Photo: Alexei Kuznetsov via Flickr
A few months back, an app developer friend asked me to beta test his new friend-management tool for Facebook… I think you can guess where this is going. Overnight I noticed about 90 friends had vanished. By the time the weekend hit, I’d unintentionally divested myself of about another 200 online friends. By the time I figured out how to safely delete the program, I was down about 550 friends.
It was weird, but who are we kidding, how many genuine friends do you really have on social media? Weirder yet was the fact that I didn’t notice who was missing for quite a while. By then, I realized it was more of a relief not to have to keep track of people I didn’t much care about.
All this got me thinking about what’s important in life, and what we should delete without looking back.
Even if you’re not a hoarder by nature, these are some things it’s time to let go of:
1. Does it spark misery?
In her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Japanese decluttering guru Marie Kondo advises readers to rid themselves of objects that no longer spark joy in their lives. Many argue that she’s taken it too far, in basically advising people to get rid of any clutter, knickknacks, or clothing to the point of being a total ascetic.
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Let’s flip that notion on its ear for a moment and find a way to rid ourselves of things that make us gnash our teeth or remember awful things.
Do you have a pen that your former boss gave you… right before she fired you? What about your resume that still lists that job that destroyed your career or email signature that has your ex’s last name instead of the one you use now?
Just hit delete, take it to the trash, reset or otherwise allow yourself to eliminate the reminders of moments or people you’d prefer to forget.
2. Manage your mess
It’s a little bit weird that most of us brag about how many unanswered emails we have in our inbox at any given time; so, what about trying to make your inbox work for you instead of finding workarounds to that overcrowded space?
Nicholas Reichenbach, Founder, and CEO of Flow Water, said that instead of worrying about what to hold onto, perhaps it’s better to rethink the way you use your email. “The key is to use your inbox as a ‘to do’ list with all current emails representing an action required by me or others. The rest of the emails are immediately filed under key business activities (such as accounting, sales, marketing, etc.) or deleted,” Reichenbach said.
“I never go one night with my inbox not up to date; and all messaging have been read, filed or deleted,” Reichenbach added. He says his method is highly effective for managing 150-200 emails and never missing a beat on important and rapid communication.
3. Don’t be on fleek
While there are some catchphrases and expressions that are instant classics, others can make you seem like you’re trying way too hard. Just because you read it in Teen Vogue or The New Yorker, doesn’t mean that the latest cool expression belongs in your updated vernacular.
Pay close attention to the way your colleagues or boss react when you slip a word into conversation. Are you faced with blank stares or sneers? It’s time to cut back on the hipsterisms and pay closer attention to the way people at your age or stage actually speak.
4. Fly guys or girls
In a recent Women in the Workplace video on WSJ.com, a linguist tackled the issue of Creaky Phonation, AKA Vocal Fry, the style of talking in which you sort of crunch or sound creaky at the end of sentences. And while people can identify the trend in both men or women’s voices, it was perceived more negatively in women’s voices, especially in the workplace.
It’s one thing to try to affect more of a regional sound or dialect, quite another to take on a manner of speaking that mimics Kardashians and irritates potential employers.
So, if frying is your affectation of choice, perhaps it’s time to let it go the way of uptalking. Away. Far, far away.
Some years back I felt extremely adored when a British colleague ended his email with his initial followed closely by an ‘x.’ A bit later I realized that I probably should have been insulted that there was only one; and for the few months we worked together I started counting email kisses. These days, x’s and o’s are pretty much every day sign offs in some industries.
Others consider including smileys, or other emoji to be just fine on all manner of correspondence, but before you assume that it’s okay to send your boss a happy face, take a moment to think about whether it diminishes your message or overall professionalism.
While it might be entirely acceptable to start an email to a stranger with “Hi, love” if you work in beauty PR, it could come across as a form of harassment in a more buttoned-down industry.