Inspired by Havi (because she’s brilliant), and because looking back is a great way to figure out the best way to move forward, I’ve started a ritual of reviewing the week that was: what went well, where it got hard, what to take away, and next steps.
How was your week? Chime in if you like!
Geez, Louise, is it Friday again? How did that happen?
What did I do this week? I honestly can’t remember, because it seemed like I spent the whole damned time in my email box.
Yes, somebody’s a little testy today. Because somebody has finally faced the fact that she has an email addiction problem, and staring your issues in the face is bound to make a person cranky.
On the plus side, when you hit bottom, the only place to go is up.
To that end, I’ve taken the radical step of putting into place a couple of strategies to help me with my email addiction.
Strategies for dealing with email addiction
Much as I would like to be like Havi, and take an email sabbatical (which then turned permanent, if you can believe it – is the woman not some kind of superhero?), the fact is this is not realistic in my world the way it’s presently constructed. Email is kind of the foundation upon which my mortgage getting paid is dependent.
Or one of them, anyway.
So no email sabbatical for Melissa at this point in time.
However, I did take a page from my friend Debra’s book, and added the following to my email signature:
NOTE: I am attempting (with little success most days) to increase my efficiency by checking email less frequently, ideally twice a day at noon and 4 p.m. If you have an urgent matter, please call the studio and leave a message if I don’t answer. Thanks!
Which is strategy #1.
And even more significant, I’m actually making the herculean effort to follow this goal.
Which is strategy #2.
This is huge, people!
The open mail reader window on my screen is a comforting baby blanket of connection that I can pop over to anytime a file takes a long time to open, or well, just anytime, really.
But does it really make me feel better? No.
And is it really necessary? In almost all cases, no.
And because it’s constantly on in the background, it’s like a leaky faucet, drip, drip, dripping away, and before I know it, gallons of productivity have dripped down the drain and it’s another day wasted.
It’s a drug.
My previous addiction
But this is an addiction that’s not so easy to kick, because I can’t just eliminate it, like I could if I had the sense to have some kind of normal problem, like alcohol or drugs.
Which is interesting, because my other addiction (which I’ve done massive amounts of work around, and can happily say I’m 99.999% healed from) also involved something that I couldn’t kick by just eliminating it.
In other words, food.
(Which, if you think about it, pretty much all people are physically addicted to. But that’s another story.)
Somehow I managed to escape the substance abuse phenomenon, alcohol and drugs (thank god) holding no sway over me. I’m completely uninterested in gambling*, and I don’t even have the chocolate gene. (I’m kind of a freak that way – I have a sort of supernatural ability to remain completely neutral about chocolate, whether it’s in the room or not.)
No, my big addictive pattern was bulimia, an eating disorder that ran my life and made me completely miserable for several years in my teens and twenties.
And since I couldn’t just give up food (though in truth, I actually wanted to; when I was bulimic I always considered myself a failed anorectic), I had to figure out how to create a relationship with it (and more importantly, of course, with my body, which was the real issue) that worked for me.
I have much more to say about my experience as a bulimic, but this post is already getting long, and god knows I can go off on tangents of tangents ’til the cows come in, so that’s all I’m going to write about that right now.
Let’s just say that I’m amused at the parallels of my addictions, and glad I’m just a tad wiser and more mature now.
Hopefully taming my email monster will not be quite as traumatic as the journey to accepting and loving my body.
So how’s it going so far? Well, the results are mixed, but given that I only instituted the new “twice-a-day-only” policy yesterday, I guess that’s to be expected.
I definitely fudged one of my email sessions, which kind of extended into what probably should count as two or three sessions…
And I added an additional late-night session when I got home from my evening excursion…
Though this morning I managed to stay completely away from my email until noon. A miracle!
So all in all, I’d give myself about a C. Maybe a C+.
BUT, wiser people than I have made the point that screwing up can actually be very useful in pointing out how you can do things better moving forward. And this has definitely played out for me over the past 24 hours:
– I realized that certain correspondences I’m engaged in, while entertaining, are not going to help me achieve my goals, which made it easier for me cut them off. (Seriously, I planned to write a post last night, but got distracted by the absolutely ingenious email I was writing instead, to someone who literally means nothing to me. And then it was so late that I really had to get to bed. Um, that was a waste of time. Lesson learned.)
– Which made me think about all the demands on my time and energy, and that it might be useful (at least for now, as I’m working to develop habits of greater efficiency and productivity so that I can build my empire, follow [all of] my Blisses, and create the life I really, really want) for me to assess them according to whether/how much they will help or hinder me in my larger goals.
Huh. I mean, like duh, right?
I hate to go all Steven Covey on you, but I’ve been wasting time on sand and gravel, when I’ve got a bunch of big rocks to fit in my glass. And if I want those big rocks (which I do, in a big way), I’ve got to make sure I’m using my resources to fit them in the glass first. (If you haven’t read 7 Habits of Highly Effective People you may not catch the reference. Sorry.)
Which does make it a lot easier to choose between writing a stupid, pointless email for kicks, and writing for my blog. Or playing guitar. Or doing the work that I actually get paid for. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
So all in all, even if this was all I accomplished (and of course it’s not; I did manage to get a few other things done), I’d say it’s been a productive week.
*Not entirely true: if there had been any actual slot machines, like, with slots, for coins, I would have happily tossed in a few quarters on my one and only trip to Vegas [for a conference], but the machines would only accept plastic. So I may be the only person in history who has stayed in Vegas and not gambled a penny. Freaky, I know.