Has this ever happened to you? You open your inbox and in one spot it says you have ten new messages. Great! That is manageable.
But in another spot where it keeps track of the total number of messages in your inbox, it says 1700 messages, 250
Your heart sinks and you feel as if you just opened the door of a packed closet and a bowling ball, toaster and a basketball trophy you won ten years ago all land on your head.
You’ve just had an attack of Undesired Inbox Chaos!
At the same time, you quickly scan through your new messages and start thinking about the messages you want to receive but didn’t receive. Or you breathe a sigh of relief that you didn’t get a certain message, but then almost immediately start worrying that the next time you open your inbox that messages might be there.
You’ve just had an attack of Imagining The Future State Of Your Inbox Chaos!
Life looks a great deal like this much of the time doesn’t it? For example, we want to enjoy the wonderful meal that we are eating with friends or family. The moments of the meal are like our inbox. But suddenly we start thinking about happy or sad things from the past, and those messages flood our inbox. And them we start thinking about either great things that could happen in the future or worrying about things we don’t want to happen in the future. Suddenly, we are totally out of touch with the wonderful meal we are eating. Our inbox is so full of things from the past and future that we can hardly taste the food that we are eating or savor the wonderful conversation that we are having.
Developing the skills to have our inbox clear so we can truly enjoy what we are doing at the present time takes practice.
Our email inbox is an unlikely but rewarding place to start this practice. Everyday create a Present Moment Party In Your Inbox. For ideas on how to begin this practice read the Game of The Day.
Game Of The Day
Every time you open your inbox, be aware of your expectations about emails you might receive. Consciously tell yourself, “When I open my inbox, I’m excited to focus on the messages I discover there.” While working on your inbox, whenever thoughts or expectations about future emails you might receive come up just repeat to yourself, “I’m excited to focus on the messages in my inbox at this moment.”
Now to the past emails in our inbox: In the old days, there was an email party everyday in my inbox and a great many uninvited or unwanted guests would not only crash the party but would stay overnight. To make matters worse, they might choose to camp out for many days or even months. Now days I aim to politely ask uninvited guests to leave my inbox by deleting them on the same day I receive them.
1. Junk, newsletter type and community event emails:
If it is an email about an event of interest to you, mark it down on your calendar and print off the email so you have the details when you want them.
If it is an email of information that truly interests you, and you know you will read it in the next week, put it in an email file entitled “Exciting emails to read in the next week.”
On the other hand, if it’s an email that is of no value to you or if it’s an email that may contain some slightly useful information that you think you might maybe read someday just DELETE it.
2. Personal Emails:
Play the game of answering personal emails the same day. You don’t have to spend hours composing an email. Practice keeping your emails short and to the point. At the same time, keep them warm and friendly.
If you are still thinking about how to respond to a particular email, just write a quick email thanking the person for sending the email. Also, give the person a date to look for your more detailed email response. Then put their email in a folder called “Fun Emails To Respond To.” Also remember to keep track of the date you said you would respond on your calendar.
Once your email inbox is down to zero, CELEBRATE.
Repeat practice daily. Remember to have fun. Remember it’s an email party!
Note: Some days I succeed in getting my email inbox down to zero emails and some days I don’t. Either way it is okay, because this is just a game.