Is your inbox full of unread messages? Do you feel overwhelmed or even burdened by the notification number on your phone or laptop steadily increasing, indicating to you how much time you'll eventually have to spend reading, deleting, or wading through them to find the ones you want? If you are like me, the answer is yes. But my next question is why do we do that to ourselves? Why do we inundate ourselves with miscellaneous messages that we don't want, no longer need, or never signed up for in the first place? We promise ourselves to get to them later, but we all know "later" rarely comes for a task that we don't want to do, especially when we feel that the task isn't worth doing in the first place.
I began thinking about this after a recent discussion with a friend. We were chatting about an email I sent her that was buried in the over 19,000+ emails she had in her inbox. I couldn't believe it, and I thought she was joking. However, it turned out that she wasn't, and when she sent me the screenshot of her alert number as proof, my jaw dropped. I could not imagine what it would be like to see that number staring back at me from my phone or laptop. I wondered if any of my other friends had similar situations with their inboxes, so I asked a few of them, and surprisingly they said YES!! I couldn't stop thinking of the tremendous sense of pressure and indecision I would face about where to start if I had that many unread emails in my inbox. Because I don't want to experience that, I check, clear and read my email often, so while I do not have anywhere near those numbers, I realized that my inbox was still stuffed with way more than it needed it to be, and I spent much more time that could be spent elsewhere sifting through it, actively ignoring it or saving it for never.
And that prompted me to ask myself, in how many other ways do I do this? How am I guilty of creating or contributing to situations that generate unnecessary anxiety, overwhelm or pressure for myself and how can I mitigate those situations to give myself more freedom to feel better and free myself from tasks that stress me out, such as wading through a jampacked inbox?
As a goal-driven person, I get my daily dose of dopamine by crossing completed items off my action list. I love feeling accomplished, and I look for little ways to inject that feeling of pride and self-efficacy in myself every day. I am someone who writes down what I want to do, and then I do it. Many times, just for the pleasure of ticking it off my list. Knowing all that I know about the science of goal attainment, I combined what is already true about me with an action that will support a belief that I also want to be true. I want to be a person who does not accept what I do not want when it is within my power to change it. So I came up with a simple strategy, and I invite you to try it too.
I created a recurring task of unsubscribing from one email in my inbox a day. If you are an information and improvement geek like me, you are subscribed to a gazillion platforms, programs, magazines, articles, blogs, shops, offers, or you name it. All of which most likely seemed like a good idea to sign up for at the time. Perhaps you had to sign up for a product, service, or promotion in exchange for your email address, or the information was relevant or applicable for you at the time--but remember, the key phrase is "at the time." THIS is a different time, and now you may no longer need, want, benefit or be interested in that information--and nothing is wrong with that. None of us would wish to or accept physical copies of everything that shows up in our inboxes if it were delivered to our homes every day. If we don't want it, why continue to have it delivered? It's time to clear out, let go and move on. Why clutter our inboxes, our minds, or our lives with information, people, or experiences that no longer serve us well?
Our email inboxes are a great, non-threatening place to start thinking about what we want to keep, organize, and get rid of altogether.
So each day since that initial conversation with my friend, I've unsubscribed from at least one person, place, or otherwise identified email item that I haven't opened or read, or I skipped over, deleted or didn't enjoy reading. I'm telling you my life has already improved, and I'm not exaggerating. The notification number on my phone has been gradually decreasing along with my stress level and. this has made me alomist giddy. I have stopped dreading checking my email, knowing that just about everything in there now is information I want to receive, read or engage with. Consequently, doing this has given me more time because I can be more effective in reading the handful of emails that I want to read instead of scrolling through an endless stream of subject lines.
So Let's start with our inboxes this year--go ahead and unsubscribe from anything and anyone that is no longer benefitting, enlightening, or entertaining you--and that includes me. If you receive an email from me because we had an exchange, a transaction, or a relationship at some point or whatever promoted our initial connection in the past no longer applies, click unsubscribe. I readily admit that I would be sad to see you go (because I am a sensitive person, and receiving an unsubscribe notification always hurts). Still, I would be much happier knowing that the people who don't-- look forward to hearing from me and are genuinely interested in what I have to share. And I am hoping you will do the same with all of your unwanted email--Get rid of them! Poof, gone, just like that. You can do it in one fell swoop--select all and delete. Start all over, or you can do what I did--one unsubscribe a day. Experience how it will be to have one less unsolicited piece of information vying for your nonrenewable time and attention. The same can be said and applied to other areas of our lives, but let's start here. We'll get to everything else soon.
Until then, be well & do well.
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