Happy Changes for Happy Inboxes

One of the secrets of making changes that stick, is starting so small that you don’t wake up the Chicken Little part of your brain. It’s that idea of setting yourself up for success, because even the tiniest of successes are encouraging.

Yes I know, there’s also the hard part of starting small. You want to make a change now dammit! And that tiny step is still So. Far. Away. from what it is you really want.

I’m asking you to trust me on this.

At a minimum, you’ll get at least that tiny step closer (which you aren’t doing now) and, the much more likely scenario, it’s just the first step to getting what you really want.

And that’s the idea behind Happy Changes. A list of tiny changes you can experiment with over the next week. And beyond.

Choose one of these things, one that feels completely and utterly doable to you, even if you aren’t sure it will make a difference, and play with it this week. Let me know how it goes here, in the comments, on twitter (using the hashtag #happychanges) or Facebook.

Happy Inboxes

Last week, the state of my email inbox received the dubious honor of being one of the Bad parts of my week. This week, I’d like to change that. I’d love to give my email some love, to start to explore a system that will be sustainable, that will keep email from ever showing up as a Bad thing again.

While I had some extenuating circumstances that gave me leave to let my inbox go over the last few weeks, during the best of times, I still struggle with it. I find myself usually letting it go until it’s painful and then doing marathon sessions of processing and deleting to get it down to a reasonable size.

And that’s not really what I crave. The allure of inbox zero is so great for me. It’s so appealing, and yet seems so unattainable. I find myself rationalizing why I don’t do it, why I haven’t done it yet, why I don’t need to do it. And those are all big clues about how there’s something more there.

So, in the spirit of doing, rather than just thinking and planning and trying to get it all figured out first, I’m going to experiment with one or two of these things this week, just to see if and how it shifts things for me. I hope you will too.

  • Read email only when you have the time to respond to it. (No more, just going to see what’s in my inbox on my phone because I’m stopped at a red light.)
  • Archive (I use gmails archive feature rather than deleting) every email after I’ve read it. If something requires action that can’t be handled immediately, actually put it on the to do list. (No more using the inbox as a to do list.)
  • Spend concentrated bits of time, getting through the backlog.
  • Put all the back log in a special folder and deal with it later.
  • Find recurring emails that you can unsubscribe from, and unsubscribe from them.
  • Find recurring emails that can be filtered into folders and set up the filters, so they don’t have to ever be in your inbox.
  • If you use gmail’s priority inbox setting, be more aggressive about making corrections. Only allow the emails that come from real people to be marked as important.
  • Explore the current pattern with email, see if there’s a way to back up and shift it, so there’s no falling into the rabbit hole of letting email pile up to begin with.
  • Invent another tiny change to the way you currently interact with your email, and please, share it with us!

Remember, I’d love to hear how it goes, either here in the comments, on twitter (using the hashtag #happychanges) or on the Perception Studios Facebook page.

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In the last Happy Changes post we talked about Happy Moving. My one thing quickly morphed into more. Read the update and share your experiences.

3 comments to Happy Changes for Happy Inboxes

  • […] it’s true my email inbox has been a little backlogged, that’s not the reason. Apparently, there’s some weird glitch with my contact forms and […]

  • Hey, Shannon! I love the idea of using Happy Changes for making a happy inbox. As you know, I love maintaining inbox zero (though at the moment, I have 75 messages because I’ve been out of town and unable to give email its due). I wanted to give feedback, based on my experience maintaining M-F inbox zero since January 2011, on the idea of archiving every email as soon as you read it. I fear that that might rob inbox zero of a bit of its power. One thing I love about emptying my inbox at the end of the day is that it forces action…at the very least a reply to those messages that require one. If further action is required, I’ll flag it, archive it and add it to my task list. But sometimes I’ll just do the action because it’s easier than all of the above. That’s not to say that you might not actually do the action at the moment you read the email, but I guess I often want a little space before I reply (particularly to an email the invokes emotion). Hope that makes sense and is helpful!

  • […] the last Happy Changes post we talked about Happy Inboxes. I’m handling the backlog slowly but surely, and experimenting with ways to easily stay […]

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