I started off yesterday with 35 emails and now I am down to 15 in my inbox. My personal inbox is a sort of to-do list of the various digital errands I must do. Clearing out the 20 least important items may not seem like such a big deal, but given a spinal problem that prevents me from reliably being able to work or almost anything, really, it’s important for me to clean things done or nearly done.
Even writing this essay will serve as a big of a challenge.
My tailbone started hurting about one hour ago, despite my best efforts to avoid it. In some ways, this is a good thing, since I’ll be going to get my MRI tomorrow to see what’s going wrong in… not my tailbone, but at least it’s a start toward figuring out and even fixing the problem that’s basically plagued me since the COVID-19 pandemic kicked into high gear in April 2020 – because, were it not for the pandemic sending us all home, my sub-standard ergonomics for my work-from-home area to send my spine into a sort of terrible situation for me.
Will I ever be able to reliably depend on my spine again?
This newest spine doctor seems confident that he can figure out what’s going wrong and fix this issue for me, or at least is confident enough to send me back to work before this essay’s publication. Considering that at my healthiest, I can’t do much more than sit and sleep, there is going to be months of healing time even after I return to work. The strategies I’ve learned over these past few months for solving the many logistical problems I’ve been tasked with completing will help me through the rest of my life.
I address tasks in one of two ways: The Big Bad or sweeping up the little ones.
This mirrors my videogame battle styles in that, if I know how the battle will go, I can decide between attacking the boss or clearing out the surrounding enemies first. There are pros and cons to either strategy. If there are many little enemies that can cause distracting problems for the videogame party, then I might prioritize clearing them out. If the boss is the most distracting problem, and the little enemies don’t matter, then I might prioritize defeating that boss.
So too are the myriad errands I have to do through my email inbox, mailbox, or voicemail.
I have a probably three-week stack of letters to retrieve from my physical mailbox, but I don’t have the energy to do that now. Maybe I’ll pick them up before I go up for my MRI to make sure that I have them in my apartment. Most of them are bills I either need to call, reach out to my insurance company to ask them about, or pay. That’s a bigger deal than me clearing out my email of the little things I did today, however, they’re not especially annoying. What is… is looking at my inbox and being overwhelmed by the suffocating number of emails that bombard me daily. I have email notifications turned on with my smartphone, and will sometimes curate my inbox as I receive new emails, but otherwise, I’ll usually clear out the inbox at least once a day to remove or complete some tasks.
When I don’t, then things pile up so the unimportant mixes in with the important.
Of these 15 emails, maybe 5 of them have any degree of importance, the rest just being things I should do when I get the chance. As a way to help me keep track of the work I did today, I placed an “important” tag next to 5 of the emails including the newest, so I can – when I’m next able to tend to my inbox – decide if I want to approach “the big bag” or “the little ones.” Ideally, I’d have nothing in my inbox, which is to say, no digital errands to tend to, but because that’s like chasing after the myth of perfection or wanting to listen to every album ever made or play every videogame ever made, I have to accept compromises.
How will I feel later today?
Will I have the energy to tend to the higher-priority items in my inbox or other areas of my life? If not, then I can at least do what I did earlier today, which is do a little bit of surface-level scrubbing. When I try to be too ambitious, I fail. If I, instead work within my means with the energy I have, then like this tailbone pain that randomly flairs up with such a violent distraction that it’s difficult for me to focus on much else until it calms down, I can do things to prepare myself for later to do as much as I can.
My spine is feeling raw and sore but I’m nearly done.
This is the sort of balance I will need to figure out in order to balance my vocational activities, avocational activities, and recreational activities that – in balance – help move me along toward a self-actualized lifestyle, but when out-of-balance can lead to worrying about whether I’ve done this or that.
OK, I’ll need to step away before finishing this essay…
It’s that sort of balance that I’ll need to figure out especially as I start to do livestreaming more often. I can typically catch the pain before it gets too severe. As an example, I stopped being able to think clearly throughout the course of this essay, and if I were to write another essay – or sit for more than 30 minutes – I would, too, stop thinking as clearly as I can now, which is still affected by the various malaises that distract me. Once I get my health back, then it will be nice to return to many things in life, including clearing out low-priority digital errands quickly. Until then, I roll with the punches.
I do what I can when I can.
|Sources: My personal experiences.|
|Inspirations: I’d been thinking through essay topics for a few hours. The title came to mind as I walked to the toilet on one of those “my tailbone hurts” moments and then the whole idea of cleaning my inbox – no euphemism – then writing about it came to mind.|
|Related: Sober Living essays and Tripping On [The American Healthcare System] chapters.|
|Written On: 2020 November 24 [7:15am to “finishing this essay…” at 7:44am, 8:18am to 8:21am]|
|Last Edited: 2020 November 24 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]|