First, I have a confession. I had another post planned. Then life happened. You know, that moment when you look around at the clutter in the house and think it would just be easier to move? Or stare at your email and have that momentary, “if my computer ‘crashed’ right now, and I got a new one, would any of these emails matter?” Or look at the TBR pile and wonder if you should just put a piece of wood on top and call it a coffee table?
For me, that happens every year around this time. Some people get Spring Fever, I get Fall Nesting. And. I. Have. To. De-clutter.
Yup, I’m doing it at home. Room by room. Everything comes out and only select things go back. This is one of those times I’m happy my husband bought that SUV. Hello, city dump! And I have an appointment for a charity organization to come pick up clothes and toys and small electronics. See ya!
But I’m also doing it with my writing. And this might just be the best de-cluttering operation of all.
Most of us have multiple accounts—professional and personal. It’s easy to let emails pile up (or maybe that’s just me) in the in-box and that can become a very distracting clutter.
I have multiple accounts—my “professional” writing one, two for the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and two personal accounts. I’m an email pack rat. Really. One of the personal accounts has emails dating back to 2004 (yeah, I gasped at that one too) and my professional account has emails back to 2011.
Email triage! I sort by sender then delete the obvious ones. Do I really need 32 saved emails from Pottery Barn? Why am I keeping 68 emails with new twitter followers from 2013? What’s the point of having 227 emails from a yahoo group I haven’t been involved with in over a year? Will I really read the discussion from an online workshop that took place three years ago?
(Told you I had a problem.)
Delete. Delete. File. Delete.
Blogs and newsletters
So many awesome blogs, so many fabulous writers to follow. But not all remain relevant and not all need to drop into your inbox.
For example, a few are from my “previous” life in the space industry. I’m still a die-hard space junkie so a few I’ll keep just because. But really, do I need the announcements from companies I haven’t kept up with in almost three years?
There were blogs and newsletters I signed up for early in my writing career. A few I still refer to, but not all. Some are just not relevant for whatever reason. Those are a quick unsubscribe.
I’ve also noticed a few newsletters dumping into my account lately that I didn’t subscribe to. Not only is that a major faux pas by the owner of that newsletter, but it pretty much ensures I’ll be unsubscribing, unfollowing, unliking that person.
I’ve been a bit lazy with my twitter account over the last year, I admit. It’s one of the things that’s fallen through the cracks in the chaos of 2014.
Jenny Hansen wrote a great post last December (holy poop, people, that’s 11 months ago! *fingers in ears, lalalalalala, it is not almost the end of the year, lalalalala*) on cleaning out your twitter account.
I’ll be following her advice in the near future. It’s time to update the lists I’ve made and create new ones. Check out who I’m following and why.
This is a tough one. I’m part of two group blogs; founding President of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association and as part of that group, also oversee a number of programs and member benefits. I also volunteer at my son’s school and recently agreed to help out with a climbing team event. Add family, house, exercise, and … what am I missing … oh yeah, writing.
Every so often, you need to evaluate where you’re spending your time and whether those activities are in line with your end goal (if you don’t know what the end goal is, declutter those thoughts first). It’s not easy to say no and some of us have a harder time with that than others. But stretching yourself too thin doesn’t do anyone any good either.
Are you contributing to a blog that isn’t getting the reach you’d like or that’s taking more time than you have to give? Bow out gracefully and professionally.
Consider your volunteering commitments. If you can’t give the level of commitment that’s expected (by the group—personal or professional—or that you have for yourself), then consider backing away, again, gracefully and professionally.
Are you in a writing group that isn’t giving you the level of support you need? Thank everyone for the knowledge they’ve shared and walk away.
Yes, I’ve been doing that myself. And yes, I’ve agonized over every decision. But you know what, that extra bit of time, the less daunting number of emails, the twitter stream of people I really WANT to keep up with, all equal a less cluttered mind. And that means I can now cozy up to the revisions and shiny new WIP without the distractions. The other decluttering exercise—my office no longer looks like a tree threw up in it. Oh yeah!
Decluttering done, you can now focus on those end goals—remember those?
So, if you’ll excuse me, I’m ready to hunker down for the winter and write!
Okay, WITSers, I want to hear from you—are you “tidy” with your emails, twitter accounts, commitments or do you find yourself waking up one day with that “gotta do something about this” feeling?
After years of pushing the creativity boundary in corporate communications, Orly decided it was time for a new challenge. Three women’s fiction manuscripts later (plus a handful of picture books), it’s safe to say she’s found her creative outlet. When she’s not talking to her imaginary friends, she’s reading or at least trying to ignore everyone around her long enough to finish “just one more paragraph.” Orly is the founding president of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association.