Fearless Tossing

Posted By on June 12, 2009

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As I deleted thousands of e-mails from a client’s inbox, she stood behind me, directing which ones were good to go. She said, “Why can’t I do this without you? You make me less afraid of deleting e-mails.”

I’ve come across this with many of my organizing clients. When organizing by themselves, they’re more afraid of throwing things away, more afraid of making the wrong decision. When we work together, the decision-making process is crystal clear. My goal is to help them make those fearless decisions eventually by themselves. As we say in the organizing world, a lack of decision-making results in clutter — whether its paper or electronic. It all adds up.

But you don’t have to be alone and afraid to make your own decisions. You can learn to make fearless decisions on tossing paper and other clutter and delete e-mails and other electronic clutter. Here are a few ways to make those decisions without fear or regret:

  • Have I ever used this? If you can write your name in dust on it, you haven’t used it. If you have e-mails from 1998, do you really need those in your inbox?
  • Will I really ever need this? You have to brutally honest with yourself. Are you ever going to use that ice cream maker or fondue pot? Are you going to read all of the articles you have in your RSS feeder? It’s time to get real and pare down.
  • Can the information be found elsewhere? No need to keep the phone book if you look up numbers on the Internet. No need to keep e-mails from a long dead project when you have the project completed. Companies usually keep updated policies and other information on their websites so you don’t have to keep it yourself.
  • Are these attachments important? I frequently find attachments in a client’s inbox. Instead of using your inbox as storage, detach those attachments and store them on your desktop or server. If you want to keep the photos of rainbows and kittens for stress relief, detach them and delete the e-mail. Attachments take up too much room on your e-mail.
  • What’s the absolute worst that can happen if I get rid of this? It’s amazing. Many times my clients and I have deleted or thrown something away, and the world keeps spinning and no lightening struck.  

When you have no one looking over your shoulder, you can make those decisions about what to toss or delete without fear. Be fearless. Be clutter free.

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