I receive so much e-mail it's astounding. Don't we all? I have been thinking of 2010 as The Year of the Inbox.
Gmail is kind enough to snare 1,000 or more pieces of spam a day from the likes of "Tirone Elanda" and "Mr George Van Persie" in its delightful little teeth, but my inbox itself is the entry point for quite literally hundreds of pieces of correspondence a day: PR pitches, newsletters, flash sale alerts, hellos from friends, family photos, bills, cards, linkedin notifications, party invitations, listserve updates, school business, bad jokes from in-laws, political petitions, work correspondence, and yeah, the occasional bit of spam that slips through the cracks.
It's exhausting me.
I've gotten better at scanning the subjects and hitting delete en masse, but I've always wondered what I might be missing; which little gem would escape me in my haste to keep up.
This week I received some spammy looking thing that seems to come every month or so. The subject is something like ZzuuzuuKittiezzz wants to share photos with you.
But wait ...
was that ... ?
I scurried back into my trash folder and took another look at the familiar figures in the preview photo.
I was face-to-face with my daughter's preschool friends.
Every single month, I have, without a moment of hesitation, deleted every album of class photos snapped with love by Thalia's preschool teacher and sent out to the parents.
Every month. All year long.
The look on some of the other parents' faces when I told them was priceless. You'd have thought I deleted my actual daughter.
I have been thinking long and hard lately about Tina Roth Eisenberg from Swiss Miss, who recently -- and quite bravely, I should say -- declared e-mail bankruptcy. She deleted her inbox whole, with a brief apology, and the hopes of a fresh, more productive start.
It led to some interesting debate in her comments, from those who found it rude, disrespectful, and selfish, to kindred spirits, like me, who supported her completely. I even found myself a bit envious.
I really think that as women and mothers in particular, we often put everyone else's needs ahead of our own. Our children, our partners, our work colleagues, our friends, and yes, even strangers who touch our lives electronically through our inboxes. I can quite literally spend the entire day managing e-mails, responding with polite no thank yous to irrelevant pitches, following up on this/that/the other thing, later realizing I have accomplished little else in the day.
And since I'm working again full-time, I simply don't have the time to do it all.
But worse, I may be missing the important things spending my life when I'm enslaved to email management. Not just the photos of my daughter's face when she sees a caterpillar in a netted box become a butterfly for the first time, but the important things that happen when my computer is closed. I don't want to spend each increasingly rare free hour I have thinking, "Oh, good. Maybe I can get through at least 50 of those old e-mails." I'd rather write a post. Or read another chapter of Peter Pan to my kids. Or work on my book proposal. Or take on Nate's pile of clothing that is now stacked so high off the bedroom floor, the kids have turned it into a slide.
I currently have 1,649 e-mails in my Gmail account, 222 of them unread.
That is just one of three accounts I manage.
I'm getting quite ready to select all -- delete (though not without tremendous guilt, or I'd have done it sooner) and call it a day.
How many e-mails are in your inbox? How do you manage it all? Would you take the e-mail bankruptcy plunge?
Liz Gumbinner is the author of Mom-101 where this post was originally published. She's also a contributing editor to Blogher Beauty Hacks, and the publisher and editor-in-chief of the shopping and design blog, Cool Mom Picks
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