Monday Monthly Mission #23

November 7th, 2011 - filed under: Furthermore » Monday Monthly Mission

On the first Monday of every month, we take on a ‘mission’ – a shift or habit or inspiration – to work on together. There’s strength (and support) in numbers! On the last Thursday of the month, we reconvene to see how far we’ve come.


Okay, so YES, we’re already one week in to November . . . BUT, it only takes 21 days to form a new habit. Which means . . . we can still do this. You with me?!

This month’s mission is actually very straightforward. It’s something that I should already be doing, and most likely you feel the same way. It causes me a ridiculous amount of stress, on a regular basis, all the time. And yet, it really should be NO BIG DEAL.

I’m talking about: the inbox.

Oh yeah. That beast. The “oh-I’ll-just-get-to-that-later” that somehow turns into dozens of unanswered emails looming like a dark cloud over your shoulder. Forever unsettled. Never caught up. *shiver* Oooooh, I hate that.

So I’m finally going to do something about it. From now on, I answer email same-day. AT LEAST a quick response to touch base, with a promise to follow-up later. My goal: I don’t go to bed until the inbox is clean.

So far, so good. I’m also working on a ridiculous backlog of emails right now, but this mission is just in regards to *new* mail. And yeah – so far, so good. And it feels goooood.

So what about you, dear friends? Do you accept this mission? If you already keep a clean inbox, is there some other area that you could be better about staying on top of? Like watering the plants/sweeping the floors/putting laundry away/etc? If there’s anything that seems like it should be small, but due to negligence, becomes a huge point of stress, then THAT’S what this mission is about.

You in?


As an aside, for the next 6 weeks I will be taking an online course with The Institute For Humane Education, called Raising A Humane Child. Today is the very first day of class (!!!), and I can’t tell you how thrilled I am. I feel like this will be an amazing resource for me, as both a parent and a person. I wasn’t planning on talking about the class until it was completed, but I’m just too excited! All you parents should totally check out the organization, because they are doing spectacular things. As for me, I’ll let you know how it goes . . .


Next month we will be the taking a break from the Bonzai Book Club, in order so that we all may make it through the holidays alive. BBC will resume in January!

  • Jenny @ Simply Be…me

    I accept your monthly mission but will apply it to housework. My mom is visiting and she is always tidying up but then doesn’t have to go on a cleaning rampage at the end of the week like I do. She keeps reminding me that if I just did stuff as it was needed it’s not a big deal, I remind her that it’s easier said than done :)

    I can’t wait to hear about the course – looks interesting!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Hi Jenny, this reminds me – last month I picked the top 6 chores that I always feel like I’m behind on – for me this was 1. tidying/dusting the bedroom, 2. watering the plants, 3. mopping the kitchen floor, 4. folding/putting away laundry, 5. sweeping/tidying the living room, and 6. washing the front window (dog noses!)

    Then I assigned each one a day, and have been totally successful with keeping to the schedule ever since. I couldn’t believe how easy it was, once I had “rules” to follow! I wrote up my schedule on little notecards, too, and put one on the pinboard next to my bed, and put the other on the fridge, so I could always reference them. So for example, on Monday mornings I tidy/dust the bedroom, then on Tuesday night I water all the plants, then on Wednesday night I mop the kitchen, then on Thursday morning I catch up on laundry, etc etc.

    It has worked SO WELL! Just thought you may want to try something similar. =)


  • Jenny @ Simply Be…me

    I love it! Thanks!

  • Kaitlyn@TheTieDyeFiles

    I’m in! Except laundry is my demon. I WILL put it away!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Yay, I love the idea of everybody doing their own version!

  • erosan

    I’ve got my inbox under control. I eat, drink, breathe and dream inbox zero, by merlin mann, which is sort of an implementation of david allen’s GTD. It works wonders.

    So instead, i’ll take this MMM to run to work everyday (well 4 days a week in the beginning).

  • Anonymous

    I will apply the challenge to ALWAYS cleaning up the kitchen after dinner, I am sometimes so lazy that I leave it all in the sink until the next morning… yeah it’s gross. This month I will immediately clean up after dinner!

  • Eve

    I need to return a bunch of phone calls and catch up with friends and family. My monthly mission!

  • Lou

    Wow, I just looked into the course you are doing… looks fantastic, I’d love to hear how you get on with it. I’m thinking about giving it a crack in Feb next year (I have a 12 month old boy).

    I will apply the challenge to my box of half finished sewing projects :)

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Ooh, thanks for the tip! And I LOVE the running to work idea. I read that in your last post and thought “Why have I never heard of this before??!” Truly brilliant. =)

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I used to be so bad about this! Now Damian does it every night while I put Waits to bed. It makes suuuuch a difference!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Welcome aboard!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Good luck with the sewing! And I’ll definitely be writing all about how the course goes. =)

  • Alina S

    I’m a clean inbox freak already (today I taught the girls at work how to use labels and filters… I am a nerd) but I will apply this to laundry… first step… find a dresser on Craigslist!!!

  • Fran@BCDC

    Good luck with your classes. They sound interesting!

  • Clair Johnson

    I’m definitely doing this! Not only do I fail to reply to emails, even if I do, I leave them in my inbox until it’s almost full and driving me crazy.

    Gah…I’m really glad you picked this one. =)

  • Moira

    Sayward, you have impeccable timing!

    This month I’m challenging myself to spend 1 diligent hour a day M-F on working on my proposal. Given work, classes, and life, it is so easy to lose motivation and energy since I have no short term deadlines. But I know if I commit an hour a day during the work week, I’ll put in more than 5 hours a week.

    I also plan on extending this monthly challenge to Dec 5th to make up for the first five days of this month in which I put no good study time in … Hopefully I’ll be on a roll by then :)

  • Dark Mother

    I’ve just started a “One Thing a Month” project on my blog. It is a way to tackle my unhealthy lifestyle in a way I have never tried before. For the next year I will be adding/subtracting a habit each month. I am listing the “biggies” on my blog, but am also doing baby step in baby things too.

    I love this idea, thanks for sharing.

  • Lauren

    Ok, I’m in! I always have a pile of clean laundry that needs folded and put away. I will no longer dig through the clean pile to find clothes for my kids or a towel, I will find them folded and put away! Maybe I’ll get to sit in my favorite chair more often since it won’t be covered with laundry…
    Love the idea of setting up a cleaning schedule, been thinking about doing that, maybe this will be the push I need to get things in order!

  • jennyfurlynn

    also very excited to hear about the humane child course – what a cool idea! :)

  • Kathryn B

    Oh how I love this mission! I am horrible when it comes to my work inbox. I read e-mails as I get them, take care of the urgent ones, and then flag the rest for later. However, my flag e-mail always gets pushed to the side until they to become pressing also. Since I use my outlook for everything from e-mail, to calendar, to to-do I need to get a handle on my work. So my goal is: take care of all the urgent issues first and continue to flag the non-urgent. However, I must at least address all flagged issues before the end of the day. This will allow me to start each day fresh, with a cleaned out inbox!

  • JenMR

    UGH I am sooo bad at this! My gmail inbox has an embarrassing number of messages in it. My work email is also over 3,000 and I’ve been in the job less than a year! Another component of this problem is the fact that I frequently look at email on my smartphone….i get tons of mass marketing messages that I should click through to the “unsubscribe” link, but this process always feels cumbersome on my phone. So yes, I will take this challenge….I will unsubscribe from unwanted emails as they come in, and I will read/respond/delete everything else before bed!!

  • ~L~

    YAY! Totally easy for me since I’m already obsessed with keeping mine cleaned out! ^.^

  • sarah

    I guess I’m the opposite – I’m anal about checking email and responding immediately. This actually becomes less productive because it’s a constant interruption, so I feel like the best method is to set a couple times a day (11 am / 4 pm) to check and respond to email. Just an FYI… don’t let this mission stress you out more!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Yay, love how many people are on board for this, and how you all are adapting it to suit your needs. =D

  • Minna Toots

    I like this MMM! Simple and adaptable. Although not at all easy to pick just one — I’ve got so many small things to choose from! Cat litter, vacuuming, mopping… And I’m so bad at making decisions. My inbox is generally under control as I pretty much live on the Internet and probably don’t get half as much e-mails as you do :D

    I took 10 minutes to figure out what to choose for this mission and I’m all out of ideas. Anyway, I wish luck to all others and see if I can come up with something later. Haha. I’m terrible.

  • Kelsey

    I have tried to do the same thing with the 1 area of cleaning a day for the longest time. I always start off well, but then work or something else always seems like a good excuse to skip a day. . . I’m going to give this another shot, but make it a bit more realistic for busy days.

    I also had a huge problem with the inbox, and I still have a mess. As work has slowed a bit, I’ve taken that time at my desk to whittle away at it.

  • Anonymous

    Oh my gosh, YES! I have been wanting (and at the same dreading) to clean my inbox. Like, a serious clean – I have over 800 unread messages! EEP! I cannot wait to tackle this demon…any ideas on how to get started and/or make this terrifying process any easier?

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Erosan posted above, and I have heard GREAT things about that system. I’d say start there!

  • Diane

    Boy do I need this! here is my biggest flaw… Every time I go somewhere, I have to hunt down my keys and my sunglasses!! You would think after countless moments of frustration and agitation, I would have learned to put them in the same spot each time I am finished with them, however, that’s not the case! So from now on, I will think of your challenge and (hopefully it will become a habit) will put them in the drawer as I finish with them. Wish me luck!!

  • Heidi Pifiefer

    I just have to say that you answer e-mails faster than anyone I have written. You answer from 3 days to a week- unprecedented. I rarely hear from businesses and bloggers within the month, if ever. Man, even within the month is pretty fabulous!

    The very fact that you answer even a handful of our comments and questions is super!

    I can’t speak for everyone but I certainly don’t expect an instant response. We will still be around whenever you get to your in box.

    “It’s Not Livin’ That You’re Doin’ If It Feels Like Dyin’”
    Ray Lamontagne

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Aw, thank you! It helps to know that people are understanding. Still, I’d feel better if I didn’t have to make anyone wait! =D

  • erosan

    I know, it feels like being pampered, right? but it is also part of why the community on this blog is so great… you don’t feel like you are being ignored (cuz you are not)…

  • Heidi Pifiefer

    Very true & very appreciated. xo

  • Minna Toots

    Alright, my mini-mission will be planning my day so that I always get at least 8+ hours sleep. So far so good :)

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Oof, I *definitely* need to make that my mission one of these days.

  • erosan

    Well, you can try applying the zero inbox method to your 800 emails, working in dashes…

    Yeah, the article is also from Merlin Mann (god, I feel like I work for him recommending him so much, but what can I say? the man has good ideas and an entertaining blog)

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the advice! I watched his Inbox Zero video today and got totally inspired. I moved all messages to the DMZ folder and at least now I feel like I can tackle it in dashes!

  • erosan

    Awesome! Glad you found it useful. You can do it! When I started using inbox zero I started from a similar # of unread emails, so it is doable.

  • erosan

    Friendly reminder, the sleep cycle of the average person is around 1.5 hours, so sleeping 7:30 will give you a better quality rest than sleeping 8 (and you will wake up feeling more refreshed and less cranky if you don’t have to wake up to an alarm halfway through your sleep cycle). Try to aim for 7 hours and a half instead as your minimum (5 sleep cycles are more than plenty rest)

  • Rachel

    I am in. I usually read the e-mails right away, but sometimes, (*little cough*) most of the time actually I end up leaving the message there and saying “I will come back to that.” I will join in the resolve to handle it as soon as I read it and then get rid of it.
    YAY for a clean in-box!

  • April

    I’m on board with this monthly mission, but I must first admit that I am often an avoider, especially when it comes to the inbox. I know that email will still be there when I get to it eventually, and often times I am a way-late responder. Whoops.