Awash with Emails

I purchased a new laptop last week. The old one is still working, but it is slow and I’ve always had trouble with its dodgy space bar. That’s not the main reason, however; my partner and I are off on an adventure in late May and I plan to share my reflections on the new sights, experiences and different climes we’ll experience. The old laptop is too heavy to cart across the planet, hence the recent purchase. airplane

I’m a baby boomer but I know my way around most of my computer’s settings. I’m also reasonably skilled in problem solving (aka ‘trouble shooting’), mostly with the help of Google and YouTube. Is there no question these two sites can’t answer? I decided, therefore, I’d configure the new laptop myself. I didn’t want to bother my eldest son, my youngest son is off with his wife on their adventure and my partner is not, shall I say, as confident with computers as I am. I therefore cheerfully launched into setting up my little laptop, thinking it would take, at the most, a day or two.

That was a week ago.

Scrivener and I handled the transition superbly. Dropbox likewise. My precious photographs were transposed safely (I saved them to a USB just to be sure) and my word processing package seemed to settle into its new home with its numerous files intact. Facebook … well, Facebook is Facebook. Like water, it seeps into the tightest of crevices. And if you’re reading this then the WordPress platform also handled the shift well.

And then there was the email. It should have been simple. I felt I did my part: I planned my approach; I saved important emails; I followed the instructions, but to no avail. I’ve spent the last four days grappling with the beast that is my ‘personal information manager’ while my blog and other writing has languished.emails

I decided to pay a visit to my old laptop this morning, to check my email. One hundred and ninety five emails were downloading, the very emails I managed to head off on the new laptop. Yes, dear reader, I faced down an email tsunami, one I somehow caused but had no idea how I’d done so. Naturally, I did what every semiskilled computer user does; I panicked, shut the old laptop down and disabled the email platform on the new laptop. It’s obvious now that I need a son (or two) to help me undo whatever I’ve done. In the meantime, I can check emails on the Internet. And my phone. And my iPad.

martin_szajaThe point of this post is not my wounded Boomer pride but the irony of the situation. I am a born communicator who failed to set up a simple communication network. I don’t venture into the world and talk to actual human beings as much as I used to and I certainly don’t teach communication skills any more; I connect to the world through emails. I love writing emails, more often little stories tolerated, for the most part, by my friends. I have turned some of these missives into blog posts. But even though I can still communicate with the outside world, maybe it’s time to reflect on my relationship to my emails. I believe the real problem is not that I enjoy communicating via email, it’s the volume of email traffic that swamps my computer, emails I organise under cunningly named labels so I can locate and read them later. The other problem is, as well as my WordPress subscriptions, I subscribe to several (to tell the truth, dozens), of literary and writing websites. I suspect I accrue the equivalent of three large book’s worth of emails to read each week. Of course I can’t keep up; I simply file an email under its label and tell myself I get back to it one day.

Maybe the Email Goddess is trying to tell me something. Is it time to unsubscribe, yet again, from a few sites? Should I delete emails from before (and after) 2013? Will I ever read them? And yet, as I sorted, prior to the email deluge, through my old emails, I found some interesting stuff: notes concerning my PhD research that I’d forgotten I had; early photographs of my precious granddaughter; emails to and from my partner when we were courting; emails to my children and three emails from my father, written just before he died.  Among the polluted polynya that is my email cache, there are a few gems I’d like to scoop up and put to good use if possible.  antarctica-1987579__340

If it’s not possible, I have to accept that a part of my life is undergoing a thorough purge. But before I do that I’ll call my son and ask when he can visit me and work out what I’ve done and how to fix it.

 

How confident are you with managing your computer? Do you receive dozens of emails a week that you never read? Have you found old gems among your email or other files?

 

8 thoughts on “Awash with Emails

  1. You are so clever Janet. I struggle with the constant changes to the digital world. Most comfortable with pen and paper.
    There are Luddites in my genealogy. My great great grandfather Thomas Burbury was transported to Van Diemans land when he was in his early twenties, accused of setting fire to a factory which threatened the livelihoods and skills of those who worked in the cottage Industries.

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    1. Wow, more power to the magnificent Thomas! You come from radical stock my friend. As for being ‘clever’ I think I manage because I understand, with the help of my boys, that computers speak a totally different language. I am familiar with some words and phrases, I might even be able to read street signs or news headlines, but I am nowhere near fluent. Given last week’s problems it could well be a case of a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Cheers my friend, Janet.

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  2. I just keep deleting from my Word Press manager blogs that are not posting often. My new rule of thumb is, if I don’t have a back and forth relationship with them they don’t stay on my list. That’s not to say I don’t visit folks I don’t know well or converse with often, but I’ve realized my time is an investment and I’ve got to use it wisely. So must of what I get in my email box is WP notifications. There are a few normal emails, but I’ve always kept them to a bare minimum. I’m much happier now that I feel I’m kind of in control of my time.

    (And you’ll probably smack me for this, but I was wondering if I could borrow your email address for ONE email for Lent. If you’re ok with that, you can leave it on my Drop Me A Note page. And if you don’t want to add more pick-up stix, that’s ok, too. 😀 )

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    1. First, happy to give you my email address and will drop it to you in a moment. Secondly, you mentioned culling emails several months ago so I followed your lead and deleted somme subscriptions but then I suscribed to several more. I must go through them and cull some more. My problem is probably the emails from other sites, not WordPress but websites. It occured to me recently that I still suffer from ‘imposter syndrome’ as in, ‘who am I to think I am a writer? I’d better subscribe to this website and learn hoow to write.’ You’d think that after doing a PhD in Creative Writing I’d have that problem sorted by now. I need to give myself a good talking to and delete some of those subscriptions. As for others, well they are sites where I might submit stories. The rub here is, and this is really nuts, I am so busy reading these sites I don’t have time to submit. I need to get off that merry-go-round! Cheers, Janet

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  3. I had an email log jam which I battled with for months. I’d done the very same thing as you – subscribe, neatly archived and filed for later perusal. Most of which never happens. The problem that i didn’t know was that it slowed down everything, most of all emails. I complained. Eventually our friendly IT man (the one we hire when all else fails) told me that I had too much archived in my mailbox. It simply could not function properly becuase of the clutter that was clogging it up. So I had a HUGE clean out. Ruthless. Unsubscribed from sites I thought were interesting but never had time to get to. Instead, I have bookmarked them into folders on my oolbar. Which I now need to do and declutter as well ! But it generally works OK.
    What I got rid of I don’t miss. The very few special ones I copied and saved into word docs.
    Good luck !

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    1. Thanks for this insight Raili especially the information about clogging up my email. It’s a bit, I suspect, like a traffic jam (and we have plenty of those in Adelaide at the moment). I also had sites saved on my toolbar but I suspect they have gone too. Your comments are encouraging; what is (maybe) lost has made room for something new and maybe better.Cheers, Janet

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      1. Jim, our IT guru, told me that using the ‘archiving’ folder system in emails still affects its functionality, slowing it down markedly the more you archive. It’s what I used at work, and we were told it was a good option there. But then, it was a government IT system that had lots more oomph than most home based ones. I just carried the practice over to home – and…
        Yeah, you’re right about Adelaide traffic. I avoid hotspots as much as possible !
        Keep cool 🙂

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