Is digital downsizing on your TO DO List? Are you like many of us who have not kept up with a manageable level of email, photographs, and documents on your digital devices?  Do you feel like you are always playing catch-up to organize and delete?

One of my favourite books to tackle this issue head on is Declutter Your Data: Take Charge of Your Data and Organize Your Digital Life. Canadian Angela Crocker, a new favourite author of mine, has written an easy-to-read guide to help us downsize our digital lives and move forward with a manageable plan. 

Crocker’s book has chapters on managing email, dedicating devices for particular uses, consolidating data, curating photos and videos, figuring out privacy, appropriate social media, fighting fake news, and digital parenting. Each of these chapters focuses on decluttering, downsizing, and increasing quality of life. 

I zeroed in on the email chapter.

For some of us, our jobs and/or community work along with family and friendship connections, mean that we feel overwhelmed with the amount of email we receive. Crocker acknowledges that some of us may be hesitant to do a complete delete of old emails for fear that there just might be something there we need. 

Some of her practical ideas to tackle this decluttering/downsizing include:

  • One Big Archive: create ONE email archive folder and move all old emails to it so you can start fresh with your inbox. 

  • Chasing Inbox Zero: Moving forward, accept that it is nearly impossible to keep one’s inbox at 0.  Decide what’s a reasonable number of emails to have in an active inbox (100?  50?) and work to maintain that number.

  • Scheduling Time for Email: Set aside specific times each day to handle incoming email, and each week to handle the back-log of what is left in your inbox. Keep only what requires action or is waiting for a response. 

  • Declaring Email Bankruptcy:  When on vacation, create a friendly auto-reply that says something like: "I’m on vacation until July 15. When I get back I will be deleting all messages in my inbox. If you need to reach me, please resend your message on or after July 15.”

Where has this book been all my life? Or at least for the last 20 years! 

I highly recommend each chapter of this practical book. Available through your public library or for purchase at bookstores and online.