19 for 2019: #13 Reclaim Your Personal Email Account

Thinking about keeping up with my personal email account, especially when most of my waking hours are dominated by the tyranny of my work inbox, makes me think of that classic scene in the Money Pit where Shelley Long and Tom Hanks, after a difficult day figuring out that “fixer upper,” was an understatement on their new large home investment, pour a bucket of hot water into a bathtub in hopes of a relaxing soak, only for the bathtub to immediately fall through the floor and shatter on the floor below. POV looking up through the bathtub sized hole at both of them, stunned, and Tom Hanks laughs a strained laugh of utter defeat.

I’ve worked little at this item, aside from starting the process, and now being able to at least say I have measured and have a quantifiable sense of what I’m up against: about 23 new unread emails a day and a baseline of unread mail that is staggering.

I used to try to keep up with it, until I started working full time. Then I had growing anxiety about it, until I finally just embraced my hatred for email and started letting people know up front that it is a terrible way to communicate with me–I use it purely for functional purposes, like retrieving pesky lost passwords and as a place to find archival information about activities when useful, like purchase confirmations or contact information. It has been more than a little liberating to mostly ignore it, and indeed, the most important stuff usually gets through. Except with some shifting in my personal priorities, I need to lean on it a little more, and frankly, not lean on those closest to me to otherwise flag me when something important may have dropped into my inbox that I wasn’t expecting, so I valiantly committed to rectifying my personal email habits in 2019, and I can report that hasn’t happened by a long stretch.

I’ll roll this one over to next year, because I feel it is important to do so. Also, continue to ping me via other, more effective channels of communication until I sort this one out.

Next up: my closets have a long tradition of looking like my email inboxes.

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