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April 5, 2011

Dr. Zasio of Hoarders Answers Your Spring Cleaning Questions

Dr. Robyn Zasio, of A&E’s hit T.V. show Hoarders, sat down with us to discuss spring cleaning, email inboxes and the “terrifying” epidemic that is email inbox hoarding. If you have questions that you’d like to address to Dr. Zasio, you can do so on the Hotmail Facebook Wall from today April 05 through Thursday April 07 as part of our Hotmail Sweep Contest. If you haven’t already entered the contest with your messiest desk, do so now!

Dr Zasio

Is there anything unique to a digital hoarder’s mindset that sets them apart from hoarding items in, say, the home?

There can be a tendency to rationalize and justify all the emails because they are on a computer and it’s not hurting anyone else, unlike family members who have to live in the hoard and are personally impacted by it on a daily basis.
Email hoarders can spend more time interacting in their emails, exploring and reading them, versus hoarders in the home who typically spend time navigating how to get from place to place, and don’t actually interact with their stuff that is piled high and much of which is not accessible.
Email hoarders may have more social contacts and interactions, versus hoarders in the home who may be isolating in the hoard which can prevent people from coming over due to the home being inaccessible. There is also a lot of shame, guilt and embarrassment the person who hoards experiences, so they will not have people over to avoid these feelings being activated.

Is a cluttered inbox truly a problem of hoarding, or is it more to do with the sheer volume of email people receive each day?

I believe that the impact of clutter and even hoard varies from person to person.  Some people are going to the purgers, because they just can’t stand having their email box with anything other than that which is truly necessary, finding relief in getting rid of them. For others, they can be comfortable with a level of clutter, perhaps randomly going in and cleaning things up as they are able. When we are dealing with email hoarding, there is a feeling of fear and anxiety associated with letting go of the emails, just in case they may need them in the future, have to access them, and feel the need to ensure that they are accessible.

What can a person, who is prone to letting email stack up, do to manage their inbox? Can they change their mindset in some way? Use Hotmail more effectively?

Some of this I have discussed, however, here is a more comprehensive list:
1. Take the time to learn how to use your email system (hopefully Hotmail).  Learning about it’s features and how you can make your account work for you can help you to make navigating your emails, contacts, and so forth, more efficient.  And. referring specifically to Hotmail, there are so many features that allow you to streamline the time you spend in your email account, such as Hotmail Highlights, 1-Click Filters, Microsoft Smartscreen, Sweep, and many others.
2. Committ to a regular schedule to go in to your email account and address those emails that need attention and  purge those that don’t.
3. Don’t procrastinate!! Many people get overwhelmed with too many emails coming in so they avoid dealing with them.  You save time in the moment by going through them, rather than putting them off, which then increases them in volume, causes more overwhelm, and then more of a tendency to avoid. 
4. Delete out old contacts.
5. Block websites that have  your email address that are advertising or trying to sell you something, old newletters, advertising, and so forth.

If you haven’t already registered for the Hotmail Sweep Twitter Party, do so now by clicking here. Plus follow all the fun on Twitter via @kristinalibby, @winlisamommy and @jensinger!