Dear Annie: As of this writing, I have 6,972 unread emails.
A lot of them are promotions from stores I shopped at once. Some are from social media sites, telling me I have notifications – Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest – which I hardly ever check.
I guess I never got into the habit of deleting these messages as they came in, and then once the pile started growing, it just seemed so overwhelming that I gave up even trying. I wish I could just delete everything and start fresh, get my inbox back down to zero.
In some cases, I have emails from people I would like to talk to. For instance, my cousin, whom I haven’t talked to in over a year, emailed me last month. I’ve kept putting it off until I have enough time to sit down and write a thoughtful response. Now it’s been so long I feel awkward about replying.
I have a similar problem with voicemail. I delay checking my messages, and sometimes I just ignore them altogether.
After I click “send” on this email to you, I’m going to have anxiety about seeing your response. What is wrong with me? I feel paralyzed. How can I begin to tackle this? – Inbox Infinity
Dear Inbox: Procrastination and anxiety are each other’s best cheerleader. Anxiety encourages procrastination, and vice versa. Remove one of them and you’ll deflate the other.
So start by calming down. Tell yourself, “Nothing catastrophic is going to happen because I didn’t delete emails.” Although such a laissez-faire attitude might seem counterproductive, it’s a lot easier to get moving once you take that enormous weight off your shoulders.
Then snap to it and get that inbox under control, first by plugging the dam so you can prevent floods of promotional emails in the future. Open the latest email you received, and scroll to the bottom. Look for the “unsubscribe” button (in microscopic font). Do that for every major vendor that’s flooding your inbox.
Next, delete with abandon. Trash every promotional email that’s more than a week old. Resist the urge to save emails “just in case.” If you were really interested in reading last week’s Pinterest newsletter, you already would have.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Miffed,” about her experience with a friend who was not there for her during a medical scare. I, too, had a friend who I thought would always be there for me – especially because I had been there for her through a lot of stuff. However, when my husband went in the hospital and was given a very upsetting diagnosis, she was not there. No phone call, no visit, nothing. Also, the day after he was released from the hospital, I turned 50 and his mother died. Again, nothing from this friend whom I had been so very close to.
It took me a while to get over the anger and hurt and to move on without her in my life. I put the anger and hurt in an imaginary box and nailed it shut and handed it over to the Lord. Once I did this, I was able to focus on the good things and the good people in my life who were there for me. I hope “Miffed” will move on and appreciate what her other friends and family members did and are doing and realize that this person is no longer of importance in her life. – Over Being Miffed
Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.