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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Are Your Problems Caused By Being Tired and Sleep Deprived?

For the past few months, I’ve been getting glorious sleep. Like, incredible, way more than just adequate sleep. I’ve been getting indulgent, 9-13 hour a night sleep. I’ve been prioritizing sleep heavily. More than socializing and partying and exercising and work.  And it’s been amazing.

With over 8.5 hours of sleep a night, my mind is clearer, my thoughts flow easier, I remember people’s names, facts stick with me, and I have much more positive energy and a way calmer outlook. Sleeping more is like eating 5 pounds of broccoli and exercising for 3 hours and working for 4 extra hours and going to a spa and getting a massage and a facial and a PhD all rolled up in one. Well, maybe not the PhD part exactly. But close.

I never realized that I needed more than nine hours of sleep before, because most people never get that, and it’s not known as ‘normal.’ And most of my life I’m pretty sure I’ve been walking around in a sleep deprived haze. Everything can seem a little harder to process when you’re sleep deprived- my feelings always felt a bit ‘gray.’ My thoughts always felt a bit duller when lacking sleep, and it was much harder hard to remember things or be infused with any kind of positive energy when running on less than eight sleep-filled hours.

My friend and fellow thirty-something coworker, Natasha, who I wrote all about in Playing Dress Up In Your Thirties, is one of my sleep inspirations. She sometimes races back to our hotel after work in order to get to sleep even faster- she claims she needs ‘instant sleep’ in order to get her necessary ten plus hours of sleep in before the next early workday and has no shame about grabbing the hours she needs. It’s pretty amazing to watch someone brag about making sure they get lots of sleep as opposed to bragging about being soooo busy all the time. It’s extremely refreshing to see someone prioritize such an important but seldom-respected part of a healthy lifestyle.

I’ve been getting a lot less sleep in the past few days because of my crazy work schedule in an exciting new city (St Louis), where I’ve really enjoyed spending every waking moment (pun intended) exploring. I haven’t been able to always race back to my hotel and get my much-needed sleep. And I can feel an extreme difference in my thought patterns. It’s been worth it to explore the city, but it’s still not a great feeling.

I intend to prioritize sleep once again, and stop staying up so late. Starting now. And soon I will get back to my amazing nine to thirteen hours in bed. Goodnight!

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Knowing the Difference Between Labor Day, Veterans Day and Memorial Day by Your Thirties

Happy Labor Day! Today’s post is a repost from this past Memorial Day, but I thought it was timely. Hope you had some good barbecue and are enjoying every last bit of the summer!

Last year on Labor Day, a friend of mine was wondering whether or not to thank the military. (Short answer- sure, thank the military- but not because of Labor Day. Labor day has nothing to do with the military- it’s about American workers.)

Last Memorial Day, I overheard someone asking the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. This was not a child asking- it was someone in their fifties

So in case you’re not sure of the differences between the holidays, but are too embarrassed to ask, lets clear up the confusion right now, anonymously 😉

Memorial Day: Memorial Day is for honoring and remembering military personnel who died serving their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of battle wounds. The holiday originated right after the Civil War and is always celebrated the last Monday in May because that’s when flowers are blooming to decorate the graves of the dead. Read more about Memorial Day here.

Veterans Day: Veterans Day is a day to thank EVERYONE who’s served in the military, whether in wartime or peacetime. The day is especially to thank living veterans for their service, and to really show that all those who served, and not just those who died, have done their duty. Veterans Day was created after World War I and is always celebrated on November 11. Read more about Veterans Day here

Labor Day: Labor Day is dedicated to the contributions and achievements of American workers. It was created in 1887 by the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor. It’s always celebrated the first Monday in September. Read more about Labor Day here.

Hope your fantastic Labor Day weekend carries you into the fall and beyond!

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Are We The “Slash” Generation?

Have you seen the new Toshiba laptop/tablet commercial, where they show a young woman in her 20s who they describe as a “Director/DJ/Designer/Advocate/Entrepreneur” as they show her in her various roles/jobs? The commercial was made  to sell their tablet product, and in it, they say their product is perfect for the “slash” generation. It’s been playing constantly when I watch Hulu, and it drives me nuts.

I had never heard that we’re considered the “slash” generation. Generally, since I’m 33, I don’t feel like a millennial but  demographically, I am considered one (Born in 1982 – 1996). Being part of the “slash” generation means is that your career involves being a hyphenate, as in “writer – director – actor” – that sort of thing.

If you’re interested to read more about this phenomenon, here’s a great NY Times article from last year called “The Lives of Millennial Career Jugglers.” They profile six people who have multiple careers.

Personally, I don’t want to have a multi-hyphenate career. I want to be known as an expert at one thing and have hobbies on the side. Perhaps I can become very good at these hobbies, but I wouldn’t want to consider them a money-making path. Maybe that would somehow taint them.

But while my ideal is to not be a hyphenate, I’ve realized is that it’s become harder and harder to find one job that can completely financially sustain you if you don’t work in a traditional field (corporate company, doctor, lawyer, etc.) I think we have also become desirous to find creativity and personal passion in our work – even if it’s just one of our many “jobs” – such as DJ’ing on the weekends for instance.

Do you have a “slash” career? If you do, would you prefer not to?

Are You Working Too Hard On Your Relationship In Your Thirties?

“Relationships are hard work.”

I hear this a lot. And I think it’s kinda confusing.

Many things are hard work. Sometimes it’s hard work to drag myself out of bed when it’s really early. Or to figure out how to fix a laptop when it’s broken. There’s a good amount of work involved in completing a marathon. Or confronting someone when you’re upset with them. Or asking for a raise. Or building the Golden Gate Bridge.

I guess what I’m saying is that hard work is hard to define.

What constitutes hard work? What amount of work does it take… to build a relationship? Or to build an actual ship? To build the pyramids of Giza?

There’s a lot of different degrees of hard work. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and I’ve come up with a theory. I think it’s possible you’re working too hard in your relationship.

Relationships definitely take work. Most things that need to be built take some form of work. But there’s work that fits well with you and is flowing from a place of natural strength, and there’s work that doesn’t quite fit- the work of getting that octagonal peg in that frustrating triangular hole.

Let me explain. Think of the worst possible career you can imagine having. I asked a few people this question, and got some funny answers…I heard everything from embalmer to physics teacher to construction worker. One person even said ‘heart surgeon.’ Now, heart surgeon is a pretty complex and difficult career, and I can’t imagine doing it. It wouldn’t be exciting for me to have someone’s life in my hands like that on most days. I don’t think I’d be very good at being a surgeon because I’d be too anxious. I would dread going into work every day. I’d be downright afraid.

Now, if someone put a gun to my head and said “You HAVE to be a heart surgeon for the rest of your life or I’ll KILL you and everyone you know!!” I’d make the best of it. I’d work hard to make myself into the best doctor I could be. And it would be really, really hard.

However, there are people who very much LIKE being heart surgeons. It’s a competitive field! Those doctors go into the hospital everyday and are happy to work at their chosen career.

And get this- the heart surgeons who love being heart surgeons still have to do WORK….they can’t come into the hospital and go to sleep. They can’t eat Doritos in the corner after opening up a patient’s chest cavity. They can’t say “Eh, I don’t feel like it today. No surgery for you. I’m gonna go watch the Yankee game instead.”

There’s still hard work involved for a happy heart surgeon! But the work’s much easier because it goes with who the surgeon is and the career that fits with his or her personality.

Now, that same happy heart surgeon might feel like they’d have to do a ton more hard work if they were forced into a career as a model.

Do you see what I mean?

So, although it’s totally possible that you’re not doing enough work in the relationship that’s actually the right one for you (are you the happy heart surgeon eating Doritos in the corner while someone’s heart suffers?) it’s also possible that you’re doing way too much work (are you a physics teacher working your darndest to have a career as an embalmer?) Haha, okay, that’s weird, but you get the point.

Perhaps you’re following the good advice that relationships are hard work and so you’re working hard. But are you working too hard on the wrong thing?

It’s not an easy question.

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