As adults a great part of our life is about the limited amount of time and energy we have in each day and how we choose or don’t choose to use it.  Many years ago I took a management class which was mainly fluff and incredibly basic, but there was one gem that I have remembered from it.  If you don’t manage your Inbox, then it will manage you.  Your day and possibly your life (thanks to never being unplugged) will be a constant attempt to get the tail to stop wagging the dog and you will chase the illusion of ‘finally.  It’s all taken care of’ until you are burned out or fired.  You’ll never be successful, you’ll never be happy, your productivity will be reduced to nothing while your energy output will be incredibly high and no one will be happy, especially your bosses.  Unless they like busy work.  Then they’ll be ecstatic until they see the revenue forecast for the next quarter.

So what’s the answer?  Time management.  It doesn’t matter how many fires are burning down the building, set aside a few hours each day to do what you need to get done.  Make them mandatory, not optional.  Make them the same every day and stick to your guns.  Don’t allow interruptions.  Period. And people will try to interrupt.  Because their issues, ideas, random thoughts or just plain boredom will always trump whatever you have going on.  Be tough, be strict, be honest, and carve out the time to take care of the Inbox.  You’ll find that the rest of the day doesn’t wag you, if you do, because you will have dealt with the priorities in life. Just like the Steward on the plane tells you every time, you need to put your air mask on first because if you don’t you won’t be around to help the person next to you anyway. (They say it much more genteelly than that, but we all get the picture if we’re paying any attention at all.  Which most of the time we’re not.)

The same thing goes for normal day-to-day life.  Yes, with kids, with family, with careers, and meetings, and all of the things we jam into our lives at this point.  It gets to the point where we just bounce from one thing to the next all day until we get to the end and realize that everything else got done except what we wanted, which causes the whole day to feel like a disaster or a tragedy.  Well, tomorrow is another day, so do something different instead of the same thing again, like Groundhog’s day.  It’s not entirely fate or random happenstance that gets you in that situation.  You participated in the process, so time to change how that gets done.  Carve out the hour to two hours you need to take care of you.  Or choose to prioritize what you need one day a week.  Have a special occasion you want to celebrate, get a baby sitter for the entire day so you can be ready for the certain someone.  Need time to yourself, start putting yourself down for naps and getting up early.  Need to focus on working out, work to get the distractions out of the way during the day or the night before so there is nothing to stop you from reaching your goal.

Make yourself as much of a priority as everyone else in your life.  Make time for you each and every day and make that time quality instead of a scraped together minute in between everything else.  Make self care a necessary part of every day because if you don’t think you’re good enough to be taken care of, it really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, right?