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.


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!!



visiting with Holley