ve been saving for the past three years because I just might go back and read them at some point? Yeah, those messages.
Fortunately, a confirm message popped up and I was able to cancel my action and save my precious messages. But it lead me to think that maybe deleting all those old messages would do wonders for how bogged down my mind has been feeling lately.
It would be like dumping all the content on a hard drive and starting fresh. Or so I think.
I’ve been doing some other purging lately because we recently had our house painted and, as a part of this process, we had to move furniture and stuff around to make room for the painters. This lead to cleaning out of the closets and purging of stuff that we no longer use or need but just haven’t been able to part with. This purging has led to me to think that cleaning out my Inbox (at work and at home) might serve the same refreshing purpose of clearing my mind of the junk that I have accumulated.
Alas, I have not done it. Why you ask? Because I’m a (bit of a) hoarder when it comes to emails and the written word in general.
Good or bad, I have saved just about every email that has ever been sent to me. Professional organizers would have a field day with my personal Inbox, not to mention my work Inbox. They would also scream that what I’ve been doing is incredibly unhealthy in terms of my mental stability. (At least, that’s how I feel about the overflowing Inbox. And the worst part is, I don’t even organize the emails into separate folders based on topic or sender for future reading. I keep it all in my Inbox.)
I have also saved every little piece of paper on which I have written an idea for a story, or a blog post, or a letter to someone that never did get fully written. I have a file box tucked away in my closet that my husband would love to see thrown out. But every time I open it and start to sort through it, I am brought back to the moment when I conceived this idea or that idea and I just can’t bear to part with the piece of paper on which the idea is written just in case someday I decide to sit down and write the story that is based on that idea.
Back to the Inbox for a moment. What would be the worst that could happen if I deleted all my emails? I haven’t read any of them (ok, maybe one or two) since I received them. Would my mind feel clearer? Opening my email and seeing only the messages that I received today would certainly make things simpler in my daily routine. And if I needed to find something, I wouldn’t have to sift through pages and pages of emails. Of course, there’s the catch: “If I needed to find something”. If I deleted everything, I wouldn’t be able to find anything. It would all be gone. But how often have I needed to find something?
If I organized everything into properly labeled folders and kept only the most recent email in every thread, it would all still be there for me when I “needed” it.
But somehow, organizing it all doesn’t offer that same sense of purging that just hitting delete does. If I have to go through it all and organize it, I’ll probably give up and feel more dragged down by the enormity of my hoarding problem.
But just hitting delete…that has such a sense of freedom associated with it.
What do you think? Should I hit delete?