One way to build your choosing muscles.

In my quest for inbox zero yesterday, I was inspired to unsubscribe from a bunch of stuff I had subscribed to.  I had reached my limit. There was just too much information coming in with too many choices to make. Read this. Do this. Listen to this. Sign up for this. Augh!

So some of it had to go.

I’m always amused by how much doubt and ick can come up when doing this. What was odious a moment before suddenly becomes a personal rejection or failure to seize important opportunities or knowledge. And then I laugh remembering I can always sign up again, screw up my courage and leave already. (For crying out loud, it’s just a mailing list!)

It felt good. So good I got a little caught up in the purging. What a relief!

It was so good I was reminded why I do this sort of thing regularly and why it’s my #1 Rule of email management (there’s more – if you’re curious you can get the free guide here).

It’s one small yet really useful way to practice saying no.

In the same way folding the laundry can be a way to practice finishing, this little act of simplification can be a way for me to practice working through those moments of doubt and ick that make saying no to the big stuff a bit easier. And I get a cleaner, roomier inbox in the process. Fantastic.

It’s a small but important part of taking responsibility for my overwhelm, building my choosing muscles, and knowing just how much is enough.

• • • • •

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8 Responses to “One way to build your choosing muscles.”


  1. 1 Braden Russom May 20, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    Ha! You’re so right on about folding the laundry as an excercise in finishing. Gosh, that feels good.

    Additionally, it can be a great exercise in mindfulness. Taking one piece of clothing at a time, folding it correctly, and placing it in a neat pile with it’s friends. Do it with no music or no TV, and you quickly find yourself cultivating a very peaceful state of mind.

    Anyway – Glad to have found your blog. Havi speaks very highly of you.

    • 2 Cairene May 20, 2009 at 2:46 pm

      @Braden –
      I like the idea of finishing being about practicing being really present to what needs doing now. So often we don’t finish because we’re sure something *else* needs doing now instead of what is right in front of us. It can create calm in so many ways.

  2. 3 gretchenwegner May 20, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Hold the phone! For me, PUTTING THE FOLDED LAUNDRY AWAY is a better finishing practice. I’m great at folding clothes, but then they sit around in piles.

    Really appreciating this reminder to unsubscribe. I’m going to go unsubscribe to 5 right now.

    • 4 Cairene May 20, 2009 at 2:41 pm

      @gretchen
      Oops. Yes, there are *two* steps there – each their own obstacle to finishing. ;P
      Cheers to your unsubscribing!

  3. 5 Janet May 20, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    I do a regular purge on both email and my bloglines subscription, and found one successful technique – if it’s a blog or sender that I ALWAYS open immediately, they stay! If I sometimes delay to savor and enjoy and process, they stay! If I sometimes read their stuff, and sometimes not, and generally feel “meh” – they’re totally out!

    Guess what? You’re IN! :)

    • 6 Cairene May 20, 2009 at 2:38 pm

      @Janet
      First: Yay! I’m in! [flattered – thank you]
      Second: I love love love your gauge of what’s a keeper and what’s not. Brilliant. And easy.

  4. 7 Justin May 20, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    Practicing finishing. What an awesome summation of the concept. I love it!

    I mean, if you want to get good at anything, you have to practice, and it’s usually best to start with something small when it’s a new skill. Putting stuff away is a great place to start.

    • 8 Cairene May 21, 2009 at 9:23 am

      @Justin
      I like to think of it as coming sideways at things. We don’t have to tackle stuff head-on to learn or make progress.


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