One of my rituals for each new year is to choose a word for the coming year. My word for 2011 is EXPERIMENT. To support my EXPERIMENTAL focus, I commit to post the results of a new experiment each Sunday of this year.
Many of my friends are masterful at managing their incoming mail – both snail & electronic. My friend Wanda swears she only touches snail mail once – ONCE! That amazes me. She and my other pals inspired me to expand my ongoing quest to live a more organized life into my own mail handling intentions
This week my focus was on e.mail. Every day of this week, I emptied my Inbox every single time I checked my e.mail.
That might not seem like a big deal to many of you. Believe me, it WAS for me. Over the years, I’ve developed my own quirky method of managing e.mail. I normally receive 150-200 non-spam e.mails a day. So I normally scan/read/label/save/trash/archive/flag for later/respond each day. One day a week, I’ll go back and cull through the flagged mail and then start over. My Inbox was never EMPTY though.
That changed this week. I began by spending a few hours completely emptying my Inbox. This was a frightening and exhilarating experience. I kept hearing these two voices:
- one kept droning, “What if you can’t find it when you need it?” (he sounded a lot like Ben Stein’s teacher character from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off);
- the other reminded me, “Hey, you’re thinking this through. Is the world gong to end if something ends up in the wrong place?”(she sounded a lot like I imagine one of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott sounding).
In the end, Anne won out. From the moment I sat back and stared – AMAZED – by the site of an empty Inbox, I was hooked. I felt free. I felt accomplished. I felt like I was better honoring the people who’d sent me e.mails. I felt like I was better honoring myself. I swear, I think I heard butterflies fluttering around the room.
In short, it was a feeling I wanted again – often.
So I’ve stuck to it. And ya know what, it’s gotten easier and even MORE fun. Ben hasn’t shown-up in days. Neither has Anne, for that matter. It’s just feeling more natural to me.
THIS is an experiment that’s changed my life – in a very good way.
How do you manage your e.mail?
Have any simple-seeming experiments changed your life lately?