Empties Update

In an effort to curb the sheer amount of waste I see around me, I have been on a rampage of using things up: in the kitchen, in the bathroom, at work, (inappropriately) in other people’s lives. This rampage has also been driven by a level of upsettedness at how much I seem to have accumulated in my life that drags me down. I can barely stomach looking in my wardrobe it’s so packed with crap that I can’t deal with.

I wrote a bit about the joy of empties in the past. I’m feeling very smug because I’ve keep the process up, and can share with you the little stash of empties I’ve amassed since I began my focussed attempts at using what I have in lieu of accumulating more.

Hydroluron

You may recall me banging on about this little tube of wonder in my skin overhaul series. This little guy goes for about $33 at Priceline and does wonders for rejuvenating your skin’s hydration levels and plumping out the fine lines that pop up when you aren’t giving your skin some tender loving. This tube lasted me about 2.5 months of twice-daily use. I also accidentally used way too much in the early days, so I’m confident of it’s longevity. It has already been pre-purchased and is a non-negotiable element of my morning skincare regime.

Clinique Take Off the Day Balm 

Although pricier than your standard wiping alcohol makeup remover you can grab off the shelf at Woollies, this melting balm both thoroughly removes your makeup and acts as a healing and cleansing balm on your poor face which has spent the day dealing with the world. This tub lasted me around 3 months. I love that I don’t need to use those little makeup pad wipes to remove my makeup and I love how this product helps me double cleanse in the evenings.

Lancôme night creme

This little tester was picked up in a Sephora purchase. I mainly used it to get it out of my life – and I am glad it is out of my life. A little potent and a little not right for my skin,

Clinique moisture surge 

This little sample was gifted to me by my Wedding Skincare Consultant. It is AMAZING. The product goes on so smoothly and is cooling and hydrating and made my skin feel ready for the day. I’m waiting for the magical money fairy to fly by and let me buy this in full size one day; until then I’m ruthlessly working through some cupboard-hidden moisturisers.

Garnier shampoo & conditioner

Purchased in a moment of panic at Priceline when I walked in and felt like I had to buy something. Perfectly fine but leaves my hair a little flat. Will not repurchase save for Priceline brain-fart situations.

Rexona Travel-Sized Deoderant

These mini purchases breed in my handbags and desk drawers. As with everything else, I’m methodically working my way through them. One down. One thousand to go.

Aesop Face Mask Sample

Aesop gifted me three face mask samples that are promised to reduce acne. I used one last week, and I could feel the impact quite quickly. One down, two to go.

Revlon Foundation

Since my KonMari bathroom purge in 2016, where I discovered I had over 20 liquid foundations of different shapes, sizes and tones hiding in my cupboards, I have been committed to only having one liquid foundation that I studiously use up before purchasing a new one. I’m very happy to say this one is complete. I had already restocked in the form of a Maybelline foundation in the Priceline 40% off cosmetics sale, and am now working my way through this newly preferred brand.

I’m also proud to say I’m getting dangerously close to using up a powder foundation that I’ve had in the cupboard since my university graduation in March 2014. I can see glimmers of the pan, and am dying for the day it is done and used, and I can commit to thoughtful contributions to my makeup collection. In addition to these itemised lists, I’ve also blasted through an entire cake of honey soap that is made in Australia (it was just beautiful), and am now smashing through a bottle of bodywash I received in a subscription box.

Clothing

In other facets of life, I also listed 31 items of clothes on eBay, sold 9, relisted 14 and donated 8. The most shameful thing about this eBay extravaganza is how disgustingly full my cupboard still is, and how not-lighter I feel despite this purge. These are always excellent times for some self-reflection on why you bought the stuff in the first place, and why it no longer brings you joy, then working out how to continue with refining your tastes, your spending, and yourself. I’m going to be doing another cull this coming weekend, which will both give me a cash diet appropriate activity, as well as hopefully increasing the amount of cash I have to spend in this month of poverty.

Generally I’ve felt super inspired after heading down the no-waste internet search spiral and am now constantly looking for ways to incorporate the principles of using what you have. It is a very slow process, but also deeply rewarding.

Empties

Otherwise dubbed (by me, anyway) as the life changing magic of using things up, the hashtag empties is one of the most soothing things on Instagram. I am obsessed with decluttering (and it’s counterpart, recluttering), but I often feel a deep sense of dissatisfaction with the degree of waste I see that accumulated in my life. This is why I’ve always favoured selling my things online; not only is it a nice side hustle, but I feel like the item is purchased because it is being used, not just being sent to rot in a Salvation Army store somewhere. 

This unfortunately doesn’t apply to beauty products. My poor mum has been the victim of many a well-intentioned clean out. As has the rubbish bin. But I am very proud to declare that today, I actually created my very own empty – I used up a Garnier hydrating face moisturiser all the way to the final gooey scoop.


And what is such a declaration without a photo to back it up? There it is, in all its glory, an extremely empty moisturiser container. 

I cannot even explain to you the sense of satisfaction that that container did not go to waste. When I was reaching the final dregs, I did resist the urge to just spread the stuff on every inch of my body, just to be done with the darn thing. But I reminded myself it was a game; a test of the deeper effects of delayed gratification and satisfaction in true consuming, not just waste. 

Of course, this is far from the only moisturiser in my cupboard. I can now move on to working my way through the next poor tub of goo, slowly but surely getting every drop and maximising it’s value. 

It’s weird – but I encourage you to scroll through the #empties on Instagram. Embrace the feeling of properly using something up, of pushing through the sense of boredom with what you have to learn to appreciate that you have it at all. Reflect on the joy or lack thereof it brought you when it’s done. And then say goodbye. 

While there is so much joy in a fresh start, there is great sense of self-discipline and achievement in seeing something to the end. And I believe that holds true, whether for a life altering path, or a small tub of moisturiser. And hey, you have to start that journey somewhere, right? 

Skin Overhaul

It was a typical Melbourne day in December, and I was walking through my own real life version of the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, going with my high school girlfriends to get our nails done in preparation for my best friend’s wedding that weekend. We had had every conversation under the sun, and still didn’t run out of things to talk about. And after talking boys, and reunions, and gossip, and weddings, and mothers in law, and dreams, we arrived at skin care. And praise the damn lord. The bride to be had the clearest skin on the planet, and I wanted in. Another girl spoke up, talking at great length about the intricacies of balanced and careful skin care, and we all got on board, ready to commence our skincare journeys, to say goodbye to caked layers of foundation and the seventeen-year-old-self shame of another red angry pimple exploding its way into the middle of my face.

I felt my skin had become exceptionally terrible since working full time, sitting in the harsh fluourescents and the constant air conditioning and the makeup and the bad food (probably all also attributable to the ever-growing flub around my bod). I gave my friend licence to instruct me what to do and when to do it, and now that I’m also wearing a pretty diamond on my left hand, she has been appointed official Wedding Skincare Consultant.

The goal: that I can walk down the aisle with skin so glowing it doesn’t need makeup.

The process: was kickstarted with many many text messages. I’ve shared the bespoke program designed by my ever-excellent Wedding Skincare Consultant below.

Stage One: Make-up be gone

We began with the fact that I am impossibly lazy and often don’t bother to remove my makeup at night (I know, I know, I’m awful). I was instructed to purchase Clinique’s Take The Day Off cleansing balm.

clinique_take_the_day_off_cleansing_balm_125ml_1410609848

The balm is used every night when removing my makeup (since I wear makeup every day). I use two fingers to scoop up some of the balm, rub it between my two forefingers, then gently rub it into my face using a circular motion. It is an extremely unattractive process as my mascara ends up all over my face, but I’m reassured that unlike all my other useless makeup removers, it actually gets rid of the mascara and all of the foundation. The balm is really gentle, so my skin also feels like it’s being cared for, unlike the alcohol-based removers I’ve used in the past.

Stage Two: Cleansers

Like many girls I know, I love a good trip to Priceline, an impulsive purchase of a set of three cleansers / toners / moisturisers that are on sale and in cute packaging, only to use it for a few days and let the set gather dust in the back of my cupboard. I’ve never dedicated much time or effort to consider the ingredients and what will best complement and service my skin. My all-knowing Wedding Skincare Consultant prescribed two cleansers to begin the skincare journey to glowing perfection: the Clinique Facial Soap in mild (not the foaming one) for the morning, and Neutrogena’s Deep Clean Cream Cleanser for night.

The Clinique facial soap is also available in extra-mild, but I figured my skin could do with a bit of extra help. It is a gel cleanser, which I was informed is best for the morning or after exercising, when you’re looking for your face to feel fresh and hydrated. I was also under strict instructions to avoid any gel cleanser with foaming, as it contains bad alcohols for the skin and dries you right out, doing you no favours when it comes to the later stages of skincare journeys in hydrating. I’ve used the facial soap every morning when in the shower (probably cheating, but it was the only way I could think of to build using the cleanser into my daily routine so I didn’t forget or get lazy), and definitely feel that it is refreshing and like my skin is actually getting a proper wash. My only gripe is the container I got has a fault pump, so I need to unscrew the lid and tip it into my hand. Once I’ve used up a body wash that has about six drops left, I’m planning on pouring it into that. I’ve been surprised by how bloody annoying this fault is, but obviously it isn’t insurmountable. I’ll just be paying more attention next time I purchase.

The evenings are for the cream cleanser. Potential products included the Neutrogena mentioned above, the Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser, La Roche-Posay Toleriane Dermo Cleanser, L’Oreal Age Perfect Cleanser Milk, CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser, Yes to Carrots Daily Cream Facial Cleanser or A’kin Pure Creamy Cleanser and Toner. My decision was based on the not particularly discerning process of selecting what was available in my closest Priceline. The purpose of selecting a cream cleanser for the evening was that (and I quote), ‘your skin has been out fighting the elements all day and it needs a hug and some loving in order to repair itself’. I use the Neutrogena cleanser after Taking Off The Day with my Clinique. The creaminess really does feel amazing after a long day, and I go to bed feeling like I’ve finally done my skin a favour.

Stage Three: Hydration

Now that I’d built the foundation of actually cleaning my face, we approached the more serious steps of addressing hydration. This is the real key to progressing in the skincar ejourney apparently – as no other issue can really be fixed until your skin is hydrated. The primary contributory factor to my failed skin is the pleasant office environment of too much air con and dry heat. This has caused my skin to lose all moisture and oils, then it has gone into overdrive producing more oil,. causing pimples. The dehydration can also be blamed for the fine lines all over my face (that plus the fact somehow I’m six months away from turning 27). I was prescribed Hydroluron by Indeed Labs, a serum that tackles dehydration.

hydraluron-serum_large

This product is super popular, so I wasn’t able to pick it up in any of the Pricelines in Perth CBD and instead ordered it online, most likely fuelling the reception’s thoughts that all I do all day is shop online. This serum locks in the hydration that comes from the moisturiser you have to apply afterwards. And I’m looking forward to saying goodbye to my annoying fine lines, and actually feeling like my skin likes me.

Stage four: Pimple zapping

Okay, I couldn’t actually think of the right title for this section. But this final product was purchased to help attacking the fact that pimples keep poking their way onto my face and making me feel irritated. Serozinc by La Roche-Posay is a toner that you spray on your face after cleansing, which helps skin heal and rejuvenate. I have ended up leaving mine in the kitchen since you can also spray on during the day if my skin is feeling hot or tired for some extra hydration over makeup – so now everytime I walk through the kitchen I see the blue bottle and give my skin a spritz.

la_roche_posay_serozinc_spray_150ml_1427888698

I have faithfully purchased every product, and committed to following my routine. I’m exceptionally proud of for the nights when I was too boozy to remove my contacts, but faithfully took off the day, thoroughly cleansed and moisturised. I never miss a morning cleanse, and generally I think I’m seeing some positive progress towards being that dreamy glowing bride I long for.

 

Keep an eye out for future stage installations and updates on my skincare journey!

Emily Ley Dapperdesk Planner Unboxing

From the second I saw the Emily Ley line of planners, mainly The Simplified Planner, on Instagram, I fell in love. The clean, crisp lay out, with tidy, well-organised font and luxe paper just spoke to me. The daily spread of half time/appointment-related information, and half to do list, with plenty of space, it’s perfectly with how I like to and choose to plan, and would alleviate the need for the more pain-staking approach of bullet journalling. The Simplified Planners were gorgeous, but I tend to prefer non-spiralbound style planners. So I sighed in relief that I was saving myself from another planner splurge, until I discovered the Dapperdesk range. 

Styled as more of a planner for him, the Dapperdesk planner is a leather-covered perfect bound planner, with all the same interiors as The Simplified Planner. I agonised for ages, but couldn’t justify the high price of shipping from US to Australia – so I was totally thrilled when my future in-laws generously splurged on the 2017 Dapperdesk planner for a very unique and special Christmas present.

Every little detail is so perfect that I had to share. The planner arrived in a gorgeous minimalist-style box. Be still my heart…


The soft brown leather with gold monogramming makes this one very classy planner. While the cute covers of The Simplified Planner are really fun, this style fits more with me generally, and will look really classy at work. 


The paper is an absolutely beautiful weight and quality, and I could take photos fast enough to get to the good part of writing. 

The inside covers are a lovely soft grey pattern.


And you can see the daily layout style in the picture below.


So clear and easy to populate! I find this layout really intuitive and gives a lot of options for the planner to function as a brain dump as well as something to actually help and assist. 

There are several lined pages at the back for notes. Despite keeping these to a minimum and reducing a lot of bulk with unnecessary introductory pages (again, so good), the planner is still chunky:


However the paper is absolutely stunning, and it felt really special to write on each page. 


What really works for me with the Emily Ley style planners is how you don’t feel a need to spend time decorating each page. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good stickering session as much as the next person, but I can find it impractical for my work and sometimes a beautiful layout does not necessarily go hand in hand with functionality.

So, that was a lot of pros! Beautiful quality, beautiful paper, beautiful presentation and beautiful layout.

The cons? This planner will set you back a cool $75USD + shipping (ouch). It is also quite large and bulky, so you either need to have a decent sized handbag, or know where this planner will be living permanently. I know some people find the hour-layout a bit restrictive and in that respect, it may not work for everyone in terms of customisation. 

But for me, this planner is about as close as it gets to perfect. I can already see myself coming back to this style year after year. 

I’d love your thoughts on the Emily Ley, and Dapperdesk in particular, planners.

Happy planning!

Month of Mindfulness

Well it’s been quiet around here hey?

Not to worry, I’m still alive, still chasing dreams and kicking goals, falling in a heap and dusting myself off again. It’s been a tumultuous time, but I’m feeling that spring in my step that comes with warmer weather (if you’re in the southern hemisphere), a great community and the start of a new month.

I’ve been inspired from an eye-opening PT session this morning to become more reflective. I love goals and chase down achievements, but often fail or forget to celebrate the past. If I want to continue to improve and strive, I need to use the well of experience that developed from my past successes and draw on it in times of weakness.

As a result, I am declaring November my month of mindfulness. I’ve fallen into a pretty awful rut lately of hating on work and life, and every time I begin to crawl out of it, the foothold crumbles and I’m back at the bottom. There is no quick fix to a rut with an absence of gratitude. However, if you plumb the depths of the internet, mindfulness has science (that’s right guys, science) on its side, proving over and over again how cultivating a habit of mindfulness, and a mindfulness of the good things, overcomes an unhealthy obsession with the bad.

This month of mindfulness is a little spur of the moment, but I’m committing to the following:

  • A daily guided meditation with Headspace.
  • Following the five minute journal guide as soon as I arrive at work, and right before I got home.
  • Catching myself complaining: when I feel myself spiralling (probably around a thousand times a day), employing three deep breaths as a circuit-breaker.
  • Setting up my own gratitude jar.

And that’s it! It’s simple, but I’m done with spinning my wheels, and it’s time to take action. While I typically like to beat myself up with hate and push myself to do something ridiculous, this time, I’m looking for something more survivable.

Have you tried a month of mindfulness before, or have any mindfulness practices that you swear by? Let me know in the comments 🙂

 

Water Challenge: 17 day Wrap-Up

I’ve posted a little about my August goal of drinking a gallon of water a day. It’s 17 days in, and I’m extremely shocked that I continue to be on an almost perfect streak.

To hit the goal, I have been using my bullet journal to track daily the number of Kor water bottles I knock back. To hit a gallon, I need to drink five. The fact this bottle is so beautiful definitely helps me remember to put it to work. I left it at the gym once, and left work early to go look for it because I was so distraught.

kor20one20water20bottle20-20750ml20sea20spray20christmas20gifts20ko807se64xjj

The Kor One bottle that goes everywhere with me.

As I reported in my week one wrap-up, drinking this much water makes you pee a lot. This is not all bad – if I wasn’t getting up to pee, I’d spend my entire day sitting on my butt, staring at my computer. This is not a side-effect that has gone away, but I’m not hating it as much. This is also assisted by the fact my office is conveniently near the bathrooms, so I’m not feeling the eyes of the office on me as I trudge to the bathroom for the one thousandth time.

I’ve dropped a little weight, although I would credit this more to starting the Sweat with Kayla app than drinking water – but all of it counts! Weirdly my skin is still not smooth, but I did take a before selfie and I’m crossing my fingers a face-by-face compare will show more results than my very judgmental eyes.

The biggest change I’m noticing is how I turn to water when I have a craving for something. Craving chocolate? Have some water. Craving a hot bowl of cheesey pasta for lunch? Have some water. Craving a coffee? Have some water. A few minutes later I find the craving goes away, and I’m generally feeling much better for it. This has highlighted to me how much health is a mind-game, and how necessary it is to have tools at your disposal to combat moments of weakness. While I’m definitely not against treating yourself or depriving yourself, I do believe in building self-discipline to know the right thing for you. Learning that drinking water addresses the root of many cravings for me is a really big step in my journey to find better balance. I’m looking forward to expanding on that knowledge and finding other tools to help me address cravings and indulgences when they aren’t what I want in the long term. The other big bonus is this saves me a tonne of money I would otherwise fritter away on the vending machine that’s dangerously close to my desk!

Only 13 days left of this challenge officially, but I don’t see it being a habit I want to give up. While there’s definitely no magic in drinking exactly a gallon a day, drinking more water can only be a benefit, and the concrete goal and internal peace I feel about the number five (completely unexplainable but completely there) is helping me keep it up.

The Power of Just Doing It

I’ve been realising more and more that the key ingredient to success is slugging it out despite desperately not wanting to. 

Looking at how badly you don’t want to do something on your to do list, and thinking how awful it will be, then diving head first in and just doing it.

Thinking of all the excuses you have, setting fire to that list (figuratively or literally) and doing it. 

Considering all the ways you could palm it off and then just getting it done. 

And suddenly, when you do it – it’s done. 

The weight lifts off, the fear melts away, your mind clears and your heart sings a little. Your focus narrows, your motivation soars and your joy rises. 

It’s a special kind of magic because you can draw on it everyday.

Just do it. 

27 by 27

The day I have been reminding the boyf about every five minutes for the last week is here – my 26th birthday! Each year I think I will become less fuss-obsessed but the reality is, I just love birthdays. All birthdays – family, friends, and of course, mine 😉 I love celebrations and a chance to recognise how much someone means to me. I love buying (or making!) thoughtful gifts and writing cards. And I love cake. Duh.

A big part of that birthday fuss love fest is the chance to take stock of where I’m at across the core pillars of personal relationships, professional life, financial life and wellness generally. These categories wax and wane each year, but the key theme is that they are pillars to which I reflect on how far I’ve come and to which I can tie new goals.

I have loved my 25th year. It has felt like a whirlwind, but in the best way. I settled into my baby city apartment. I settled into my first official law firm job, and was admitted to the legal practice. I did my first Ironman 70.3. I went to Trinidad and Tobago for an amazing wedding. I opened my first business in the form of a little etsy store! And created a local fitness program for young lawyers. I found ways to say no to things that didn’t fit into my values. I built up some really powerful female friendships and feel inspired and empowered everyday when I spend time with those women. I did my first set of push-ups on my toes. I competed as a national semifinalist in a mooting competition.I’ve stuck to a budget (well, mostly). I made my first commissioned crochet blanket! I’ve begun to distill that which I love about life.

The boyf and I hiked and bonded and found a really great life rhythm together. We struggled through visa woes and job-related sucker punches. We each said goodbye to a grandparent. We supported each other through new starts and complicated times. We started working out together. We began to seriously plan for the future while recognising our future is forever warping and that our hearts are forever spread across two continents. 

And there really is so little more I could ask for. But at my core I am a goal-setter. It is my most favourite of all my hobbies and one of the habits that defines me. As I begin my 26th year, I have set 27 goals to hit (or progress!) before I turn 27. Generally I set hundreds of goals, and life helps me drill down to those that matter most – so it may be that reality gets in the way of some of these. But that’s okay. They reflect my values as I stand here now, freshly 26 and freshly embarking on part 2 of my twenties. 

1. Open an index fund.

2. Open a second facet of my business.

3. Publish another article.

4. Apply to masters at Georgetown.

5. Do a pull up.

6. Finish an ironman 70.3 in 6.5 hours.

7. Maintain this blog and continue to grow my readership.

8. Participate in one handmade market.

9. Make one amigurumi toy.

10. Read 10 books.

11. Go hiking in the Stirling Ranges.

12. Plug in to the Perth female small business community.

13. Write 15 pen pal letters.

14. Learn brush lettering.

15. Volunteer at one big local event.

16. Participate in a national mooting competition.

17. Watch one documentary on a completely unfamiliar topic.

18. Do a handstand.

19. Build a stronger relationship with my family.

20. Save $30,000.

21. Reduce belongings by 25%.

22. Finish project life scrapbooks for 2015 and 2016.

23. Settle as a litigator.

24. Find a flow around our home.

25. Develop my meditation practice.

26. Find peace with food.

27. Embody the spark joy mentality.

There is one secret goal life event for this year I haven’t included – mainly because it is one I have no control over. But I’m positively buzzing for this year of life! Thank you for sharing in it. Now – time for cake.

The Magic of Meditation

Patience is most definitely not one of my virtues. I’m a go big and go hard right now kind of person. I also find myself regularly plagued with worry at night – starting with something small, like whether I filed something, and snowballing in to what on earth I’m going to do with my entire life and will I ever find true joy in my career and family and…

You get it. Anyway these thoughts are very much not conducive to a good night’s sleep. I go through cycles of sleeping through the night, then lying awake between 1.30-4.30 in a total flap, incapable of going back to sleep, and the frustration of that truth chasing me around in circles while the minutes rock freakishly closer to work wake-up call.

The irregular insomnia has plagued me for years and I’ve tried all sorts of things: magnesium tablets, getting out of bed and sitting in another room until I feel sleepy, reading, being on my phone (admittedly my default state), I begged a doctor for sleeping pills (no dice), doing some light stretches, lying with my eyes closed and slowly willing each body part from my toes to my head to sleep. Once I tried counting sheep which felt completely idiotic.

None worked and I resigned myself to being inconsistently a grump from no sleep. Friends of mine didn’t understand how I get through days at the firm after a night of tossing and turning, but the reality was I simply had to get on with it because I didn’t think I could change.

At a brunch a friend began telling me about how she’d commenced a meditation club at work. It was borne out of her new meditation practice, motivated by her brother who had been meditating to help calm him. She had found the practice so simple and beneficial that she wanted to share it. Upon hearing how I would sleep through maybe 2-4 nights of the week, she became evangelical about meditating before bed, and the headspace app particularly. 

As one always open to new apps and new crazy things, I gave it a shot. I had the app ready to go as I got into bed for the evening. Officially you’re supposed to sit somewhere quiet but I just listened while lying in bed, and followed the quiet instructions of Andy. I slept like a baby, a real deep sleep. And it worked over and over and over again. 

I’ve been on and off meditating before bed for a few months. While it isn’t a 100% success rate, it’s pretty close. I find my sleep to be infinitely more restful after using headspace than when I play around on Instagram before bed. I’ve had the free pack on repeat, and it is part of my habit building to make meditating before bed an effortless part of my routine.

There are so many apps out there for meditating, or you can just listen to music and find some peace. Whatever works for you. The benefits are undoubtedly great across many facets of life – for me, it has brought healing into my sleep, which I thought was beyond repair. For others it brings peace at work, or stronger focus. It’s life-changing. I couldn’t recommend it more. 

Inbox Zero

One of the most important habits I’ve implemented in both my personal and work email is reaching Inbox Zero on a daily basis. Email is an integral element of communication and identification now. And as a direct result of using your email as your identity for anything and everything, your email is a hot spot for serious clutter. Since getting rid of clutter is basically the ultimate unicorn goal of life, I wanted to share some useful tips in reaching Inbox Zero yourself.

Unroll.Me

I definitely struggled most with keeping my personal inbox at zero. I attribute this to a lot of things – but mainly that my personal email is just the place where every single online store registration, pointless competition or scoopon advertising email hides and multiplies. I tried the unsubscribe button, but I never seemed to clear all the junk that was already sitting in my inbox, until a colleague told me about Unroll.Me. Once you create an account, Unroll.Me scans your inbox and comes up with a list of all your email subscriptions. You can then go through and select to unsubscribe, keep in inbox or ‘roll up’ – that is, include that as part of a single summary email sent to you each day that gives a quick snapshot of all the emails you’ve expressed an interest in still viewing, without needing to see as a stand-alone item.

If you delete the roll-up email, but want to see what you received that day, you can check out your daily roll up on the Unroll.Me website once you’ve logged in. It’s a really accessible and usable interface, and you can check your past allocations of different lists in unsubscribe, roll up or keep, and change them if need be. To date, I’ve unsubscribed to 261 lists, rolled up 98 lists and kept only 45 lists in my inbox. That means I now receive at most 3 emails a day directly to my inbox, and I can quickly deal with them. My roll up email I receive each morning requires a quick scan of content and is quickly archived. All other emails are read and dealt with, or archived.

Maximise the app functionality

Until it was tragically discontinued, I used the Mailbox app administered by the same team that runs Dropbox. It was a magical app that used the swipe functionality of a smartphone to allow you to quickly and easily sort your emails – whether to delete them, mark as unread, get ‘sent’ to you again at a later date (basically reappear as though they were a new email on the day or a few days before they were actually relevant – great for concert tickets), or get filed away. As an extra bonus, every time you cleared to zero, you got a new daily picture. It was a magical time.

Although Mailbox is gone, the inbuilt Mail app on iPhones now has a lot of the functionality that Mailbox offered, including the ability to easily sort with a swipe. I find dealing with gmail on a laptop or desktop surprisingly clunky as you can’t just drag emails – you need to click to select, then move to folders (although I acknowledge this may be my lack of understanding of how gmail works…). Using the swipe functions is quick, simple, and intuitive, and can be done almost anywhere you go with your phone (which for me, is basically anywhere on this earth).

Rules

Setting up Outlook rules has been critical to maintaining my work email at Inbox Zero. I have no idea how to do them in google, but setting it up in Outlook is a quick process through the help icon. As a result, you can direct all your outside work / personal emails straight to the personal folder, avoiding awkward moments when your boyfriend emails you something ridiculous while your partner is in your office. And you can save yourself from that low-level stress that comes with flagging emails in your core inbox and never dealing with them – the emails are automatically sorted and listed as unread, and you can check the individuals folders as and when necessary.

I recommend starting with setting up rules for friends or family you email often in a non-professional capacity, redirecting those emails straight to a Personal folder. Then you can start playing with rules for certain types of emails you get regularly for certain projects that don’t require immediate attention.

Setting up a simple system of local folders

At work we have an integrated online document management system, which makes filing matter-specific folders very seamless. However, email is rarely limited to work-only matters, and it’s important to have a simple set of folders for filing emails you want or need to keep. I have 15 local folders set up to capture personal emails and non-billable project-specific emails. 15 is definitely more than I would like, but somehow I have quite a few projects going on. The benefit of Outlook is the powerful search function which allows you to find things quickly no matter where they are, so your folders can be more generic. I just haven’t overcome a compulsion to have a separate folder for each project, rather than more over-arching concepts like ‘Community Projects’ and ‘Yoga’.

Use those dead five minutes towards the end of the day

You know the ones I’m talking about. When you have Ctrl+Tab+Facebook’d on autopilot a couple of times and read a few articles blowing hot air on the latest non-issue (usually someone’s completely pointless faux-authoritative opinion on parenting, veganism or millenials), and it isn’t quite time to start work on something new, or there’s no motivation to finish something off…or you’re just in that delightful stage of CBF. Take just one minute to clear out all the emails in your core in box that you’ve dealt with, or don’t need to deal with any longer. Be ruthless with the delete key, and drag and dump the save-worthy emails into your local files. Only leave in your inbox what must absolutely be left behind. Challenge yourself to keep at 3 items or less.

These tips merged between personal and work inbox – which I tend to recognise as personal = gmail and work = Outlook. However, the key thing to come out of it is discipline. It is great to deal with your emails as and when you read them. But you only need to commit to once a day, getting rid of (either deleting or filing) everything that no longer needs to be front of mind, being those emails in your core inbox.

As you get into the habit of maintaining Inbox Zero, you’ll find that your stress levels lower as you aren’t faced with a scary pile of unfiled documents and uncertain locations. You’ll also find you don’t waste time looking at useless subscription emails who only aim to sell you stuff and steal your money, under the premise of a ‘once in a lifetime sale!’. They’re lying. It’ll be back. And you won’t need that sale – now or later.

All you need is to commit just a small part of your day to achieving a clutter-free inbox, and you’ll reap the benefits of a less cluttered mind.