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What Inboxes Need to be Calmed?

Enumerate your inboxes hero

When I say the word “inbox,” what comes to your mind?

For most people, it’s email, right? Email is the thing we think about when we think of checking our inbox. But the truth is that we all have multiple inboxes. An inbox is just anything that collects incoming bits of information that need to be dealt with.

An inbox is…

  1. A collection of stuff
  2. That gets delivered to you
  3. Which you have to deal with

How many inboxes do you have?

  • Email (of course)…
  • News feeds
  • Social media feeds (multiple!)
  • Multiple email accounts
  • Physical mail
  • Project management software
  • Text messages
  • Slack

With all of these various inboxes, no wonder we can feel overwhelmed. There are so many things to check. And so, one of the first steps toward that Calm Inbox life is to know which inboxes you have, and then you can take steps to calm them down.

By defining an inbox as something with these three components (a collection of stuff, that gets delivered to you and you have to deal with), you can more easily get control of it. Just think about those three components and how you can improve them.

For example:

  1. Is this inbox collecting the right things?
  2. Can I combine any of these collections to make them easier to manage?
  3. Can I eliminate any of these collections so that I never have to deal with them again?
  4. Are the things being delivered to this collection things that I want or need?
  5. Is there anything getting delivered that I no longer want or need to get delivered?
  6. Can I use technology to automatically deal with some of these things on my behalf?

You may have your email under control, but you can still feel stressed out because the other inboxes in your life are far from calm. What’s amazing to me is the amount of relief you can get from even a small amount of attention being paid to these inboxes. And that is how we get into what I call the Just Checks.

As a simple exercise, sit down and write down (or type!) all the inboxes that come to mind. When you consider the three components that make up an inbox, you’ll probably have several Aha! moments about how many inboxes you have to deal with on a daily basis. From there, you can start asking the important questions about what to change about you interact with these inboxes that will set you on a path of improved focus and less stress.

As a side note, what are the first three inboxes you thought of? And then, once you have a full list of inboxes, which three do you think take the most time and attention? Do these two groups match up, or are they totally different? The results can be surprising!

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