The flurry of communication every day is so overwhelming, I heard someone say that they needed to hire someone simply to manage their inbox. In the course of one day, he had accumulated hundreds of unread emails. It is crushing. Add to this the daily phone calls, both personal and professional, text messages from friends and loved ones, and your own personal email inbox and the urge to headbutt the screens that surround us becomes an attractive option.
I’ve noticed that when we become overwhelmed, people often try to cull, cut back, clear the clutter. And the first thing to go? Personal lives, going out with friends, emailing your old college roommates, talking for hours with your mom on the phone. It all goes first, right out the window of your downtown high-rise. Still surrounded by screens, and buildings, the noises of the city, and the dinging of your inbox as each new email comes in. Still surrounded by obligations.
And even when you do try to “cull” or “say no” to things, I guarantee you find out pretty quickly that you can’t really say no to applying for that leadership position, and you can’t say no to seeing an old friend, or having brunch with your mom, or writing that brief, or bringing dinner to your grandparents. It’s all important.
How should we manage all of this important stuff? Usually, I have some sort of tip or trick. But there isn’t anything that’s going to make it any easier. Try your best to walk the tightrope, be protective of your weekends, don’t stay at the office too late, tell everyone you love how much you love them. But some days, just embrace the beautiful chaos and keep smiling.