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Avoiding "Inbox Culture"

Seth Godin says this about inbox culture:

Years ago, I got my mail (the old fashioned kind) once a day. It took twenty minutes to process and I was forced to spend the rest of the day initiating, reaching out, inventing and designing. Today, it's easy to spend the whole day hitting 'reply'.

Carving out time to initiate is more important than ever.

These are some ways I tend to be reactive:

  • Letting my learning and blog posts (like this one) emerge as a response to what someone else says, rather than coming from inside myself. I'll look outside myself for topics, rather than formulating my own ideas.
  • Getting so caught up in deadlines and what I have to do NOW for clients that I lose sight of the fact that this too shall pass and I'll need to find new work to take the place of that which is making me crazy right now.I react to the birds in my hand and don't spend enough time hunting for new ones.
  • Thinking that I have to be immediately responsive to any and all requests, on and off-line. Usually this plays itself out as saying "yes" to most things, without necessarily thinking through the decision and what impact it might have on my life.

This isn't anything new or earth-shattering. More like a reminder to myself to stop reacting and start initiating.  Staying away from the computer helps, but also taking the time to listen to myself and to process all of the things that are going on now in my life. That creates the space to initiate because I can hear myself think.

Are you a victim of "inbox culture"? What do you do to keep a good balance between reacting and initiating? How do you create the space and time in your life to initiate?

Comments

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Tēnā koe Michele!

I believe that for most creative individuals, time to reflect is as important as time to think. There are background processes in the mind that need time to take place and my hunch is that we do not have much control of the speed of those. Writing helps me with reflecting and gives me time to think. But there are other less active things one does that are just as important and effective for this. 'Taking time out' doesn't necessarily only useful for unruly kids to reflect on things.

You mention getting caught up in deadlines with issues of clients and reacting to the birds in the hand. What ever happened to "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush?" :-)

Ka kite

Hey Ken--you're right that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, but in my business, you also have to be worried about where you're going to find your next bird! :-)

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