Zen and the Art of Email Maintenance

olivia-tree-postThat’s an unsolicited tree pose from my youngest daughter, Olivia, age five. I monitor her screen time more than my other two daughters since she is frequently being shlepped around to her big sisters’ activities and it’s an easy pacifier. AND, as easy as it is to pass the phone over, studies show it’s not too great for brain development (yes, those studies are changing but still…), so we manage to keep it to an hour or less each day.

While on vacation, those guidelines DEFINITELY slipped by the wayside and one instance when I retrieved my phone from her, I noticed that my email icon was gone. I knew it would be easy to find and recover but after several attempts of reloading my icons and apps, it didn’t happen. So, I took out my laptop and did things the old fashioned way: I logged on and checked my email three or four times a day and used my smart phone for calls and texts only.

The result?


The feeling?

Less frenetic.

The organization?

Insanely better.

Who knew that a little human being could change things around for me, stemming from an accidental oops?

Marie Kondo, the #1 New York Times Best selling author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” has a strategy similar to Olivia’s method:

“Kondo recommends reading and replying to emails and other messages all at once. Instead of spending a few minutes here, a few minutes there, she says you can be much more productive if you are completely focused on the task at hand…”

Kondo is not suggesting that we read emails on laptops only: She can roll with smart phones, laptops, whatever. Her point, however, is to be intentional about when we do it and devote the time to do only that instead of multi-tasking and checking every other email that comes in.

I finally did get my email app up and running on my smart phone. Now, however, I am more conscious of how many times I check it. When I sit down and deliberately take time to sort through email and messages–be it on my phone or computer–I am a more efficient, productive and most importantly, present employee, mom and partner.

Namaste, Olivia. Keep rocking your zen self and showing mom the way.




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