A few weeks ago, Naomi over at IttyBiz suggested we “clean up our email”. She meant, make sure your taglines don’t suck and you don’t say stupid shit, because “forward” is always an option to anyone you send anything to, so be sure you’re saying clever and nice things and ending on a good note.
I took that to heart. I also took it one step further, and started unsubscribing myself from email lists I don’t read anymore.
Then, I found that so refreshing I started filtering out emails I don’t read regularly but still need to get (gmail’s filter systems are awesome). I got to removing myself from forums I don’t actually use. Unsubscribing from blogs I’m no longer interested in. Unfollowing Twitter people I don’t actually know or want to read all the time. I started weeding out the eleventy billion unnecessary contacts from my email and my phone (a long process that I’m taking in steps).
Then I closed my computer and looked around. What could I do in the Real World™ to mirror my progress in Internet Land?
I hung a “no soliciting” sign on our front door (it even has a little businessman with a briefcase under a no symbol on it). I joined the National Do Not Call list. I started the process to stop getting junk mail.
Then I noticed the silence.
My phone now rarely interrupts me, and when it does, it’s someone I want to talk with. My email notifier rarely pings me – and when it does, it’s email I’m actually interested in reading. My feed reader isn’t overfull and stressing me out. My Twitter bird chirps, and I’m excited to see who said what. My doorbell hardly ever rings, and it’s a friend when it does. And my mailbox isn’t stuffed to the brim every day with recycle fodder.
At first, I felt lonely. I was so used to my notifiers pinging me every few minutes (seconds on a busy day). I was so used to my phone being a burden, used to the doorbell announcing an unwanted solicitor once a day or more, used to being swamped.
I’m not swamped now. I have long hours of uninterrupted quiet. I can focus on the big important things instead of being constantly distracted by the stale, now-unwanted crap with which I’d filled my life. There was an adjustment period, where I wondered what was missing.
But now I know it’s not something missing – it’s something wonderfully more. I haven’t lost anything. I’ve gained peace. Quiet. Time. And now, I make connections consciously and carefully, aware of what I’m doing instead of clicking on autopilot.