I'm horrible at responding to texts. Half of the texts I send begin, "Ahhh I'm sorry I never responded!" Usually, I'll open my phone, read the text, think of a response but also think "I'll respond to that later!" then... not respond to it later. It's a combination of the fact that I put my phone down in the evenings, have the memory of a gnat, and get distracted easily. But it also isn't okay. Not only is it rude, since it comes off as flippant, but I sometimes miss plans and important texts.
In September, I read an interview with actor Jonathan Groff that contained a line that resonated with me so much, I couldn't stop thinking about it:
In behavior that reminds me of both a secret agent and Kim Kardashian, he regularly goes through and deletes all his texts after responding to each of them. “I want to make sure I get back to everyone,” he says, holding his iPhone up in front of me to reveal the remarkably few surviving messages.
Secret agent or not, the idea is so simple: Treat your texts like an inbox. Ever since getting back from the holidays, I've been deleting texts I've already responded to, just like the "Archive" button I love so much in my Gmail.
The downsides are obvious: You can't reference past texts or have access to the photos in them. It also takes a bit of time to set up. I had to delete texts from a year back, and it took an eternity to swipe "Delete," then confirm, but it's the perfect activity while, say, watching Pilot Pete.
But there are also some unexpected upsides: I had completely underestimated how much the texts I'd forgotten to respond to were weighing on me, subconsciously. I constantly felt bad once I realized a week had passed since replying to a friend's suggestion of a drinks date. It feels so much better to just respond right away, then delete (I mean is there anything better than the "Inbox Zero"?). I also have more storage on my phone, and as I deleted past texts, I remembered how many people I've been overdue to reach out to.