Your Email Inbox – Beloved Home or Ellis Island circa 1907?

One of my biggest daily struggles is with email. My problem is that I sometimes suffer from FMS (‘Fraid of Missing Something). If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s a not-so-distant cousin of JustIn Case.

My inbox is overflowing with newsletters, updates and notifications that I keep getting because there might be some good information in there. The problem is that it tends to pile up in my inbox, until I can’t stand it anymore and then I madly delete and respond and get exhausted, annoyed and more frequently than I like to admit embarrassed by important emails lost in the detritus.

Last week, while strategically ignoring my inbox and checking in on my favorite blogs, I read Christine Martell’s post Getting Control of Email. Unlike Christine, I’m not sure I’m brave enough to know exactly how much time I’m spending on email right now, but, I loved reading about what she’s doing, how it’s helped, and oh the beautiful paintings!

Duly inspired, I started deleting and unsubscribing and messing around with rules and folders. There went a few hundred of the 500+, but I had a long way to go. And, it was still agonizing.

The next day, I was having a chat with my mastermind buddy, Kat Miller* that completely shifted things.

She asked me to imagine my inbox as my living room or office, and wanted to know what it would be like to invite all that email in.

[Insert Horrified Gasp]

I immediately felt panicked. I don’t want all that crap in my space.

Kat talked me down, and guided me to think about my email as a special place, a literal place, place. This idyllic little Tuscan villa came instantly to mind. It was beautiful, welcoming and private.

Unfortunately, instead of being the gracious lady of this beautiful home, I was acting like a security guard at Ellis Island. Scanning over the wretched refuse looking for the sick and troublesome to get them handled.

Not a pleasing metaphor.

So Kat and I ran with the little Tuscan Villa metaphor for awhile. I decided to create a Library where I could relax and browse through newsletters whenever I wanted. Most importantly, I realized that setting aside focused time every day to greet visitors, or spend time in the library, or otherwise hang out with people who dropped by was a really wonderful way to be.

I’m practicing this new way of being with my email. It’ll take some getting used to, changing of habits, and I already like how much more spacious and friendly it feels. Almost like when I got my very first aol account.

* BTW, Kat is an amazing person, with great talents and abilities. Unfortunately, she’s not taking new clients right now, but when she is, and/or she has her website up, I’ll be the first to share!

3 comments to Your Email Inbox – Beloved Home or Ellis Island circa 1907?

  • Love the metaphor of a relaxing place to read. Its beginning to feel that way to me too, now that I have all the newsletters filtered and segmented. The spaciousness is interesting also, no need to constantly monitor the email torrent, the important emails are easy to see and deal with.

  • I love the image of you greeting visitors and spending time in the library of your Tuscan villa! I remember how nicely you offered me your help last summer, but little did I know then that you were in fact inviting me to visit you in Tuscany! I love knowing that when I finally get my act together and send you something, my missive will be received as me dropping by at your villa. :)

  • […] with landmines of neglected emails. Clearly, I need to give my inbox some loving attention. I know how to love up my email, so it’s about choosing a time and getting in the right mindset, and perhaps even unleashing […]

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