Sunday, June 10, 2012

Emails Going Unanswered

Do you ever feel inadequate?  I do.

Do you keep quiet when you discover that you've goofed up, hoping that nobody noticed?  Sometimes.

Do you fall short of your own expectations?  I do, sometimes, but perhaps I just need to readjust my expectations.

About every month or so, I will search my inbox for the emails related to comments I've left on other people's blogs or comments which others have left on my blog.  I will label each one with the name of the blog and "archive" it.  I will conduct a search for messages related to different listservs I am a part of, label them, then archive them as well.

Then I will search in my email to bring up old messages which can easily be deleted.....NY Times, Washington Post, junk messages from department stores, those types of things.  Also, I try to weed out the relevant PR messages from the junk.  Requests for links - junk.  Requests to guest post - mostly spam junk.  Requests to post "news" related to MS drug study results - not junk, but never has one of those offers of an interview with a researcher or neurologist panned out.  So why should I bother.  Send me a pdf of the study and then we can talk.

I also try to make sure that I've acted upon email messages in which bloggers have asked me to feature a post in a Carnival or to add their blog to the community listings.  I try to "star" these messages when I first see them so that I can act upon them later.  So often, I'm in a rush, and my words aren't flowing smoothly in my head, that I don't answer these messages directly until a later time.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for me to have more than 100 unopened and unread emails at any given time.  It is not uncommon to have more than 3000 email messages still officially in my "inbox."  For that matter, too often I have 20-30 tabs open on my browser as well.

So many balls up in the air.  No wonder some get dropped.

During the past three days or so, I've spent countless hours cleaning up my email inbox.  First I searched for messages which could easily be deleted.  Then I searched for things which could be labeled and archived for future reference.

I moved on to working through my "starred" messages.  Oh boy, here is where things got messy.  I had hundreds of starred messages, but only the 50 most recent ones would show up on my page.  The challenge was on - unstarring, reading, deleting, archiving, searching.  Rinse and repeat.

What I found were messages I received up to two years ago which I had never answered.  Messages I had not acted upon (ie. adding a blog to the community listing).  Messages I had marked as important and which I had every intention of responding to.  Some of those bloggers asked for help and now I can see that they abandoned their blogs not long after reaching out.

I feel horrible.  I am ashamed.  I let people down.

Sometimes I get emails from friends who ask how I do everything I do.  How do I manage to be "everywhere" on the internet.  "How do you balance it all?"

The answer - I don't know how.  It seems to be part illusion and it takes an enormous amount of time and energy.  I end up spinning in circles putting out fires (ie. acting upon obligations and requests).

I want to have the energy and frame of mind to give someone my full attention when I do sit down to answer an email.  This is how messages go unanswered for various lengths of time.  Too often, I am apologizing for my "delayed response" when I do get back to people.  Then there are the times where I do include a post in a Carnival or list a blog, but don't send an email back.  What must those individuals think of me?

How do I manage it all?  I have no freakin' idea.

I love it when others send me messages thanking me for what I do for the community.  It makes me feel enormously good (and significant).  I love getting comments on my blog, but I often don't respond for many of the reasons mentioned above.  It doesn't mean that I'm ignoring you, maybe it does, but I don't mean it that way.

Life online moves so very quickly.  So much I want to be able to do, and so little time and energy to do it.

Although I know that those individuals who reached out to me last month, last year, or in the last five years of this blog, and who didn't get a response will not likely see this post, I still feel that an apology is in order.

I'm sorry.  I am just one person.  No support staff pointing me in the direction of good news stories (doing all the weeding out for me).  No other person fielding my email messages.  No one here but me.

I know that I am adequate.  I know that I make a difference in other people's lives.  I know that there are many who have read my words, and although they haven't reached out to me personally, they have been touched in a positive way.

So let's flip this around.  How do YOU manage to do everything you do?  Please share, I could use some pointers.

(P.S. I now have 525 messages remaining in my inbox with only 18 unread.  I think that next I'll sit down and answer Harry (newly dx) who emailed me last week asking for help.)


  1. Lisa, I don't handle a small fraction of all you do! Plus, you have a full-time job! I am organized, and that helps me a lot. I also keep lists [once hand written, now computer generated] of all I need to do [sometimes every day.] Also, there's a calendar on Outlook that allows you to list your agenda by times.A little bell rings to remind you. Would that help you?
    No matter, I continue to read your posts and your info on Health Central. Thanks for all you do.

  2. Thanks, Muff. Perhaps I need to set time limits for what I am doing. Schedule a bell to ring when it's time to move onto something else. When I've made lists, it actually seems more overwhelming all the things which need to be done...eventually. I should give it a real try though. That, and, respond to things and write down pertinent information immediately. If I didn't write it down, sometimes I forget it was even discussed. As for lessons, I've often said - if it isn't in the schedule, then we must not have talked about it - LOL.

  3. Wow, Lisa! That's an amazing work load, and I admire you for tackling it. I hope I sent you a 'congratulations' e-mail on your upcoming wedding. If not, pretend I did and you haven't seen it yet!

  4. Thanks, Joan! We're excited. I should probably get back to making plans for the wedding. :)