In the past month I’ve: changed jobs; changed cable, phone and Internet providers; found a tutor for my eldest daughter; accepted that our two-year old bathtub (which has been leaking into our basement) is unfixable and so needs replacing; got new glasses for my eldest daughter; then found the other glasses she had lost (bottom of playroom toy box); managed to keep up a (sort of) work-out schedule; (sort of) meal-planned; dealt with (seemingly FOREVER) ongoing insomnia from my youngest daughter; hosted and visited with visiting relatives and …
… I’m sure there’s more. But the result has been blog absence here and well, logging in yesterday to:
…517 emails in my personal email account.
Now I don’t want to make this more than it is. It’s mainly my interests and hobbies. Just well, me – beyond being mom, wife and having a job.
But I’ve had my head in the sand as far as personal email-land goes for, well, apparently about a month now.
I’ve done the basics: deleted the ads and answered the required stuff. But then I saved everything that would either a) require thought or time in order to respond or b) I might want to read later.
Given my blogging and volunteer activities, that’s a lot of stuff to go through later.
And the longer I leave it, the less inclined I am to deal with it.
Low-level anxiety builds.
Little things become more daunting with neglect. After a week or so it seems too late to comment on that great blog post, or to join in on a conversation that I’d saved because, well: interesting!
I put in some solid effort yesterday and today wading through it all and there’s now under 300 messages left.
I know another couple of hours effort will half that again.
And then I will feel wonderful satisfaction for a couple of days.
I will make a promise to myself to “stay on top of things”.
And then inevitably, the cycle will repeat.
I mentioned a few months ago about how I was joining a lifestyle coaching program.
We’ve been meeting weekly since February and last Wednesday’s meeting focussed on Time Management (that topic just needs capital letters).
One of my fellow classmates discussed how she was considering getting a smart phone and asked the group for their opinion: Did it help? Or did it distract?
She could see the benefit of being able to answer email in line at the grocery store, for example. But wondered about well, this sort of thing:
The opinion of the smart phone users in the room – myself included – was pretty uniform. It is helpful for prompt triage of messages, deleting unimportant messages, filing FYIs, and for responding to urgent or quick inquiries? Have at it.
But we stressed how it becomes a distraction, or worse, a crutch, if you let it.
Allow it to distract from reality around you, and it is no longer a tool, but rather a vice that pulls you away from what really matters in life.
As I continued going through my personal emails this morning, I realized they held a similar quality.
If items in that inbox helped me achieve, do, or connect with what I believed to be important in life, great.
Many times they do. I subscribe and follow all sorts of blogs, Facebook groups, Twitter groups and so forth for topics that interest me. I believe in the importance of connecting with other parents. I believe in the importance of reading varied opinions on subjects I care about. I also believe in the importance of reading opinions that challenge my view of the world. Twitter and blogs help me do all that.
I knew all this before logging in to 500+ emails to sort through.
So here’s my moment of clarity – as it were.
I’d love to respond to all of it. But I know there isn’t enough time to do everything I’d like to do in life.
Life is ever and always about choices.
And the time I have to give to any given interest ebbs and flows with the competing demands in my life.
My inbox, by my choosing, keeps me up to date on everything I follow.
So my first task in reading through is to choose my focus and to choose how much to engage and how involved I want to be, based on how much time and other priorities I have at that moment, in any given issue I read.
Respond? Comment? Like? Tweet? Follow? Forward? Post? Delete?
My next task is then to be okay with that choice.
What about you? Any tips for managing email-land?