Too Many Inboxes

My name is Chris, and I have way too many inboxes.

That picture really is comical. It took so long to get all of those down to zero, and that's not even all of them. And it was exhausting. And I know, in a future that is not nearly so far away as I would like, that they will be overflowing again, and I will have to dedicate a day to cleaning them back up, again, for the hundreth time. And it will suck. And it will be exhausting. Every. Single. Time.

It's not just about email, either, though that is certainly one of the main culprits. OmniFocus holds my projects, Evernote, my design inspiration, Instapaper, my reading cue. I have things I want to check out further that I star in Google Reader and Twitter, I have podcasts I want to listen to in Instacast, and I have files that need processing in Dropbox and in my physical inbox.

There’s voicemail, work email, Facebook, post ideas, movies to watch, music to listen to, books to read. Grocery lists, chore lists, wish lists. Instant messages, text messages. Hell, there’s even the dishes waiting to be washed.

All of them seem so important and, when I consider each individually, I really feel like I need to keep it managed. Together, though, they're overwhelming.

The biggest problem with them, I think, is that they are purely administrative for the most part. They don't push us forward, they just keep the boat from sinking. Think of how many things that landed in your inbox that really pushed you forward; I know I can't think of too many. The worst part is that a devotion to keeping those admin items at bay steals so much time from those things that would take us in directions we want to go, or at least, in new, exciting directions. Everything that lands in these inboxes is keeping me right where I am; they're anchors, and they're fucking heavy ones at that.

All those things in your inbox always weigh on you, subconsciously you know that they are there, that they will have to be tackled, if just because it's a battle you are used to, a battle you are comforted by. I want to fight new battles.

So, yeah; I'm circling around with a heavy anchor keeping me locked where I am. On the bright side, at least I'm not sinking, for now. But heaven forbid I stop clearing everything to zero everyday. Because then, shit will really hit the fan. Right.

So, I don't know what to do about it. But I do know one thing: I want my life to be about this folder:

and not this folder:

It's time to be honest with myself: our time is so incredibly limited. The more we try to carry, the more we are going to drop, and it's the worst disservice we can do ourselves to hold so tightly to the boxes of things we might need, someday, maybe, probably not. Because I know that the things that are slipping through the cracks are not just more admin items; they're the things I love. And that's just not OK with me.