Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Don't Rue the Day! Delete It!

I wish I could turn back time.  Not so I can kill historical evil doers, or be the first person on the moon, or any overblown junk like that.  I'd like to turn the clocks and calendars back to the first day I ever thought it was a good idea to check the box that said,

"Yes! Please Email Me Daily Your Most Helpful Insights and Stuff!"

I'd like to go back to that day, and maybe put out my own eyeballs. Or cut off some fingers, or something.

As I ponder my life, and current state of affairs, I'm coming to the conclusion that email newsletters are, in substantial part, to blame for most of my messes.  My email is the gateway to everything in my life.  Everything that I have to do, everyone I'd like to be in touch with; everyone I'd prefer to avoid; events I hope to attend; appointments I wish I didn't have to attend; events I really wanted to attend, but which I forgot about until I found the email three months after the fact; reminders of items to buy; bills for items I wish I never bought.

My professional life, as it does for many of us I assume, has revolved around email.  I believe, that for many of us - regardless of our job, trade, calling, or profession - receiving, reading, looking for, and responding to emails is probably the most pressing thing we do during the day.  And we spend all day doing it, regardless of whatever other pesky tasks we have on our list, such as "working," "supervising," "managing," "creating," "implementing," "caring," or what have you.

To the extent that many of us have become veritable slaves to our own bloated inboxes. we can thank those helpful daily reminders and informative newsletters for ensuring that we will never be on time for anything.  There was a time when I would literally do a "spit take" if someone told me that he or she had four-digits-worth of emails in his or her inbox.  A recent informal survey I conducted (meaning I just asked some people I know), revealed that having literally thousands of unread - UNREAD - emails in one's box is no longer unusual.  That's in addition to the many more thousands of read (or at least opened) emails that we can't get to immediately, and therefore we've saved them for that ubiquitous opportunity, succinctly known as "later," for when we will summarily handle all the email at once.  Now that I think about it, I'm wondering where "later" fits in with the other great benchmarks of future time including, "The Rapture," "The End of Days," and "my retirement party." It's important, because, depending on the exact day of these things, respectively, I may never actually need to process my email, and won't care to waste my time on it. But I digress.

Most of my email (I think) is comprised of these auto-generated things I so nonchalantly agreed to receive at some point in the past.  When I was arrogant, and thought I could actually handle things. And there it began - the descent into email-centered chaos - where my entire life's work, professional standing, all my relationship statuses, and my general worth as a human being came down to the answers to these questions:

1) Did I get the email?
2) Did I reply to the email?
3) Do have any recollection whatsoever of what the email said, or how I replied?

Well, long story short, I don't know if I got the email.  I can't find it.  But I really like these shoes that are 20% off!  Unfortunately, today is my LAST CHANCE ever to own these shoes (or any shoes - looks like they'll be discontinuing shoes after 11:59 p.m. EST), and today is not my day to buy shoes; at least not in this time zone  - later it might be different; I have to wait for the email with my verification code.

The bottom line is that email is a tremendous source of stress, pressure, work, and failure - unfortunately - for so many of us.  Simply because there is far too much of it.  This, of course, is not a new story.  Efficiency experts, tech people, business analysts, random people have been expressing this for years.  And I imagine that some people have gotten very good at managing their email, while many, perhaps, have abandoned it altogether for other forms of communication (if that's even possible). I'm one of those saps who abandoned email addresses, most that I never even used but once or three times perhaps, in an attempt to get a foothold on the slippery slope.  I've probably won several Nigerian lotteries, and don't even know just how rich I am, on account of the fact that I don't even remember some email accounts I've set up over the years, and never used.  So I can't find the boxes to check them or discontinue them.  You can't discontinue something you have no idea you ever started.

But today is a new day.  A day for bulk deletion of things.  Newsletters I never really wanted, and about which I will finally admit: "I will never read this thing!"

Because I still believe in email.  And I'm still arrogant enough to believe I can handle things - including, but not limited to, email.  So I shall reclaim email as a viable and effective method of interpersonal communication.  But I need to tidy my boxes a bit, first.

In honor of this new day, I'd like to share this little chuckle.  This I captured directly from a filtered list of a particular newsletter (the title is not important - I'm not trying to pick on any persons here). I've been saving these emails for later forever.  But I'd never actually read any of the subject lines before.

What would an I.Q. of 500 or 1000 look like? I wonder! I'm guessing the answer to that compelling question is not reflected in the subject lines that follow it.  I could be wrong.  In any event, now that I have read a few of these, I am feeling much better about bulk deletion as a way of life.

I will be, however, saving one of the newsletters.  I want to know more about Gordon Ramsey's true personality.  I've often wondered about it.  Is he as testy as he seems? Does he hate the contestants on his show? Would I enjoy working for Mr. Ramsey? Maybe as a low-level sous chopper to the Lead Sous Chef and Vice President of Creative Crudités, on account of that's probably all I'd be qualified to do in the kitchen of a chef of Mr. Ramsey's stature.

You see, I think I would enjoy working with Chef Ramsey.  Because I think he's actually a super nice guy.  I believe that he gets all yelly in the kitchen of his show because he loves food and cares about chefs making good food for the people who will eat it; and so he gets a little passionate when people in whom he has faith can't seem to rise up to where he thinks they can be.  And I'll bet it's hard on him, and sometimes he ends a day shoving pasta in his face while drinking red wine and crying to the resonating sounds of Placido Domingo, just because his soul hurts. That's just what I imagine, anyway. I think chefs love people.  Because you can't care that much about the quality of life-sustaining food that you're preparing for other people's enjoyment, as your life's passion, unless you love people enough to want to bring enjoyment to them - people who you may never meet.  That's a good guy, I think.

But anyway, as you know, I digress.  So, carry on - and I hope you all enjoy a deliriously delightful day of wild deletions!