Saturday, June 25, 2016

In Praise of the Empty Inbox

I've decided that it doesn't take much to make me happy.  It's usually a seemingly insignificant daily routine or maybe a series of small choices that all add up, leaving body / soul / mind unencumbered and allowing me to live at my best and healthiest.

I do dislike that sense of overwhelm that comes with a collision of undone tasks, unexpected huge life events, an overstuffed calendar, and far too many major decisions coming at me full force all at once.

Like most introverts, I function at my finest when I'm not on overload.  

You, too?

As much as possible, I design my life to keep that from happening, and in doing so, leave plenty of space for those surprises {good and not-so-much} that God allows to come down the pike with regularity.

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Keeping my email inbox just about empty has become one of those non-negotiables in my life.

I don't do much at all with social media, so email's a primary communication tool for me, a lifeline, really.  Soon after I pray myself awake each morning, I check to see what's come in during the night.  And it's right then and there that I take care of business.

My goal?

To handle each note just once.

And this is what's working for me ...




>  I scan the inbox and delete each and every bit of correspondence that I just don't care about.  An ad from a store I love but won't visit this week.  A bi-monthly newsletter here, an update from some organization there.  I'm not ready to unsubscribe from this stuff, but I don't need to read every update that comes my way.  Click, click, click ... and it's all outta there.

>  Responding to notes from clients is a priority.  There might be a request for a session, a change in appointment time, or a quick question to answer.  I answer right then and there, and then send her request into the client file for confidential safekeeping.

>  When you leave a comment on this blog, it comes to my inbox where I'll read your kind words and then hit the PUBLISH button.  Presto, your valued insights join the conversation and then I delete the notice that Blogger sent my way.  {I handle comments this way because there's enough surprises in life without going to your own online space only to find that unwanted obscene callers have somehow made their unpleasant presence known.}

>  I check out what family and friends have to say.  If I've got a quick response, I'll do it right away and then delete the note, unless it's one of those save-able treasures.  In that case, I'll tuck it in the file that bears their name / category for safekeeping.

>  I take a few minutes with Henri Nouwen's daily meditation.  And then I send Henri on his way 'til tomorrow by deleting the day's offering.

>  Receipts, acknowledgements, warranties, info-to-save goes straight to the receipt file.

>  If some kind of mail comes through that I'm not interested in, I'll hit the unsubscribe button at the bottom of the email right then and there.  And then toss the uninvited communique in the trash.

What's left?  A few notes that need some kind of more thoughtful response, which I aim to do at some point in the next day or so.  And then those emails get deleted or filed in the appropriate spot.

{By the way, yes, email / texting are super efficient ways to share information.  But I've learned the hard way that typing on a keyboard or tapping on a screen can lead to potentially volatile discussions that probably could have been avoided if they had taken place in person.  It's way too easy to be misunderstood, your efforts backfiring because voices aren't heard or body language remains hidden.  Trust me, important conversations are much better done either face-to-face or voice-to-voice.}  

Just like the snail mail that comes to the mailbox at the end of my driveway, my aim is to handle each piece of mail once, twice if need be.  If a message is important enough to keep, I'm going to make that happen as soon as possible by sending it right on over to the appropriate file.  It's not going to sit around, taking up that valuable visual real estate on my screen ... or perhaps more importantly, in my head.

I've got more significant things to fill that space with.

You, too?

Your inbox.  Love it or hate it?  Let's talk ... I'd love to hear what's working for you!






* * *  July 8 update - Don't miss the follow-up post, Oh NO ... She Lost ALL Her Email!!

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visiting with Holley

40 comments:

  1. Computers and modern technology are very complicated. My life was better in the olden days when I used parchment paper or goat skins and a quill to write.

    When I got a computer at home, where I do most of my work, a techy guy showed me the INBOX on the screen and said it will say "You've got mail" when someone writes to me. For a week I kept going out to the mail box in the garden every few minutes and found it empty, even though the INBOX said I've got mail. Eventually the techy guy showed me how to "click" on the INBOX to read my mail. By then I had over 500 messages.

    Also I don't like it when I DELETE a message and it does not vanish but it goes in a file called DELETE and I have to go there and delete it again. Can you imagine if other appliances did this to you? You wash your clothes. The washing machine bleeps that it finished its wash cycle and then tells you "I didn't REALLY wash your clothes. You have to wash them again!" Why doesn't DELETE mean DELETE?

    I have decided to get rid of my computer once and for all and from now on work on a laptop.

    And one more thing ... I hate these smart phones which do lots of things you don't expect phones to do. What's so smart about that? My phone takes photos. Every time it rings I press the wrong button and take a photo of my ear!

    God bless.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah yes, Victor ... you've unearthed the missing parchment, goat skins, and quills!

      Suddenly life doesn't seem all that complex anymore.

      ;-}

      Delete
    2. Such humor made me laugh out loud. Thank you.

      Delete
    3. Yeah, that Victor keeps on keeping things light around here! Lord knows we all need to laugh a whole lot more!

      ;-}

      Delete
  2. Sounds like you have a great system, Linda! I need to delete a lot more than I do :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Let's hear it for less information overload!

      ;-}

      Delete
  3. Great minds think alike!

    :)

    I do exactly what you do -- I love my empty Inbox!

    Blessings,
    Pam

    {via email}

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I knew I couldn't be the only one, Pam ...

      ;-}

      Delete
  4. Linda, I'm exactly like you when it comes to my inbox. I can't stand for things to pile up! Usually take care of the overnight stuff in the early morning and save anything I want to read in earnest for later in the day when the coffee has had plenty of time to kick in (usually blogs or news videos - I can't bear sound on my computer before 10 in the morning. Lol!)
    Oh, and I meant to share this - I ordered The Listening Life and am looking forward to reading it. I'll let you know what I think.
    Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hear ya' ... maybe there's more of us out there than I thought! We're tired of the clutter in our homes, our heads, our screens.

      Cool!

      Please let me know what you think of the book, ok?

      Thanks!

      Delete
  5. Yes, this is what I need to do, but I'm not completely successful. I am currently trying to delete as much as I can the first time I see things and then, during my weekly review, either categorize or delete the rest. It's a work in progress.

    Joy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Joy ... I think you hit the nail on the head in trying to delete as much as you can the first time you see things. Maybe that opens a path that enables us somehow to take care of the other stuff more quickly.

      Baby steps, baby stepa. Love that.

      ;-}

      Delete
  6. Well said, Linda! I am working on this one regarding email. I have too often fell into the habit of not deleting an email I think I will want to read later (a newsletter of some sort that I often like) and of course, I don't and it sits there. Then, of course, I forget to clean out the "sent" box of email often as well. I am getting better!! Thanks for modeling for me!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think we're all trying to figure out what works best for us. For sure, there's no one size fits all. That's why this dialogue is so helpful ...

      Don't you just love a good conversation?

      ;-}

      Delete
  7. I need your discipline when it comes to email. I am good about deleting the unwanted and unsubscribing right away. However, the emails that need more attention sit there and collect dust before they are finally taken care of appropriately. I would love an empty box but have not mastered it yet. Maybe I need to visit you in person to see how it is done! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Emails that collect dust.

      {smile!}

      Too bad our desks are separated by hundreds of miles.

      {sigh}

      Delete
  8. “Like most introverts, I function at my finest when I'm not on overload.” Yes, me, too! I’m also all about keeping my inbox at zero. (I may have others folders that are full! ha)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, Lisa, some of the email files are bulging at the seams and most certainly need to be cleaned out. But at least they're not in our line of vision, right?

      ;-}

      Delete
  9. I wish it was empty. Every so often I go on a deleting spree, which feels great :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't you just love a great big deleting / unsubscribing spree?!

      ;-}

      Delete
  10. Linda,
    Ah, I admire your system...I'm getting better at deleting. Blessings to you :-)

    ReplyDelete
  11. I'm impressed. I have to admit my inbox situation is a bit out of control right now. These are helpful tips. I just need time to have a proper clear-out first!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like how you put that, Carly ...'a proper clear-out.' Usually not easy to accomplish, but boy, when we do, we feel light as air!

      ;-}

      Delete
  12. I'm with you. Those little numbers, often in red, can occupy too much mental space so they have to be dealt with a.s.a.p. I'm also a fan of Henri Nouwen. Thanks for all the affirmation you pour out!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Other online devotionals have come and gone. And Henri's wisdom and grace remains ...

      ;-}

      Delete
  13. As I'm writing this to you, I look down at my outlook and see: 1,712 emails panting and waiting for my attention. I'm going to take you advice and stop for a few minutes and get control of it. Call me when you see me out from under it. lol. Thanks for the help.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, Christine ... let me know how it went and what worked for you. I know you're not alone in the overload!

      ;-}

      Delete
  14. Oh to be as organized with my 2000+ emails in the inbox... I have digital hoarding tendencies... But great admiration for your system!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you're in on this conversation, Heather! I know for sure that you're not alone ... and it sounds like you're not overwhelmed, so my hat's off to ya'!

      Delete
  15. Good tips, Linda. Thanks for sharing. I'm always open to learning, especially when it comes to my infamous, overflowing inbox.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, that infamous overflowing inbox! It sneaks in slowly but surely, doesn't it, friend ...

      ;-}

      Delete
  16. Linda, thanks to you, there are now two emails in my Outlook inbox. One I need to answer thoughtfully, and another about an event this weekend that I will delete after we attend. Before I started culling, there were more than 300 messages. Of course, there's still the Hotmail inbox that goes back to at least 2006. Drastic steps will need to be taken with that one, I'm afraid. Great post, my friend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh wow! You GO, girl! Your clean-up story is so motivating! Be sure to let us know about the Hotmail inbox ... maybe that will be easier than you think?

      ;-}

      Delete
  17. These are great tips for taming the email monster, Linda. I desperately need to follow your lead. I currently have 6 different email accounts. I have no idea how it's come to this. The junk mail is overwhelming and I've actually spent hours unsubscribing from stuff. The delete button is definitely a dear friend of mine. I think I need to work out some non-negotiable systems like you have. Thanks for the inspiration :)!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 6!

      ;-}

      Don't be overwhelmed, friend. You can remedy this, one account at a time. I just know it!

      I'm cheering from the sidelines, ok? And would love to hear your streamlining story!

      Happy 4th to you ...

      Delete
  18. What a great post, Linda. You've given me hope, even though I procrastinate and have thousands waiting for me in four different email accounts I must tend. I need to come up with a system this year for handling them, and you offer some great tips.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ohh ... I'm glad you found your way here, Sarah! I hope you've found some encouragement here as you begin to shed the load.

      Blessings to you ...

      Delete

'I want the people in my life to know that when they come to me, with whatever is on their mind or heart, they will be heard. I am dedicated to hearing the hearts of those around me.'
~ Adam McHugh, The Listening Life

Linda