Google’s new project Inbox is phenomenal.
There are a couple fundamental changes to the typical approach to email that make it an incredible email management system. . . and metaphor for understanding how your mind works.
Instead of marking email read or unread, Inbox allows you to mark messages as Done. This subtle change acknowledges most of your incoming messages are to-do items that require some sort of action beyond simply having been read or unread.
If you are not able to complete an email, but will be able to address it later, Inbox allows you to “Snooze” email for a later time or place.
For example, if you get a work-related email while you’re home, you can snooze the email with the location-based trigger of your work address. When you get to work in the morning, the email will pop back up in your Inbox.
This ability to snooze emails is phenomenally helpful as it allows you to manage your emails as they come in, even if that means delegating the email to a future self who will be in a better position to address whatever the email is asking you to do.
A huge problem develops, however, if you snooze all your messages without ever fully addressing them. Pretty soon, your inbox becomes cluttered with old emails you’ve snoozed 10 times, new incoming messages, reminders of forgotten tasks, and very quickly there are too many messages to know which ones are worth your full attention and which ones are only time wasters.
What does this have to do with your mind?
Inbox is exactly like your mind. Your thoughts, emotions, and all creations of your mind are like incoming email. Some things you can deal with right away, and mark Done.
Some things you’d rather not deal with right now, so you snooze them by shoving them out of sight into your subconscious. Maybe they’re too powerful, unpleasant, or painful.
Problems arise when all your snoozed issues start resurfacing. If you continue to ignore them, your Inbox clutters up with older and older issues along with new incoming issues.
Pretty soon your mind is so cluttered that you can’t focus, and you’re paralyzed under the weight of too many issues.
If you don’t set aside time to deal with each issue and mark it Done, you’re only making the future worse for yourself.
There are techniques that will help you keep clear Inbox and you can find some of those in the e-book 10 Elements of an Effective Mind which you can get in the sidebar to the right.
Remember, ignoring an issue is only a temporary fix at the expense of your future well-being. Deal with it now, and deal with it permanently.