If You Don’t Save It Now, You Won’t Have to Release It Later

Life is a balance between holding on and letting go.
– Rumi

I wake up one morning and can’t find it anywhere. It’s missing.

My To Do email folder is gone. It’s disappeared, no longer in my sidebar of folders on my computer email.

I panic.

This is bad. Very bad. My To Do email folder is my digital holding place. It’s where I transfer emails that need more time from me, things for later, not now.

Maybe you know the type of things:

  • A newsletter with links I want to click…later
  • A Kohl’s coupon I might want to use…later
  • An AT&T bill that needs double-checking…later
  • A library book hold I need to decide about…later
  • A video I want to watch…later

I like having a To Do folder as much as I like having a To Do list. It’s a place to set things down. Get them out of my brain but still in a retrievable place. It’s like that flat surface in the kitchen where we set down unread mail or a pack of gum or a form that needs returning.

These items gather on our counters and in corners and closets. They are the “I don’t know yet” things. We’ll need them later. Or we think we might.

We mainly just don’t want to deal with them right now.

So we set them aside.

It clears our brain to know these items are safely preserved for later, but don’t have to be dealt with this moment.

But when the whole stack just disappears, like my To Do email folder? I can immediately envision all the things that I’ll forget I needed to do.

I google what to do when an email folder disappears. Maybe I’ve been hacked? I change my google password everywhere, just to be safe.

I check my phone email. I catch a quick glimpse of the folder (it’s there!??), but watch it then disappear before my eyes as the mail app updates to sync with my computer. No!

Then I start looking at other email folders, one by one. Will they start disappearing too? They don’t.

That’s when I notice something strange. In my Blog Stuff email folder, there is something suspicious. Another folder is embedded in this folder.

It’s my To Do folder!

I open it up. All my emails are still there. Whew! I must have moved the folder there by mistake the day before. I now move the folder back to its regular position in the stack.

But do I do anything with any of the To Do emails? Nope. Just a quick glance to assure myself they will still open.

Yet I was so concerned about losing them. Why, if I don’t care to use them?

That’s a question I’ve asked myself often during this year of Release for me. I hate to lose what I already have. It’s human. It’s actually even scientifically proven. Once we’ve been gifted even a free tote bag we’ll never use, we’re reluctant to let it go once it becomes “mine.”

So what about all the other things I’m not using (like most of the emails in my To Do folder)? If’ I’d never saved them (or “owned” them) in the first place, would I go out of my way to hunt down this information?

Most of the time, no.

Cutting the cord to things we’re attached to is never easy. But maybe life would be easier in the long run if we attach to less things in the short run.

Maybe that’s one huge lesson of RELEASE for me: Stop saving unneeded things in the first place. Don’t try to own things I won’t use or don’t need. End the pileups. Then I won’t have to let them go later.

Granted, the hard part is the first everyday decision with each email, each item, each opportunity.

  • Keep or throw away?
  • Store or delete?
  • Buy or pass by?

But using clearer discernment in the beginning might reduce the losses in the end. Time is short. More presence now produces less burdens later.

That doesn’t mean we don’t hold on to important things; we need to do that. And when we’re not sure, it’s safer to keep something, to wait and see, instead of immediately tossing it. God will guide us.

I look at my freshly restored To Do emails now with fresh eyes.

Maybe I shouldn’t have even saved most of them in the first place. Do I really need an email telling me about the latest British TV series recommended by the Holstee newsletter (that I’ll never watch anyway)? No. I can delete that email now. And another email. And another.

I want to do myself a favor this week. At least when it comes to email, I’ll try not to save unnecessary ones. I’ll release them up front.

My future self will thank me later.

If you don't save it now, you won't have to release it later.


What have you had to release this year? Share in the comments.

More posts here on RELEASE.

One Word Release 2022

14 thoughts on “If You Don’t Save It Now, You Won’t Have to Release It Later

  1. Tanya @ Mom's Small Victories

    I so agree, it’s the whole deal with it right away if it takes less than 2 minutes concept like suggested in one of my favorite productivity books, Getting Things Done and another about putting digital in the place where your future self will look for it from another favorite, Building a Second Brain.

    Stopping by from Anything Goes link party, have a great week!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Getting Things Done is one of my all-time favorite productivity books! I haven’t heard of the Building a Second Brain so I must go look for that one now. Thanks, Tanya!

  2. Lois Flowers

    I can relate to this: “Once we’ve been gifted even a free tote bag we’ll never use, we’re reluctant to let it go once it becomes ‘mine.'” And I’m thinking you are on to something here: “Maybe life would be easier in the long run if we attach to less things in the short run.” Thanks so much for this post, Lisa. You’re giving all of us permission to release things right along with you. [Perhaps I should hire you to clean out my email files. They are so far out of control I just ignore it. :-)]

  3. Barbara Harper

    I’m getting better about getting rid of things right off the bat if I am pretty sure I’ll never use/read them. But I still have boxes from our last move that I haven’t opened and pages of links that I have forgotten why I’ve saved and don’t have time to sort through. Actually, it’s those boxes and stacks and lists that motivate me not to add to them.

  4. Joan (Jo)

    This one made me smile… Maybe I can relate?? I don’t save a lot of tangible “stuff” – if I haven’t worn it, loved it or used it in a year…out it goes. However… items on my computer? That’s a different story! I “favorite” so many things and then my bookmark list is so long that I end up just “Googling” what I want to read again. I also flag emails that are important. Or, at least I think are important… until I have so many flagged emails I can’t find what I’m looking for anyway! Oh, and here’s a good one: I have an iPhone. On it there is a “reminders” app. Sometimes (ok… often) I make a reminder for something I NEED to check on later. I put the reminder on “daily”. So, then, each day, when the reminder faithfully pops up on my phone, I simply delete it, knowing I’ll get another reminder the next day! LOL You are right. We need to release things more often. Hmmm. I think I need to set a reminder to myself to release my bookmarks…

  5. Lesley

    I’m glad you found your email folder, but I agree, it’s easy to hold onto far too much unnecessary stuff. I’m always reluctant to get rid of emails or to give things away in case I might need them later, but it’s rare that I do. I’d like to get better at not taking so much on in the first place.

  6. Lynn

    “More presence now produces less burdens later.” So true! I just released a “someday item” I hadn’t used for at least a year. Afterwards, I found myself questioning if I should have kept it! But why? It has gone to a seniors home that will for sure enjoy it and get used! Releasing things can be hard. Also, noticing a tightness in my chest whenever I open my email box, I realized all the “I will get to emails” are causing me stress, so I have unsubscribed to many lists. Yes, I do believe your future (and today’s) self will thank you!

  7. Lisa Blair

    This is sage advice, Lisa, “If you don’t save it now, you won’t have to release it later.” I’m doing that with the regular mail, but only half implementing it with my emails. I definitely have room to improve!

  8. Jean Wise

    good thoughts. I call it pitting things int o the parking lot for later and I would panic if I lost my files, my to do’s list, my notes. Love this life lesson!

  9. Joanne Viola

    Lisa, this post brought such a smile. Earlier last week, I cleaned up a pile of “saved” things on my counter. Trust me – it was a pile! Or maybe more than one pile. When my husband came home that night, he asked where it all had gone. I pointed to the recycling bin. This >> “Stop saving unneeded things in the first place.” And that is exactly what I am doing now. Makes for less work later on. Love that you shared this lesson with us all!

  10. Maree Dee

    I have to tell you, as I read your words, I began to panic. My heart was racing. I would be lost if I lost that folder. And I have to admit I will never get a chance to get to the bottom of many of my folders. I, too, will be diligent this week in trying only to keep what I need. Great wisdom. I am pinning our post to my “Featured Grace & Truth Link-Up” board.

  11. Paula Short

    Oh my. You got me here. sounds alot like me. And this>”Cutting the cord to things we’re attached to is never easy. But maybe life would be easier in the long run if we attach to less things in the short run.” Made my heart race. These are great questions to ask ourselves and take inventory of.
    Thank you so much for sharing this with Sweet Tea & Friends this month.

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