The Space

cleaning the inbox

Apr 07, 2024

There are so many different things I wanted to write about today. Yesterday I attended an 'office hours' session with the Center for Courage and Renewal where I am undertaking a 'circle of trust' facilitation program. I have to deliver a practice session in a few weeks time and I had done very little to prepare for it, so to be honest I was in a panic. Sharing my 'panic' was very cathartic - I very quickly realized that I was not the only one! And by the end of the one hour session I had a plan and felt more confident.


The lesson in this is community - being with supportive people who will listen to you, encourage you, and inspire you.

- Where are the places where you have community?

- What does community mean to you?

I firmly believe that being in community helps to clean the mental inbox! It compliments the time by yourself.

That leads me to my last few weeks of fasting where I have been in various communities locally and globally.

As Ramadan - the month where Muslims are 'nil by mouth' (yes that means no water!) - comes to a close many of my non-Muslim friends asked me if I am excited, what I will do to celebrate, and then expressing that they are in awe of the fact that I have (to date) fasted 28 days for about 15-16 hours a day. At the start it really is a challenge of mind over matter, as you get used to it it does get easier. Adjusting my working day also helps a great deal - I tend to work during the night. In the last few days I have been going to sleep the time I would usually wake up. And this is what I mean by it being a psychological challenge more than a physiological one! 

Have you ever had that task that you are avoiding? Then you finally push yourself to do it, and discover that it actually took you about 20 minutes. And that time in no way reflects all the stress and anxiety and irritation you caused yourself about the task? I have had a lot of those! There was one task which came a little left field... I had been expecting this email for some time but was then surprised when it came and added a huge item to my to-do list at a time when I was trying to keep my task list minimal.

I received a notification from the University of Glasgow, the university where I did my PhD. It said that my email account was going to be closed in 30 days, the problem is that I received the message with 7 days to go! I had to go through 10 years of emails to decide what I wanted to keep. It is not as bad as it sounds but there was some key correspondence I didn't want to lose. 

A dull, boring, monotonous task? Yes. 

And you know what I did? I left it until the last minute to go and clean the inbox...

But in the end the whole thing took me less than 1 hour. Why? 

Because I was focused, I knew what I was looking for... and most importantly, I believe that my subconscious had done some of the filtering already. My brain had been working behind the scenes all along while I was doing other things. So a task that I was dreading then became easier to do. 

- What is the task that you are dreading? 

- What will it take to get it done?

The image above represents how there is more clarity once the inbox is clear... when my inbox is full it sometimes feels like I don't have my glasses on!

By letting go of our expectations of time and knowing that it is both fast and slow we enable ourselves to connect with the job at hand. 

Let's be clear, one thing I will never know is the answer to the question 'how long will it take to get it done.' I can give a very educated guess which will have a range of time... but it remains a guess. 

And, the other question in all of this is related to more than getting the job done, are you enjoying it? 

Did I enjoy scanning through years of email? 

Actually I did. Reminiscing on lovely memories related to things I had written, pieces I read, reflections I asked for feedback on, challenges I had overcome, and the joy of receiving 'congratulations' emails was very powerful. 

Several hours after 'cleaning my inbox' I feel a lot of joy. 

One of the unexpected things about this year's Ramadan was how much I cleared my personal inbox. 

- What inbox would you like to clear? 

Is it a literal email inbox, a suitcase of memories, a jar of recollections, so called 'junk' in the attack, 'junk' in your mind? 

I'd love to hear what you might wish to sort out... 

All my best,



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