I had lunch with a new buddy on Friday, someone who’s based here in my adopted FLA city but with whom I share this weird geographical history centered around NYC and Newport, RI.
We’ve kind of been chasing each other around the planet, it seems, without ever actually meeting. Until now, in the land of scorching hot sunshine and verrrrry fast cars.
So my pal – we’ll just call C for now – is a very busy person. A hob-knobber and globe-trotter, with a packed work and social schedge.
As such, this was only our second lunch, spaced about five weeks apart.
In other words, I hadn’t seen C in a while, which I’d chalked-up to her jammed calendar. While my days are currently centered around the school run, a bit of tennis and making dinner (miracle of all miracles, my cooking is improving by leaps and bounds), C has a lot more going on.
But as it turns out, there was another reason I hadn’t heard from her for a spell:
She was in a major car crash.
A young woman barreled through a red light and plowed right into C’s car, pushing it, forcefully, into a nearby abandoned building. C narrowly escaped hitting a couple who were seated on a bench in front of the abandoned building; luckily they saw C’s car flying at them and were able to jump out of the way.
Thank the frigging universe, C is okay. She has to go to physical therapy every day, and hasn’t really worked in a month, but she’s here.
And because her car was totaled, she gets to shop for a shiny, sporty set of replacement wheels. So there’s that, I guess…
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know where I’m going with all this: Ever since my Friday lunch, my driving phobia has kicked back into high gear.
I’d already been giving myself a hard time about not really moving the needle on my driving, and now I’m spooked all over again.
Which is a set-back I can’t afford. Since we moved here in June, all I’ve done so far is scoot around town, probably in about a 20-mile radius of our pad.
Here’s all the stuff I haven’t done:
1. Driven on the highway.
2. Driven at night.
3. Driven the chic car in the pic above, which Hubby kind of got for me, because it’s compact and easier to park than our tank-like SUV.
I need to do all of those things, and I need to do them sooner rather later.
And I don’t need to use C’s car crash as an excuse to wimp out.
I read this amazing piece in Porter mag recently (please, how much are you j’adoring Porter? swoon times a million) that was all about the new trend of “Decade Dressing.”
The premise: You pick your favorite era, shop accordingly, and stick with it come hell or high water.
Is Ali Macgraw your hero, you bell-bottomed, 70s-loving minx? Or are you more of a (yikes!) Thierry Mugler, monster shoulder-pads, 80s kinda gal?
Like the author of the Porter piece, I will forever wave the 90s, Helmut Lang-era, minimalism flag.
Seriously, have you met me? I couldn’t be more stuck in the 90s than if I were snuggling up to Kurt Cobain in his coffin. Not only is the late, great Carolyn Bessette my style-crush North Star, I literally never get sick of Sex and the City re-runs.
Does the fact that I already own the entire boxed collection of SATC stop me from watching it on HBO?
Not in the slightest. In fact, just last night, while Hubby was out teaching his finance class, and the Wee Lass was holed-up in her room OD-ing on Shopkins videos on YouTube (don’t ask…), I binged on six back-to-back episodes.
They were from Season 6, the “Mikhail Baryshnikov as Aleksandr Petrovsky” arc, in which Carrie falls for the super-rich but self-involved (understatement of the century) Artsy Al and he sweeps her off to Paris.
And here’s the running loop in my Mommy Barbie brain as I plowed through those eps:
“Wait, her hair’s long again. Thank the frigging lord. I hated that chop she got at the end of Season 4. That was unfortunate. SJP really needs the length. And now she’s pushing 50 and her hair is crazy-long and curly again. Yay! Hmmm…maybe I can try that. But how can I get the beachy curls and by-pass the frizz?”
Look, I’ve never for one split second pretended that I’m a Deep Thinker. My inner life is made up almost entirely of hooey like improving the look and feel of my hair. I live for improving the look and feel of my hair.
So this morning, after deep-conditioning with an ancient (and now discontinued, sadness…) tube of Aveda Deep Penetrating Hair Revitalizer, then shampooing and conditioning (yes, again with the conditioner) with Carol’s Daughter Sacred Tiare Anti-Breakage and Anti-Frizz Sulfate-Free Shampoo and Conditioner, then piling on yet more conditioner in the form of Suave Professionals Natural Infusion Light Leave-In Cream, I tracked down something on the World Wide Interweb that I’m hoping might aid me in getting the 90s-ish, Dior watch-campaign hair in the pic here, and/or “SJP in Paris with Artsy Al” -caliber curls:
I’m not kidding myself; neither the broad in the 90s-ish, Dior watch-campaign ad above, nor SJP in any season of SATC did her hair herself using some drugstore set of foamy gew-gaws.
But I’m not a model in a Dior watch campaign. And I’m not SJP, either. I’m just a Momover Lady with Florida-frizzy, unruly hair. And I want to do something about it.
Are you a Doer or a Talker? I’m kinda both. (But guess what? One’s a lot better than the other. Snap.)
Looooong before I met The Man Who Would Be Hubby, I had this boyfriend who repeatedly barked at me:
“There are two kinds of people in this world: Doers and Talkers. Which one are you?”
Please, you already know which kind of person he was. No one who isn’t a Doer would ever have the balls to bark at other individuals in such a dastardly, judgy fashion.
Still, he truly was a model of self-discipline, a real Get Things Done kinda dude.
He was (is, I should say … he’s still alive) a music producer and a singer / guitarist and he used to crank out the most amazing tracks in the teensy walk-in closet in our NY apartment. You’d have thought he was Dr. Dre – minus the tricked-out mega studio.
He came from nothing, but because he was super-thrifty, he always had tons of dough in his bank account. So while I was chewing through fancy-purse credit card debt, he was investing in real estate.
And because he hit the gym daily, he had abs you could bounce a quarter off.
Which isn’t to say that Mr. Six-Pack-Stomach didn’t have flaws. Oh, but he did.
And I’m very happy to report that Hubby is every bit as self-disciplined and successful, but not even a fraction as judgmental.
Does Hubby want me to accomplish stuff? Bien sur.
But he’s not up in my grill about it. I’ll say: “OMG, my driving is horrendous.” And he’ll say: “I think it’s getting better every day!”
But back to this Doing vs. Talking stuff.
Clearly, as much as it bugged me at the time, this idea of Doing vs. Talking really struck a chord with me.
That’s because I can swing – wildly - between Doing and Talking.
In fact, about six weeks ago, I was out on a Saturday morning run with my FLA bestie Michelle, and she said to me:
“If you actually do some of the stuff you’ve been talking about recently, it will be so great.”
I stopped in the street and laughed my ever-loving ass off.
Was it an insult? Kinda. But it wasn’t meant to be. And it was sooooo spot-on.
What Michelle knew, and I knew, was that I really needed to finish one big project – my danawoodwriter.com portfolio website – before I could move on to anything else.
She wanted to introduce me to people in FLA who could connect dots to writing work, and she really couldn’t do that until I pulled the trigger on my site.
Happily, I did finally do that. Yay me.
But there have been a few bold declarations I’ve made this year – on this very website – that I didn’t follow through on.
Exhibit A: My New Year’s Res of meditating and dry-brushing my skin every day. I was on such a good roll with those two, and then we moved mid-year and my concentration and focus just completely blew up. Ironically – and stupidly, because I know better – meditating is the first thing that goes out the window when I’m stressed-out.
Exhibit B: My more recent proclamation that I would machete thru my massive Gmail inbox. Um, I haven’t been very successful on that front. (Today’s email count: 9368…grrrr…) But remember that processing hack I gave you about playing the spam card on lists that won’t let you unsubscribe? It works. You’re welcome.
Okay, since I’ve now “talked” for several minutes, I’m getting antsy to move on with my day and start “doing.”
So without further ado, here are…
5 Ways I Shift from Talking to Doing
1. I look at the single word taped to my computer:
That moves me out of Talking mode, and back into Doing mode. I don’t admire people who are all talk and no action. In other words, who don’t deliver. A little talk = okay. All talk = blech. I strive to stay outta Blech Territory.
2. I ask myself what my “frog” is, and I “eat” it.
This idea comes from one of the best productivity books I’ve ever read: Eat That Frog. The author challenges you to identify the one biggest, ugliest, scariest task you have on your plate – the one you most don’t want to do, but that will be the most beneficial to your goals – and dive into it first thing in the morning, before doing anything else. It’s a hard habit to get into, but so worth it.
3. Along with my frog, I make a really short To Do list.
Another gem, courtesy of another great productivity book – The Power of Less – by my crunchy crush, Leo Babauta. Leo’s thinking is that, with a massive To Do list, you’re probably including a lot of not-so-important stuff. And you’re not doing any of it very well. Go small, really focus, and knock it out of the park.
4. I recognize that I have both “on” and “off” days.
I hope this point doesn’t sound like a cop-out, because it isn’t. For whatever reasons – and it may have something to do with my hypothyroidism – I don’t have an equal amount of firing-on-all-cylinders brain power every day. So now, on my ‘off’ days, I do a lot of house-y stuff: Organizing, cleaning, laundry, cooking, etc. When I was toiling full-time at magazines, I would use my ‘off’ days to plan my story lineup, hold meetings with my kick-ass team, return emails, go on market appointments, etc. – anything I needed to do that didn’t involve writing.
5. When the day’s over, I wind down, hide the iPad and get some damn sleep.
While it might sound counter-intuitive, this is even more important following an ‘off’ day. I’ve just found it really helpful to “forgive” myself for not being hyper-productive in a professional, making-money kind of way. With down time and a good night’s sleep, I come back, guns blazing, the very next morning.
Beauty Armoire Monday: Dr. Brandt DNA Time Reversing Cream is scary good, in a how-can-this-be-happening way
There are a lot of beauty products on this little ol’ Planet Earth.
And I happen to own a few (million) myself.
So why am I writing about Dr. Brandt’s Do Not Age Time Reversing Cream again, after I just freaking wrote about it last month?
Because here’s what went down in Momover Lady-ville since the last time I wrote about DNA:
I decided to double-down, and use only that every night before I hit the hay.
The last go-round, DNA was part of a broader Beauty Armoire Monday post in which I chatted about the lunacy of feeling like you need face and body moisturizers in Florida, where the humidity rages on relentlessly.
(At least in the summer; I’ve only lived here a few months, so I don’t know what’s in store for me in the seasons to come.)
In that installment of BAM, I was toggling between DNA and another excellent (and far less spendy) moisturizer: L’Oreal Paris Youth Code Perfector Day / Night Cream.
Toggling is fine if A) you’re okay with having a million jars open at once, taking up precious bathroom (or Armoire) real estate and B) you don’t ever want to know whether a particular product really works.
That last point – Point B – is really at the heart of the matter.
Because here’s the deal: Most beauty products, particularly skincare, don’t show results for weeks – many weeks, as in tripping-over-into-months kinda weeks.
And most of us, myself included, don’t have the patience needed to tough it out.
That’s why that Neutrogena miracle creme “graveyard” commercial is so effective.
You’ve seen that, right?
Well here it is. You’re welcome.
Anyway, back to Dr. Brandt.
I love Dr. Brandt the person. He is extremely lovely. But beyond that, he is one of the most highly published derms around. Seriously. He cranks out so many studies, in so many peer-reviewed journals, that it’s a wonder he ever finds time to shoot Madge’s mug with so much damn Botox and fillers.
But he somehow he manages to not only publish, plump and create products, but also to bounce between his practices in New York and Florida and collect major, museum-caliber artworks in his spare time.
Soooo not a slacker, that Dr. B.
So what’s in his DNA creme, and why is it so good?
Though I attended the press event for the launch of DNA, I’d be hard-pressed to tell you what Dr. B’s “Juvenessence+ complex” – the special sauce in the DNA range of products – is all about.
And to be perfectly frank, his website doesn’t shed a whole lot of light on the subject either.
And FYI, DNA isn’t a natural product, so if avoiding chemicals is important to you, you’ll need to sleuth-out another fountain of youth.
At the same time, though, per the website, it contains a few plant extracts, like Babassu Oil, that are meant to both smooth the skin and calm your ass down before beddy bye. In other words, “a joyous and energetic blend of essential oils creates a therapeutic aromatherapy effect.”
How cute is that? Joyous and energetic!
(Actually, “energetic” may not be optimal at 11 pm. But trust me: It’s not like you’re taking speed when you dab this lovely potion hither and yon.)
And most important, here’s how my skin looks after weeks of dedicated DNA use: Soft. Smooth. Even-toned. Glowy. Youthful.
Those are five really, really good things. Right?
There’s no accounting for taste, right?
People like what they like.
You can be blogging your little ol’ heart out about Stuff That Really Matters (I don’t happen to do that btw, but lots of other bloggers do), and World Wide Interweb Surfers will seek out the most superficial, ridiculous drivel.
Happily, this site offers plenty in the superficiality department. And I also weigh in, from time to time, about people – usually women – I greatly admire. (Which is how the late, great Carolyn Bessette stars in one of my greatest bloggy hits of all time.)
Okay, let’s get into the (vegan, fake) meat of this post.
Right now, for reasons I can’t even begin to fathom, here are the…
Top 5 Momover Posts
Awww…I really like this one too. But be forewarned: It’s almost as much about Casey Affleck’s blinding white teeth as it is Christian Bale’s luminous skin. But it does feature a rare recent pic of the Wee Lass, so definitely worth a gander.
In traffic terms, this one belongs in the Momover Hall of Fame. Lordy, I loved that woman…sniff sniff. And obvi a lot of you do, too.
Whoa, there are a lot of ladies (and gents) who want to look younger and leap tall buildings in a single bound! FYI, I had a “moment” with this stuff but I’m not really taking it right now. Which isn’t an indictment, btw. It was just making me feel a little…off. Speedy? Yeah, that’s it. Speedy.
Since this is a post about something pretty horrible that I did, I’m a bit alarmed that it’s so popular. Why? Because that means lots of other people are doing exactly the same thing. Or at least they want to. Grrrr times a billion.
Fresh intel about blasting bloat: It never gets old, right? Never, ever.
Fact 1: I’ve had personal DIY blowout lessons from giants (giants!) in the beauty business. Including a few from none other than Bumble and bumble founder – and all-around hair god – Michael Gordon.
Fact 2: Despite these extremely high-level custom tutorials, and an unhinged amount of at-home practice, I couldn’t give myself a decent blowout if you put a gun to my head. My lack of expertise is like so, so sad.
But have I completely given up on ever mastering this important life skill? No, not yet.
After all, I’m currently knee-deep in learning two other extremely important life skills: Driving and cooking.
When you live in New York for decades, and you’re completely, utterly besotted with your career, it’s all too easy to kick driving and cooking to the curb.
That’s what boyfriends and takeout are for, right?
But lordy lordy, if I’d learned how to give myself a decent at-home blowout back in the day, I could have saved myself a bloody fortune.
Water under the bridge, babes. Moving on.
So now I live in psychotically humid FLA, and my naturally frizzy hair has basically looked like shite for three solid months. I’m not being mean to myself when I say that, btw; I have many sterling attributes, but good hair isn’t one of them.
Anyway, even though we’re still in Hurricane Season, I’m detecting a slight shift in the climate down here, to something approximating – gasp – fall.
Not autumn in the New York sense…the apple-picking, crisply cool, break-out your J. Crew cable-knits kind of autumn.
Rather, it’s a little breezier, and a touch less wet. A drop from, say, 97% humidity to…93% humidity.
Emboldened by this microscopic change in the weather, I decided to actually fuss with my hair a bit over the weekend.
To help with this project, I dug into a stash of heat appliances I’d been hoarding in my Beauty Armoire. Although I’m not to be trusted with a blowdryer, I’ve had good luck over the years with other types of tools.
Like my trusty InStyler Rotating Iron. Oh how I love that thing. But it went missing in our move to FLA, and I haven’t set eyes on it moons. Sadness.
Since I can’t put my mitts on my InStyler, I broke out my brandy new Sarah Potempa Ceramic Styling Iron.
You über-clued up Momoverettes know who Sarah is, oui? Besides being the cutest (and cheeriest!) celeb hairstylist on the circuit, she makes really innovative tools that have “change your life” written all over them. She made her name with her clever Beachwaver, which spins in this direction and that direction, crafting lush curls, and has since created many more awesome hair devices and gew-gaws.
When I reached into my Armoire and pulled out my Ceramic Styling Iron (CSI, for short…) I was immediately struck by these Sarah-isms on the box:
I want all of that stuff, I thought when I read those words. Sign me up.
Important: I was already bone dry before I embarked on Project Make My Hair Look Less Shitty. I’d shampooed earlier that morning, slathered on a product cocktail of Redken Blonde Idol BBB Spray and Suave Professionals Natural Infusion Awapuhi Strengthening Light Leave-In Cream, and let it air dry. Maybe I’m deluding myself, but I like to think starting with a dry base before you iron results in at least a little less damage.
What I love about the Sarah Potempa Ceramic Styling Iron
1. It’s very lightweight. And sleek, sexy and silvery. You’ve heard of “curb appeal”? This slim number has countertop appeal.
2. It heats up so fast you’ll kind of freak out. Literally in seconds. Whoa.
3. Speaking of heat, you can adjust the temperature. It goes up to a scorching 45o degrees. While super-hot is typically the best way to get results, it’s a killuh on your hair. I stopped at 420 degrees. That was plenty hot.
4. It turns off by itself. I work at home now, so leaving an appliance on isn’t the end of the world. But when I lived in Gotham, I can’t tell you how many times I’d get almost to the subway on my way to work and then have to turn around because I was convinced I’d left something on that might burn my pad to the proverbial ground. And guess what? On more one occasion, I was right. Snap.
Momover Lady’s Library: For some reason, I’m on a big ol’ “books about heaven and the afterlife” kick
Before I get rolling, please allow me to dispense with two quick housekeeping matters:
1. TGIF my lovely Momoverettes! (I just had to say that…it’s been a long, work-y week chez moi.)
2. “Afterlife” is one word, yes? I hope so, because I’m about to use it as one word about 95 times.
Anyway, I have no idea why, but I’ve somehow stockpiled four (!) books about heaven, written by spiritual types who say they’ve been there and want to tell us all about what it’s like.
Having recently organized Momover Lady’s Library into specific “Zones,” it was easy – albeit freaky – to see all those heaven books wind up in my Crunchy Zone.
I have scads of Zones, btw.
There’s Art History Zone (chock-full of books about Warhol, Picasso, and my favorite painter of all time – Pieter Bruegel, the Elder.) There’s Knitting Zone, and French Zone. There’s Tech-Spaz Zone (featuring “WordPress for Dummies,” “Digital Photography for Dummies,” “Turning On Your Computer for Dummies,” etc.)
Ironically, one of the biggest book buckets is Organizing Zone. Although every single organizing tome I own tells you to get rid of stuff, I just can’t bear to part with a single organizing book. Wack…
Here are the four afterlife books I own:
1. Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander, MD. Oh my lordy. I’m sorry, but this was off-the-hook fantastic. It is fascinating. Alexander is an academic neurosurgeon, and, at least for me, wholly credible. Spoiler alert: The “earthworm” bit scared the bejesus out of me, but I was really comforted by about 95 percent of this book. Read. It.
2. Waking Up In Heaven by Crystal McVea and Alex Tresniowski. Honestly, I haven’t read a word of this yet. And I don’t really remember what compelled me to pick it up on one of my many Target outings. Maybe because it says on the book jacket that McVea is from Oklahoma? I’m a proud Okie, even though I haven’t live there since I was knee high to a grasshopper.
3. To Heaven and Back by Mary C. Neal, MD. I started this, but then got side-tracked by the considerably more zhushy Eben Alexander book. (I’m like that…fickle and despicable.) Neal is an orthopedic surgeon. But maybe, just maybe, not the zhushy-iest writer. I’ll probably get back to this at some point. I think.
4. Life After Death by Mary T. Browne. I’m reading this right now and it’s adorable. How can a book about death be adorable? I don’t know. It just is. Take my word for it. You don’t want to take my word for it? Okay then, Miss Huffy Puffy, I’ll give you an example: Browne, a famous psychic, says there’s a nursery in heaven – which she’s seen – filled with happy babies. “It was enchanting,” she writes. “Children were singing songs and laughing. I am certain that anyone who has had a child pass on in infancy would be overwhelmed to know the care its soul was being given.” Sweet, non?
Full disclosure: I’ve met Mary T. Browne. I’ve even had lunch with Mary T. Browne. And my copy of Life After Death is inscribed, thusly, by Mary T. Browne:
May 15 2008
I predict that we will be friends. My good thoughts go to you.
And since I’ve hopped – firmly – on the TMI train today, I’ll say that it was actually the concept of ‘thoughts’ that lead me to pick up Life After Death again.
I’d been reading another one of Mary’s books – the teriffic 5 Rules of Thought – earlier in the summer. And while I am completely paraphrasing here, she basically says, in 5 Rules, that we’ll basically be held accountable, in heaven, for every thought we’ve ever had.
Yowsa. How does she know this?, I’d wondered.
The answer, as I would come to find out, lay in my rickety old copy of Life After Death. While unpacking a few post-move-to-FLA boxes in the garage, I found it and snatched it right out of the pile.
And now it’s in heavy rotation on my nightstand.
Which Mary T. Browne knows, of course. She’s psychic. And she’s been to heaven.
Wait – there’s no way in hell I’ll get to experience some kind of actual autumn in FLA, right? Some slight change in the mood and mindset that might push me out of my trusty vegan Birkenstock Gizehs and into real shoes?
(Sidebar: Before we start talking war paint, I just want to make a quick note of this: Shockingly, given its place in the Crunchy Pantheon, not all Birkenstocks are vegan. If you want to avoid leather, as I do, you need to track down the ones made with Birko-Flor. I have no idea what Birko-Flor is, except that it’s cruelty-free and comes in oodles of purty colors. Yay!)
Okay, back to beauty…
Even if the answer to that earlier question is – No, Momover Lady, it is Eternal Summer down here. Suck it up. - I’m feeling vaguely fall-y anyway.
And I’m officially O.V.E.R. running around with an almost-naked face.
Which doesn’t mean I’ll be breaking out my beloved Marc Jacobs Beauty Marvelous Mousse Transformative Foundation anytime soon; it’s still a little too muggy and clammy around these parts for that.
Rather, I’m on the hunt, and fishing around in my Armoire, for super-lightweight tinted moisturizers, foundations and CC Creams. Ones that I can slather all over and not feel like sticking my head under the garden hose five minutes later.
Here are four I’m liking – and why:
1. Kevyn Aucoin The Sensual Skin Tinted Balm This one is oil-free, so if you have super-dry skin, I suggest layering it over a bit of moisturizer. I can hear you now: I thought this WAS a moisturizer. Well guess what? It really isn’t. It’s makeup. But it is lightweight, and it does give the skin a chic, “I’m on my way to work, so get outta my way way” look. And sometimes, that’s exactly what you want. (Minus the heft of a heavier foundation, bien sur.)
2. Peter Thomas Roth CC Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Laced with “30x Vitamin C of an Orange,” this is an antioxidant powerhouse. Is Peter Thomas Roth known for makeup? No, he’s a skin genius. And that’s why this makeup is really good for your skin. Bonus: The texture is glide-on fantastic.
3. Clinique Moisture Surge CC Cream Compact SPF 25 Sensing a CC cream theme? Good. Because I highly recommend them, especially if you’ve blown out more than a few candles on your recent birthday cakes, as I have. While BB creams – which, at least in the U.S., are multi-purpose “beauty balms” that allegedly do everything from camouflaging enlarged pores to filing your tax returns – CC creams are more targeted. They primarily “color-correct,” i.e. impart radiance and, over time, reduce age- and sun-related hyperpigmentation. So now that you know the difference between BBs and CCs, know this: Clinique makes a kick-ass CC cream. But then again, Clinique makes a kick-ass everything.
4. By Terry Light-Expert Perfecting Foundation Brush The glamorous French broad of the bunch, this is one of those combo brush / foundation numbers that you click until the product starts to push its way to the top. If you’ve never applied your complexion products with a brush – and trust me, lots of mamas haven’t – I urge you to try it. Especially with this luxe-but-light formula. You’ll be taking your look to the next level. And what mommy-person wouldn’t want that?
5 e-mail processing hacks. (No one needs em more than me. OK, maybe a few people need em more. But I do need em.)
I’m desperately trying to forget something my crunchy-crush (Leo Babauta) recently wrote on his Zen Habits blog:
He tries to keep his email inbox under 50.
Can you imagine? He’s such a beloved dude – such a beacon of light for his faithful flock – that I’m sure his inbox is bombarded / pelted / inundated with pleas for his attention every single day of his bright and shiny, self-disciplined life.
I want to get to that 50-email limit, too. But right now, I’ll settle for getting mine down to 500 from – gasp – today’s count of…9,108.
So let’s figure out how to do that, shall we?
On y va. Allez-y. Let’s go!*
* (NOTE: Most of this post will be Gmail-centric; as much as Hubby urges me to use the classic Mail program on my Mac, it just doesn’t “speak” to me the way Gmail does.)
5 Solid Strategies for Zapping Email
1. If “unsubscribe” isn’t working, let big, bad Gmail help you out. I get frustrated (read: ballistic) when I’ve taken the time to unsubscribe from email lists and new ones keep springing up like those loathsome critters in Whac-A-Mole. So I’m thrilled to have found the “Unsubscribe and report spam” feature in Gmail. When you click on an email from a list you want to remove from your life, pan your eyeballs up to that row of action icons on top. Look for the one shaped like a stop sign with an exclamation point in the center. Clicking that will in turn allow you to hit “Unsubscribe and report spam.” Though I feel bad for playing the spam card with companies I’ve ordered products or newsletters from in the past, I gotta move on and seize control of my inbox destiny.
2. Take full advantage of Gmail’s new-ish organizing buckets: “Primary,” “Social” and “Promotions.” Obvi, when it comes to ruthlessly deleting emails and reducing the size of your inbox, you wouldn’t start with Primary, as that’s what mostly “real”: It’s either responses to emails you yourself have sent, or it’s incoming from people you actually know, or might want to know. For me, Promotions is the primary get-rid-of-it hunting ground, because I don’t want or need 99.9 percent of what’s living in that bucket. In a perfect world, I’d have the time to marvel at the sheer wittiness of J. Crew’s daily missives, but I don’t live in a perfect world. And since I’m not very (electronically) Social, I’m okay with zapping most of that stuff, too.
3. Accept that you can’t possibly read all the completely awesome newsletters you’ve subscribed to. Plug the newsletter name into your email search tool, do a quick scan and save 5 for later reading. Okay, 10. Now highlight the rest and send them off into the ozone. Try to do this regularly. For the most part, you can probably visit the newsletter’s website of origin and read back issues until the proverbial cows come home.
4. Archive….sparingly. I’ve read many “helpful” blog posts that suggest that you not worry about teeming, 10k-plus email inboxes. Just archive them, lock, stock and barrel, these experts tell us. Gmail has plenty of storage space. (Actually, I think it’s even Gmail itself that tells us that…) But IMHO, that’s just sweeping the problem under the rug. Like when I beg the Wee Lass to clean up her room and I find her shoving stuff, ad hoc, into what she calls “random” boxes. “You’re the one who told me it’s always good to have a ‘random’ box,” she’ll say, when I call her on it. Oops! Still, she’s an 8-year-old collector/hoarder. You, on the other hand, are an organized, thoughtful grownup with self-discipline.
5. Set aside a specific chunk of time to process email. You’re checking email 50 times a day, but are you processing email 50 times a day? Probably not. I have a personal philosophy, one that I most definitely don’t adhere to all the time: Do what you’re doing. So when you’re in “process” mode, really, truly process. And that means taking one further action besides just quickly scanning. Really read it, then either respond to it, archive it or delete it. Keep taking that next step until it becomes automatic.
And on that note: My next step is out the door to pick up my sweet little collector / hoarder from school. Bon weekend, chere Momoverettes.
While I seriously, actively fret about the amount of beauty products I own (and purses, and books, and ancient fashion mags…), I never really thought of myself as an email hoarder.
Until this past weekend, when I tried to make good on my pledge to reduce my electronic inbox to 500 emails and barely made a dent.
I’m no math whiz (understatement of the century), but if I’m starting with close to 10k, and want to get to > 500, that means 9000+ need to be kicked to the virtual curb.
I promised – right here on this itty bitty blog – to do it by September 1. But then I blew it off, and went on my merry way. Until Friday afternoon, when I had a mini panic attack and started spiking, spiking, spiking.
But this is where it got weird: No matter how many I thought I’d zapped – hundreds and hundreds! – the total count didn’t really budge.
So then I got the brills idea to empty the trash.
Maybe, I thought, if I did that, the count would plummet. After all, I’d spent the better part of Friday afternoon and Saturday morning obliterating everything even remotely junk-y or spam-y in my path.
And still here we are, a few days later, and my inbox is reading: 9095.
Let’s run the numbers. When I first posted about this dilemma in August, I had 9760 emails. Since then, I’m sure another 200 snuck in through the back door. (I’m on a lot of mailing lists…)
So let’s amend that count to 9960. And now I’m at 9095. That means that even with alllllllll that weekend spiking, I still only zapped 905 emails.
Maybe because I sensed I was failing miserably at the clutter-busting goal I’d set for myself, I did some reading about managing your email inbox.
In my next post, I’ll share the email hacks I gleaned in my sleuthing. Right now, I need to tackle my Tuesday To Do list.
But before I scoot off, let’s recap why reducing my inbox is so important to me. And why it might benefit you, and that mama over there, and all mamas everywhere:
According to the core tenets of feng shui, jam-packed inboxes – the virtual or actual, touchable kind – restrict the flow of communication.
I think we’d all agree that an open flow of communication is more ideal. Feel me?