Your inbox is a mess right now. Hundreds, maybe even thousands, of emails are overflowing your gmail account. Outlook is a nightmare. The little envelope that announces new email keeps flashing over and over again.
You’ve missed whole chains of conversations. You have to go back to the first email and dig your way through the last seven from seven different people talking just to make sure you can delete the entire back and forth email ping pong match between coworkers.
So you Google “empty my inbox” and get a lot of different tips on getting to “inbox zero.” Some help. Some don’t. But most won’t ever touch on the real reason your inbox is out of control. Want to know why it is?
Because sometimes, a full inbox makes you needed.
It makes you feel valuable.
How do I know that? Because, if I’m being honest, that’s why my inbox gets out of control. I’ve never said that out loud before. I’ve never opened up my inbox and thought, “I hope there are a ton of emails in there so that I feel like there are people who want my opinion or like me enough to email me.” But “email attachment,” the emotional buzz you get from a crazy inbox, is subtle. It’s sneaky. It’s quiet.
But I notice it sometimes when I go out of town. If I come back after a few days and have only a handful of emails waiting for me, I feel a little disappointed. On the outside, I grumble at how many emails I have to delete. I tell coworkers I’m overwhelmed! But on the inside, I’m thinking, “Didn’t anybody notice I wasn’t around? Didn’t anyone miss me?”
You might not feel this way, but I know I’m not the only one who struggles with email attachment. We wrap our value up so tightly with our inboxes that we like to brag about how crazy they are.
“Mine is a mess! I’ve got 2,500 emails in there.”
“The second I got back to work after vacation I had hundreds of emails waiting for me!”
“Hold on one second, let me just check my email.”
That last one is the trickiest. We now feel the urgent need to respond to emails from wherever we are, whenever we are, as if that’s the way we’ve always lived.
Thirteen years ago, no one checked their email at my college graduation because nobody in the crowd had an iPhone. Or a Blackberry. Or a sneaking suspicion that maybe their self-worth was reflected in their inbox.
Delete your emails. Create folders. Make phone calls. Aim for inbox zero. All of those can be good things to do. But until you realize your life is bigger than your inbox, your value is bigger than your inbox, your heart is fuller than your inbox, it will always be out of control.
How many emails are in your inbox right now? How many different inboxes do you have?