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Profound wisdom

Wednesday 13 August 2008

Just under two weeks away from home and my fingers have forgotten how to type so it’s lucky you can’t see how many times I hit backspace. That’s not my point today, though. My point is that I came back to more than sixty emails. That’s not many by your standards (or by my own former standards) but, at the rate I get through my backlog these days, it’s a lot. And in three days home I’ve only had an hour and a bit to deal with these, and more coming in of course. So first, I sorted by sender.

Most of what arrived from eBay was hits on searches I’ve set up, most of which are vague and optimistic or things I’m watching to get a feel for the kind of prices they’re going for. In other words, all ignorable.

Others from eBay and from PayPal were receipts for payment for items that were delivered while we were away. If I’d read those when they came in, I’d have kept them only until I’d checked the items were all present and correct.

I resist subscribing to email newsletters because of the time they waste take to read. But I did succumb to HowStuffWorks. I get a few recipe suggestions from, RecipeZaar and similar websites. Usually I glance at the recipe titles and occasionally copy and save one or two that look easy, tasty, and different from the dressed-up everyday (pasta with varied sauces, chicken casserole with varied veg, etc). Others that I use in this way are from Talking Crochet with Carol Alexander and other crochet and knitting sites (I forget which at the moment), which I’m more likely to save because, as an almost-raw beginner, I’m still building a collection of patterns for the basics. And Shoot tells me when to prune and take cuttings, and so on. Useful as all this kind of email is, though, when trying to economise on time, as today, I can get rid of it without looking at any.

As for the “Season’s new catalogue”/ “Our latest bargains” type of mailing, from companies I may happily have used but don’t want to browse at their say-so, I always delete those anyway without wasting an instant on them. (Did I say without wasting an instant? Impossible, but on a good day not more than an instant.) I like to look through their pages in comfort on my sofa and minimise my screen-reading time. So far I’ve been happy with the service from the likes of Bibliophile and the Book People but still I prefer to choose and order in my own time, not when they tell me to.

On a tangent, is this a bit like the art of NotLeaping as soon as the phone rings? It’s a habit easily learnt if you concentrate for a few days, to remember that you have plenty of time to put down your cup of coffee, switch off or mute the tv, answer the question your partner just asked you and amble across the room without pulling a muscle in your haste, before the third ring. When you realise that the dring-drings sound three seconds apart and realise how long three seconds IS, you see how laid-back you can afford to be. Then you retain your dignity as well as being able to take a deep breath if you need to before answering. My old Alexander technique teacher told me this is called the Alexander Pause. In the same way, we can refuse to be commanded by impersonal mailings and don’t-miss-this announcements.

By now I’d deleted nearly two thirds of my Inbox, and sorting by sender had made the spam obvious, therefore easy to remove. It also means I was able to delete my mails up to twelve at a time (in the case of eBay) instead of singly. I’m all for saving seconds.

What remains is from friends. It’s easy to decide which need replying to straight away (and those can be zapped as soon as I’ve replied, too) and which I will keep to look forward to composing a more chatty response.

So, that remaining third of my emails, plus the few from eBay and PayPal that I’d have held onto briefly if I’d seen them before they were out of date, were all I really needed.

So – I can tell all the others not to pester me any more.



I’ll blog for you when I discover the profound truth of how to find the strength not only to cancel extraneous mailings but also to refrain from subscribing to any more and to be consistent in this.  ;0)

Postscript: I don’t feel too guilty about getting clogged up with unnecessary but reasonably interesting information. For one thing, so many people have the same problem. That doesn’t make it admirable but it does show how hard it is to avoid. Simple, you’d think, to be selective. Yes, but it’s one of those things that is Simple But Not Easy. SBNE! Secondly, the useless is not useless, luxury is a necessity, leisure is essential. I’ll blog about that as well. When I get through all these mails…

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