This past week it dawned on me that I had a huge email problem. I realized that every day I was having to spend valuable time weeding through dozens of emails from retailers, magazines, radios, conferences, etc. Even deleting them or marking them as spam was taking time. Time I wanted to protect.
Some of them were good places that I’d subscribed to—for example Twitter notifications and even Writer’s Digest–that still needed to be cut back.
Others, I was like, HUH?! Why are we subscribed to receive emails from VUDU or Noisetrade or Macys or Joel from Buffer (who is Joel anyway!)?
Some companies were even sending multiple emails per day. I had to ask myself if I really needed emails every day from both Lowes and Home Depot? Or three a day from Bath and Body Works? Yes, I like soap, but I don’t have to be reminded of my need for it more than once a day (or even once a week!).
All that to say, I spent several days taking a closer look at the emails that were coming to my inbox telling me what I needed to purchase or places I needed to go in order to be happy and complete. Slowly I began to unsubscribe from those dozens of retailers.
My inbox began to shrink in size. Lo and behold, I wasn’t any less happy as a result and my life wasn’t suddenly incomplete. In fact, I realized that having a perfectly empty inbox is quite blissful! There’s something freeing about simplifying and decluttering.
We’re bombarded by a culture of having and doing more. Everywhere we turn, we face advertisements, commercials, billboards. Everywhere we go, there’s pressure (sometimes subtly) to do more, be in more activities, take more vacations, join more clubs.
Our lives are often as full as our inboxes with messages telling us how we can be happy and complete. All too often we try to keep up with the messages—chasing after the dream, doing and buying more. But instead of making us happy, the busyness and the accumulation of stuff leaves us frazzled, exhausted, and stressed more than ever.
Have we ever thought about protecting our “life inbox” the same way that we protect our email inbox?
First, we’d need to go through the various messages that we’re subscribing to and decipher which ones are truly helpful and wholesome and which ones are hurting us. What messages are we letting shape us? For example, recently I heard this: My child is my everything, so I will give anything, and stop at nothing. While I understand the “heart” behind such a message, it also makes me pause and wonder about the rampant entitlement problem among children and where that might be coming from.
Do we need to be more discerning and block, unsubscribe, permanently delete those messages that don’t line up with the Truth?
Second, even after we’ve weeded out the “bad” messages we’ve been allowing into our lives, we still need to sort through what remains. Sometimes we have to toss out the good things in order to bring about more white space into our lives. For example, will adding one more activity to our child’s day (and subsequently to ours) really make everyone happier?
It may seem strange to have an “empty” day with nothing on the schedule or an “empty” drawer after decluttering. But perhaps an empty inbox in life as in email, will bring about a new freedom and peace that so many of us need.
How about YOU? What are some ways that you empty your inbox—simplify, declutter, and make white space in your life?