Recently, I described myself as a “Renaissance minimalist.” A multifaceted life require a minimalist approach and a minimalist life requires a multifaceted approach. In this series, I’ll chronicle my various attempts to remove the unnecessary and focus on the (many) things that are important to me.
Over the past week or two, I’ve tried to unsubscribe from just about everything cluttering my inbox. I started by getting off mailing lists that I got unknowingly added to. Then, I deactivated Twitter and set my social media to only notify me if I get a message, request, post, etc. (i.e. stuff that requires a response). Finally, I unsubscribed to numerous blogs that I knowingly subscribed to – some as recent as a few weeks ago. My thinking is that if I want to check out the blogs, I will without prompting (plus, who doesn’t love finding a bunch of new posts on their favorite blog after some time away…)
The benefits of this are increased productivity and less stress – I’ve been “inbox zero + 10” (meaning I only keep up to 10 emails in my inbox at a time) for several years now and a uncluttered inbox just makes me feel calmer. Although it only takes a few seconds to delete unwanted emails, it can very easily derail my train of thought or send me down a rabbit hole of internet browsing.
The one drawback to it that I didn’t see coming was that it made me realize how very few emails are actually directed to me and requiring my specific attention. I still get plenty of correspondence from students or bandleaders, but I can’t go an hour or two and expect to find five new emails in my inbox like before. It makes me realize that although I crave an end to busywork to free up time for important things, I still crave the validation of feeling busy.
What would happen if you unsubscribed from even a small portion of unnecessary emails? Would it create more calm or a sense of sadness when your inbox wasn’t bursting with new emails? Either way, it’s worth a try. It’s a small, but crucial step towards learning how to eliminate the unimportant to focus on the important.