A friend of mine recently told me that with her new job she is completely overwhelmed at the amount of emails coming to her on a daily basis. She said there is no way she’ll ever be able to clear her inbox. This is a familiar tale to all of us no doubt. And we must admit it certainly does feel good on those ever so rare occasions when that inbox shows “no mail.”
I believe, however, that an empty inbox is no longer the goal. At a certain point, when email crossed the tipping point as the standard of business communication years ago, it became not possible to clear your inbox every day. More importantly, it became not the point.
If you’re able to completely clear your inbox every day as an entrepreneur, perhaps (1) you’re not doing enough work, and (2) you’re not doing work that “matters” i.e. you’re not putting your own stamp on the world- you’re just moving other people’s “stuff” around. Are you the person who creates folders for every single situation that could arise, so you can move emails there from your inbox to deal with them at a certain point?? If you’re anything like me when I used to do this, this makes you feel better in the short term because technically your “inbox” is empty. In reality, you just spread your pain out over a bunch of other inboxes with different labels to make you feel less stressed!
It’s not about that. It’s about keeping everything moving forward on a daily basis. It’s about prioritizing what’s important, and learning to live in the information-overload of today and to be okay with that. It’s about not letting works in progress stress you out, or worse yet over time paralyze you from doing the work you love which is why you got into whatever you’re into in the first place.
My Director of Operations and I recently had this conversation. He said that this was something he was still getting used to because of the amount of projects our company has going on. Our brain wants to see empty, blank, clean – to feel like work has been accomplished. I believe it’s a conscious choice in mindset to not only be okay with an inbox that isn’t empty, but to embrace it. Embrace an inbox that is healthy, breathing, and alive with active projects and opportunities.
This post is part of the “Your Turn Challenge,” a 7-day blogging challenge created by Winnie Kao, special projects lead for marketing / business guru Seth Godin. Learn more about the “Your Turn Challenge.”