Thursday, June 25, 2009

Aiming for the Illusive "Zero Messages"

A month or two ago I read a post by Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson, Inc. about keeping on top of email. It had me inspired and motivated to weed through the mess that had become my inbox and empty it out. Previously I had been satisfied to get it down to 50 messages. But Hyatt talks about clearing it out. Making it completely empty. As in zero messages.

I can't remember ever seeing my inbox say "0 messages". Not even the day I set it up (because, after all, you have to have someone send a test message and then you've got mail). However, once I read what Michael Hyatt does on a regular basis, suddenly zero messages had become the Holy Grail of email communication for me. I wanted to get my inbox empty. I needed to get that inbox empty.

Two months later and I'm still hovering around 50 messages. Sometimes (weekends) it zooms up to a hundred or more. Then gradually during the work week I attempt to whittle it down. One week I even had it down to 18 messages. Almost there, but not quite.

So I am going public with my quest. Shame me. Hound me. Do your part to urge me on to that illusive goal. I want to reach zero messages. The perennial procrastinator in me makes this a challenge, but I'm ready to purge the procrastination. I want to storm the inbox and obliterate the messages there. Only 38 messages to go. Can I do it?

Oh dear, do you realize what you've just done, Amusing Mom? You've just invited all these people to blast your inbox in an effort to thwart your quest. Or worse yet, you've caused all the lovely people you enjoy hearing from to shy away from sending you email. What to do? How to reassure them that you'll promptly delete all "spam"/fake emails and happily (& promptly) reply to any real email? Oh well, what's done is done - trust that your readers are ALL lovely people who will gladly continue to send you electronic missives. Now pick up that laptop and get off on your quest!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Alone & a Rest

The house is quiet today. It's empty. Amusing Dad is off at work. The children hopped into their grandparents' RV at the campground this weekend and should return sometime this afternoon. I'm alone.

Funny thing is, without a husband and children around today I find that I'm...still a wife and a mom. I woke up to a house empty of people, but filled with needs. The need for food prompted a trip to the grocery store. The need for clean clothes set me to working on laundry. I made a drive to Amusing Dad's work to take him some things he had forgotten. I fed the girls' fish. There were piles to put away and bills to pay. And so it has gone.

I made only one deviation from my to-do list today. I took a nap. I was thoroughly enjoying my day alone, listening to a lecture on CD from a conference I recently attended. Without the demands of three young girls to distract me, I could let my mind focus on the thoughts that came up. So by mid-afternoon, I was finding myself a bit overwhelmed by all those thoughts. There is never a day where I can entertain more than one deep train of thought and here I'd been riding three or four for some hours now. It drained me.

There is one more thing absent from my house today: busyness. For months now I've run from one activity to the next, prepared for one commitment after the other, worked on one project after another. Last Thursday the final project was complete. My plate is now empty, save for the needs of one husband and three daughters. My to-do list has shrunk to a doable size. My calendar has space for relaxation.

It is no wonder that I needed a rest.