Inbox Zero: Life Goal or Time Waster?

I’m subscribed to a lot of newsletters. I really don’t read blogs unless they go to my main inbox, and I really like to read other blogs, so every single day my inbox overflows. And then sometimes bloggers link to other bloggers they like, and I subscribe to those blogs too, so the mail pile continues expanding exponentially.

Yesterday I decided enough was enough. I began going through my inbox, archiving and deleting. I thought I could simply check ‘Get to Inbox Zero’ off my to do list, but I remembered why I had allowed the ol’ mailbox to get as unwieldy as it has- I know it takes a longgggg time to clear the mail out. Yesterday, I worked on the task for an embarrassing number of hours, and got down to a little over 600 emails from over 2000. But I still have a ways to go. And the emails that are left to sort are the longest and best.

Part of my issue is that the sheer length of some of the blog posts/newsletters takes up the bulk of my sorting time. I’m never just sorting- I’m reading.

As I read, I believe it will be even nicer to reach the ultimate goal of Inbox Zero. Hooray! But as my mailbox begins to fill up again, I wonder: Is this a worthy goal? Or an Absolute Complete Waste of My Time? Maybe my time would be better spent eliminating subscriptions from my inbox- but that might be even harder to do. Or maybe I just need to delete the old stuff without even reading it and start anew. Or maybe I should just ignore it all entirely and let it build to epic proportions.

Often times I’m working a medical convention and notice a doctor’s inbox has somewhere along the lines of 10,000-40,000 unread emails inside of it. At first I’m shocked and judgemental- I can’t believe the doctor has allowed this to happen. But then I think, well, perhaps these doctors actually have better things to do than sort through their emails. Like, I don’t know, save lives and stuff. Hmmm…

What are your opinions on getting to and staying at the fabled Inbox Zero?

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Fear of Loss in Relationships

When it comes to sustaining peaceful romantic relationships, I’m not the best. I try really hard, but I have bad anxiety, and that makes me fear the worst. My brain can get caught in a negative thought loop pretty quickly — “Will this last?” “Does he love me enough?” “What if he learns more about me and doesn’t want to be with me anymore?” Or worst, I place too much emphasis on the micro-moments of the relationship (like, what does it mean that he normally texts me around this time, but today he didn’t?) that I forget about to be present.  GAH! It’s enough to drive anyone insane.

So, basically, I’m terrified of losing, to the point where I may self-sabotage myself to subconsciously have the relationship end. Stupid, right?

I’m not sure how to get rid of this nagging feeling, other than the normal things, like going to therapy and obsessively googling self-help websites for fixes. I’ve read a lot of Buddhist teachings about how you need to recognize that you can’t be attached to anything forever. And by truly accepting that, you won’t suffer. But still, it’s hard to not feel deep attachment to someone you love.

I just know that I can’t act from that place of fear – from the fear of the relationship ending at any point. I have to remind myself that acting out of fear is destined to cause problems in any relationship I may have, because I’m not present.

One mind trick that helps me when I’m feeling anxious about my relationship is to think about the absolute worst case scenario. And when I think about how it’s not life or death, I know I will be okay.

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Can the 5 Love Languages Help Me Live Happily Ever After In My Thirties?

Have you heard of the 5 love languages? If not, you might be wondering why you’re having trouble connecting to certain people. Dr Gary Chapman, author of the book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Laststalks about 5 languages that people ‘speak’ when it comes to feeling loved and expressing love.

These languages are:

  1. Words of affirmation
  2. Quality time
  3. Gifts
  4. Acts of service
  5. Physical touch

Dr Chapman, a marriage counselor for over 30 years, says that the love language that you speak to experience love is usually the same language you speak to offer love. So if your love language is ‘acts of service,’ you might feel especially loved when your partner does the dishes for you when you’re tired or when he or she cooks you dinner. And since your love language is ‘acts of service’ you might express love to your partner by driving him to work in the morning, or helping her carry some heavy boxes, or fixing his phone.

But issues can arise if and when your partner doesn’t speak the same language as you. So if your language is acts of service, like above, and you’re showing your partner how much you love him or her by doing tasks like the ones above, your partner might not feel the love if his or her love language is ‘words of affirmation.’ A partner whose love language is words of affirmation would want to hear you say nice things out of the blue- such as ‘I love you’ – and would want you to tell him or her all the happy things you’re feeling regarding the relationship.

This is where wires can cross and you or your partner can start to feel unsatisfied. If you feel love physically, obviously sex is important, but so are other acts of touch like hand holding and hugging. But again, if you’re with someone who feels love through quality time spent together, they might spend time with you and concentrate on you, but not give you massages or put their arms around you or kiss you enough for you to feel loved.

And quality time is an interesting one, because Dr Chapman differentiates between time spent together and QUALITY time spent together. Someone whose love language is ‘quality time’ likely saddens if their partner is constantly looking at a cellphone during times together, or isn’t making eye contact or actively listening during a conversation.

I definitely feel that love languages are real, but that there are love language combos, and that most people have more than one love language, though one might be stronger than the others. Here’s a test to take to find out what your love language is: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/

My main love language according to my results is ‘quality time,’ followed closely by ‘words of affirmation’ and ‘physical touch.’ I was surprised that Words of Affirmation or Touch weren’t the highest ranking ones, but I think all three are up there. The love languages don’t have all the answers to relationship communication issues, but there’s definitely some wisdom here.

What’s your love language? Do you agree with the love languages? Do you think the love languages help you with your relationships?

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