There’s some new anti-spam legislation in Canada that is designed to help keep unwanted emails out of our inboxes. According to a Radicati study, in 2013 there were 100 billion emails sent per day. Per day. That’s a lot of emails with a good portion of them being ones you never asked for and typically don’t want. Most people have inboxes that are simply overloaded. Filtering out the spam that invades our digital space seems like a good thing. Fewer emails mean fewer distractions and less time wasted.
Our lives are sometimes like our inboxes – an overwhelming bombardment of opportunities, information, obligations, commitments and tasks. So if reducing the spam in your inbox is a good thing, then maybe we can look at reducing the junk in the rest of our lives too. Without conscious intention, we allow junk to infiltrate our physical, emotional and intellectual space.
Here are some tips for anti-spamming your life:
Too much junk is not good.
There is a limit to our time, energy and resources. So we need to be mindful of how we fill our days. There’s nothing wrong with a little junk. Just like the occasional email about an inheritance from your long lost Nigerian relative might be mildly entertaining, a little junk in our lives can be fun or distracting or soothing. It’s the volume of junk that begins to cause problems. When we eat poorly, read trashy magazines, watch mind numbing programs, buy excessively, or hang out with negative people, it takes a cumulative toll on our body, hearts and minds. The 80-20 rule is a good one. Spend 80% of your time on things that uplift, inspire, enrich and empower you. Limit the junk in your life to 20% or less.
One person’s junk is still junk.
There’s a saying that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. That might be true once in a while. More often junk is still junk. We usually know junk when we see it. It doesn’t add substantive value to our lives. It’s most definitely a want and not a need. It’s often a way to procrastinate. Whether it’s unhealthy food or reality television or gossip or another pair of shoes, junk uses up two of our valuable resources – time and money – and doesn’t give us much in return. Catch yourself defending the merits of the junk in your life. I like it. It’s harmless. I want it. If you have to rationalize it, then maybe it’s worth filtering it out.
It’s good to have a filter.
If we don’t create some boundaries around junk, then we become overwhelmed with it. That’s why we have spam filters in our email programs. If we didn’t, our legitimate email would be overrun with the sheer volume of junk mail. In the rest of our lives, we need a way to filter out some of the stuff that wants to enter our space. It’s easier to keep stuff out than to take on the task of clearing things out later. Consider what junk you don’t want to let in. Create some rules for yourself that help you filter that junk. I don’t gossip. I eat something green every day. I don’t bring something new into the house unless something goes out. Your filter should reflect what is most important to you.
Filters don’t always work.
Just like the spam filter in your email, sometimes junk slips through. I’m always amazed that emails that on subjects like finding a Russian bride, buying blue pills in bulk or getting a college degree in a weekend are not always caught in the spam filter. And yet sometimes perfectly legitimate emails are. Even when we are pretty good about filtering out the junk in our lives, sometimes it still slips through. That’s when a speedy delete is needed. If we start to give the junk more attention that it deserves, we become sidetracked from the really important things that need our attention. Pausing at the end of the day to reflect is a good way to keep the filter working. Ask yourself “How much junk did I let into my day?” “What needs to get filtered out tomorrow?”
There will always be a never-ending stream of junk vying for your attention. If you are looking for more calm, less stress and more satisfaction in your life, time to create your personal anti-spam legislation.
How do you manage the junk in your life?
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