For the last few years I have occasionally taught a webinar on the contents of the book Bit Literacy by Mark Hurst. It’s an excellent book filled with good advice on how to gain control over the huge amount of information that comes to you and from you daily. One of the critical ideas from the book is that of the zero inbox which means that you should once a day get down to zero emails in your inbox. I have taught that and practiced it for several years.
…until the last two months…
Since February I have found my inbox steadily growing week by week, reaching a high point of 460 emails when I got back from my vacation two weeks ago. No matter how much time I worked on doing, deleting, deferring or delegating, I never got below 80 still needing attention in the past two months. That drives me crazy.
Part of it is my own doing in that I want to read all the newsletters I subscribe to, I want to take the time to peruse data and presentations sent to me as an FYI, and I’m stubborn enough to only give up on such practices when there appears to be no other choice.
Today I realized there is no other choice and I filed away or deleted those emails that fell into the “nice to do or know” category but failed to make the “must do or know” list. So that means I started the day with 260 emails and ended with only four by late tonight. Those four can wait til Monday.
Part of the issue is that I have been and will be out of the office about half the time from March through mid May. To get done all that must happen, I have to walk away from some other things that are optional.
Doing so is incredibly freeing. The feeling of always being behind or snowed under is stifling. It chokes you. If you can do something about it, you need to for your own emotional and perhaps physical health.
Leap year lesson #102 is Admit when you take on too much and do something about it.