6 Tips For Not Letting Email Rule Your Life

I think everyone can agree that email is stressful. It’s surprisingly easy to let your email inbox keep you on a emotional leash without being aware of it. So I’d like to share with you the best ways I’ve found to fight back and keep email in its place (somewhere after maintaining general happiness).

1. Prioritize your email responses. It is important to remember that you don’t owe anything to people looking to monopolize your time without paying for it.

2. Keep your work email and personal email in separate apps on your mobile device. I use the mailbox app for work mail which has a nifty system for prioritizing emails, and the normal iphone mail app for my personal email accounts.

3. Don’t enable push notifications for your personal email. This way you only have to deal with personal emails on the go when you have the time. I enable push notifications for work emails on my phone, but use mailbox’s option to only show a “1” flag for any number of new messages to cut down on potential stress.

4. Use the flag or star functions to mark important emails so you won’t forget about them later.

5. If your email load is truly immense, popping specific emails that you need to remember to respond to into a program like asana can be helpful. This adds an element of instant gratification when you check off the ‘completed’ box for said email.

6. Try not to get in the habit of sending personal emails from your work account. This will just make things more confusing. If you’re working with browser email, keep your work account open in a normal window and your personal email open in an incognito or private browsing mode window.

No Excuses, Play Like A Champion

url-1Friends on the east coast are always surprised when they hear about my annual pilgrimage to Coachella. Whenever the topic comes up I hear the same frustrating sentence, nearly word for word. “I would love to go to Coachella, but it conflicts with school/work/life. Maybe someday.”

It isn’t this sentence that bugs me so much, but the mentality, the attitude implied.

Someday I plan on having a family, a few kids, and a well established 401k. Now is the time to do the things that responsibility will prevent (or at least make logistically more difficult) later in life.

When I first began making the mid-April pilgrimage to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival back in 2010, I had no idea that the festival would come to have a major impact on my life. As a lover of live music, I had dreamed about going to Coachella ever since first coming across my dream line-up of bands as a wee sixteen-year-old.  So when my freshman year of college rolled around and I finally had the opportunity to go, I jumped at the chance, and never looked back.

Each year that I’ve returned to Coachella I’ve learned new things about myself. I’ve experienced lessons in life, love and friendship, not to mention extreme heatunexpected rainstorms, group dynamics, channeling creativity, managing expectations, being prepared, and most of all, having fun.

Every time I go to Coachella, the three days of the festival seem to be concurrently the longest and shortest days of the year. I try to take a moment, each time I wait in line to enter the campsite on the Thursday evening before the festivities begin, to appreciate where I am, and the joyful rumpus that I know is about to take place. I know that before I have the chance to blink I will be strapped into an airplane seat, dirty and tired, with six to eight hours of travel ahead of me. It is during this time that I am best able to reflect on the year that has led up to this moment, and think back through my years of previous Coachellas.

I’ll leave you with a few nuggets of wisdom that I have collected over the last four years. 

When it comes to getting out of your comfort zone, don’t let yourself make excuses. Go on adventures with the people that you love. You will never regret getting to know them better, and you will learn more about yourself in the process. It may come as a surprise, but you can always learn new things about yourself, if you take the time to do so. You can never be too prepared, and you will never regret time spent appreciating art and nature.

 I may go back to Coachella next year, I may not, but I will be heading to Burning Man for the first time this August so I know one thing for sure: many more adventures await me. 

In Case Of Emergency, Alert Social Media

In Case Of Emergency

I found out about the explosions at the Boston Marathon yesterday from Twitter, while sitting in the Chicago O’Hare International Airport. My Twitter stream and Facebook news feed were flooded with hopes, prayers and news stories about the ongoing crisis. Googling “Boston Marathon explosion” brought me to a New York Times article posted two hours earlier. Flipping back to Twitter I saw someone had posted a Vine of the actual explosion. I hesitated for a moment, wondering if this was really something I wanted to watch, before clicking play. Police are now requesting videos or photos from anyone who witnessed the event in an effort to piece together what went so very wrong.

 With the slew of social media evidence of this atrocity joining the Internet’s infinite photo album of human suffering I have to wonder, to what extent are we being negatively desensitized by social media? It is obviously important to understand what is happening in the world, but how much is too much?

Another recent event comes to mind when considering the effects of social media on emergencies. One month ago a vigil was held in Brooklyn for a 16-year-old who had been killed by police. The shooting, however, was not the main story. Residents who participated in the vigil marched to the 67th precinct as a form of non-violent protest. Social mediaites present or following the story began to tweet about the protest with the tag “#brooklynriots.” Participants quickly became active on Twitter requesting that those tweeting about the event use “#brooklynprotest” instead, in order to prevent any misunderstandings about the nature of what was occurring. This points out the fragile nature of social media in emergency situations, and has opened up a debate about the use of specific words.

When social media acts as a rumor mill, it can have devastating effects. To me the real problem, however, is the effect that constantly updated news is having on the attention span of empathy. It is a safe bet that in one to two weeks from now the social media streams will be clear of mentions about the Boston Marathon explosions. They will be refilled with other information, likely including a few new disasters or catastrophes. My concern is that we are losing the ability to care about anything for more than a few weeks. Aren’t families still suffering from “superstorm sandy”? Once individuals confirm that their own loved ones are safe via text messages or phone calls, do they stop paying as much attention to a catastrophe if it doesn’t directly affect their lives?

I do believe social media has proved itself to be a valuable tool in times of emergency, but at the end of the day I still wonder, are we only concerned with what everyone else is talking about?