At least the problem is common, if not the category of clutter. “People hold onto their possessions for many reasons, but one important reason is that these possessions have meaning,” says Susan Krauss Whitbourne, PhD and professor emerita of psychological and brain sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “The way to let go of clutter is to examine the meaning each item has and ask yourself what will happen if you dispose of it. The chances are that you'll recognize you will be fine after you do so.”
Ok, so if I can examine the meanings and origins of each mailing list, it’ll be easier to decide what goes and what stays. The problem is, I can’t really “tidy by category, not by location” nor can I take my emails to Beacon’s Closet where it will inevitably be rejected by some chick with Bettie Page bangs. I have to think outside the inbox (ew, gross).
So for your consideration, here is the GarMary method for cleaning up your inbox clutter.
Don’t cling to someone you were in high school
Michaels was probably my first promo email from back when I was making a fashion design portfolio. And talk about emotional attachments, I haven’t yet hit unsubscribe...until now. This one I definitely held onto because some part of me wanted to believe I’m still artistic, when the reality is that my creativity extends to humorously Photoshopped birthday cards.
I guess next time I’m feeling Pinterest-y I’ll just buy a fish bowl, fill it with green sand, and then toss it in the trash six months later. Seriously, who has time for a Mermaid Garden?
Know the difference between a main squeeze and a side chick, brand-wise
I have an Abbi Abrams-esque obsession with Bed Bath & Beyond. My boyfriend took me there for 1/3 of date night Friday and I was in home-goods heaven. It does genuinely “spark joy,” which means I’ll allow the constant stream of 20 percent-off coupons. On the flipside, I don’t need to keep up with Overstock on an everyday basis. I’m grateful for the hot pink carpet in my living room, but that’s enough of a reminder of our brief fling.
Hold up: Do you even go to this school?
I transferred out of my Philadelphia college rapid-fire fast, so the chances of me driving two hours up to see a concert at the Franklin Music Hall are slim to none. Double that for the mid-sized venue near my New Jersey hometown. If I don’t see Papa Roach or Sublime with Rome this year, I’m sure I’ll deal.
Likewise, you don’t owe anyone who put you thousands of dollars in student debt anything
I enjoyed my time at Rutgers, don’t get me wrong. I basically had a minor in “The Internet,” which meant I was learning about memes for school credit. So in a KonMari-approved move, I’m gonna say “thank you” before I say goodbye.
However, it’s been five years since graduation. I truly don’t need discount tickets for football games. Also, I thought I unsubscribed from these emails already?
Remember, anyone who refers to you as Mary is not your friend
Actually, this might be a me-specific thing. Incidentally it applied to many emails where I clicked “I never signed up for this list” on the exit survey.
Sure, you can laugh at my methods for digital decluttering. Yet when all was said and done, I removed myself from 23 mailing lists just by being emotionally honest with myself. And that makes sense for a life lived online; there’s still so many reminders of who I once was. And whether digital or physical, being true to yourself and what gives you joy is still the route of what will clear up your world.
If you want to declutter actual things, there are a lot of non-Kondo resources out there as well: here's the feng shui guide to streamlining your life, for starters. And if minimalism makes you feel naked, try the wabi-sabi approach.
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