I know the feeling. Drowning in emails, inundated with work, not enough time for personal matters, getting that feeling like it’s all you can do just to keep your head above water. What happened to those quiet, reflective days of youth?
I had a thought the other day that one of the reasons why time seems to speed up as you grow older is because as our repetitive everyday tasks become more automatic, we pay less attention to them and then time seems to slip by more quickly. Before we know it, we’ve driven home from work on the same route we take every day, or we’ve prepared and consumed the same meal without even fully realizing what we were doing. At times it feels as though you can almost see into the future, watching yourself pulling into your driveway as the album on your iPod reaches a certain point.
But that leads me to another feeling: the feeling of disdain I have for anyone who complains of being a victim of modern life’s conveniences. Yes, we all have too much to do; yes, we’re all drowning in emails that we don’t have enough time to read; yes, taxes take too long and are generally awful in every regard. But you know what? As human beings we not only have brought this upon ourselves but we also have the capacity to deal with it. For example, I have no pity whatsoever for people who complain they’re drowning in emails. I would let emails sit and sit and sit in my inbox forever and not respond to them or read them or reply to them or do anything with them, perhaps hoping on some level that they’d go away. Inaction led to more inaction. I was (and am) a highly skilled procrastinator, able to compartmentalize and bury anything I deem inconvenient or unpleasant.
And you want to know the average daily inbox count of my three email accounts now? Zero. Yes, I, a miraculous human being, have gleaned a way to cope with all of these emails. I researched my own psychology and the email coping techniques of other people who had solved the same problem, and I devised a solution that works – for me. I’m not going to tell you what it is because: a.) It works for me but maybe not for you, and b.) Who cares?
The point is I identified a small but fixable problem with both my everyday life and my own attitude, I came up with a solution, I implemented it, and I continue to refine it. And while having an overloaded email inbox may seem like small potatoes to some people or even a non-issue to others, it bugged me. And now that I’ve tackled that little problem, things don’t seem so bad and, hey, maybe I can tackle another thing that’s bugging me… maybe even a slightly bigger one this time.
So if you don’t like me, you don’t have to read me. If you don’t want my emails, you can delete them. But I’m happy with myself and who I am. I try to live by several generic axioms:
Failing to plan is planning to fail.
Everything has room for improvement.
The only person responsible for your happiness is you.
Deal with it.
P.S. Also, a democratic axiom: One cannot bemoan an event’s outcome that one was given the opportunity to affect however through neglect, inaction, or apathy did not.