100 emails a day and a fear of deletion

I came home from the office today looking like a zombie. My husband kept asking me what was wrong and it took me a second to figure it out. I was tired. I went straight to making dinner, cutting up bite size pieces of chicken for everyone 5 and under (that’s 3 people!), dishing out the appropriate portions of peas and carrots, buttering dinner rolls and pouring milk. I couldn’t even force a smile across my lips. Because I was worn out from my day and not able to enjoy my family! That is clearly NOT having it all!

So I thought and thought what the heck was wrong with me and came to this conclusion. I was mentally and emotionally spent from my day at work. Not all days are like this but today was exceptionally challenging with some high intensity meetings and emotional co-workers over projects gone way bad and……..over 100 emails! Yes, that’s how many I received today. Starting at 12:35 AM actually and ending, well, do they ever really end? There’s one from Australia popping in as I write this.

So, that’s just my ‘corporate job’ email. My personal pictureyourlife email is equally overwhelming. Because I manage my own website, I control the size of my mailbox. That has led me to frequently increase the capacity instead of deleting. Most people would have a panic attack to know that I have now 2099 emails in my inbox Friends and family I haven’t touched base with in forever, the obligatory 3 or 4 jokes a day (thank goodness there were none chiding my alma mater Ohio State Buckeyes after last nights no show at the BCS Championship game!). And of course the spam. Do I care that Kohl’s is having Super Saturday AGAIN? Do they really think I’m going to spend one of my only sleep in days to be there for the doorbusters at 6 AM? Why am I still subscribed to this stuff?

How do I get a handle on this? DELETE, DELETE, DELETE and UNSUBSCRIBE! We all need to get this excess noise out of our lives and focus on what is really important and necessary. In comparison to what I received, I only sent 14 emails today. And to the credit of some of my thoughtful teammates, a few emails were eliminated by a quick trip to my desk to shore up some strategy. How about that? We actually spoke to each other face to face!

Ultimately, I think I am my own worst culprit. The email overload is so bad that I’ve gone into survival mode. I don’t delete! Our company policy is 200 MB and 60 days. So I just manage from the top of the stack and let the system weed out the old. So far so good on that method. I haven’t lost anything important with this approach (which makes me wonder, if nothing important happened over 60 days ago, does what I’m doing right now really matter at all??) But even as I process through emails while I’m reading, I just can’t bring myself to deletion. I have this false sense that I will go back and check something, forget a date, want to log that person’s email address, maybe do something about that sale, etc, etc. But it really rarely happens.

On the positive side, the quantity of email I receive is in direct proportion to the number of people in my own circle of influence. Let me tell you, before email, I wasn’t receiving 100 phone calls or letters a day! Thank God for this technology that helps keep us all connected!

So here is a new resolution for the year……read and process, read and process, read and process!

Read your email and do one of the following:

  1. If it requires only a short reply (< 30 seconds), do it right away then delete the original
  2. If it will take some time, effort, research to reply to, tag it as a task and add it to your task list so it does not get lost in the shuffle
  3. Have a system in place to capture email addresses so you can feel comfortable deleting one from somebody new (if in doubt, keep an email address. you never know!)
  4. Just delete it and don’t feel guilty! You’ll forget about it by tomorrow anyhow

Happy deleting!

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