Yes. This is the follow-up to Part 1 which was all about the things that were hard, challenging, stressful and annoying about being on email sabbatical.

This time it’s about the good parts. And yeah, there are good parts. I mean, there must have been, since it’s been fifteen months I’m never going back.

So in case I depressed the hell out of you last time, here’s where things start to look up.

The good, the reassuring, the stuff that — amazingly, eventually — worked.

Email sabbatical solves inbox zero.

It takes you off the rollercoaster of crazy because for you, there is no inbox. Wrap your head around that.

Anyway, it deguiltified my life by about 90%.

It makes you get your systems down. You nail them.

When you are paying someone vast sums of money to respond to everything that comes in, you find yourself doing everything in your power to make sure stuff doesn’t come in.

You make sure that your FAQ pages answer every possible question. You find the holes. You fill the holes. Everything has to work.

Smartest thing I ever did was to hire Cairene to help me with this. She’s a genius at transforming scary, boring (or kind of non-existent) systems into ones that are organic, supportive, loving and fun. Systems!

It took a while but it was totally worth it. Crap was sorted. Miracles happened.

We went from getting hundreds and hundreds of requests a day to … really not that many at all.

The snail mail!

So many people send me actual letters now. And cards. And fan-socks. Real things. It’s brilliant.

The new generation.

Now that it’s been more than a year, there are so many people in my Fluent Self-ey world who just completely take the sabbatical for granted.

They know. I don’t do email. That’s just how it is. They aren’t even slightly offended. It’s wonderful.

A lot of people were really understanding.

For every person who threw a fit or “had a growth period” about not being able to reach me (as Hiro so sweetly put it), there were many other people who really got it.

They understood that this was something I needed to do for me, and that it wasn’t at all about me not adoring them.

And we worked on finding other ways to stay connected.

Having an extra two hours in your day.

It’s a little like always having cash in your pocket after you quit smoking.

Whenever I go for a afternoon walk or take a nap or mess around on a project, it’s because of Email Sabbatical. I love email sabbatical.

No shoes.

Shoes, if you’re not familiar with the term, refers to people saying mean things about you.

It still happens. But I don’t have to deal with it because I don’t see it.

Not interacting with people throwing shoes at me means not having to build all that processing-and-recovery time into my schedule. Because even if you delete a shoe, it still hurts.

Less taking on of other people’s stuff = less stress.

Indeed.

Having to clarify what you do and don’t want to see is useful and interesting.

Normally you don’t get a chance to think about what kinds of things you want to see during the day.

And the thing is, as soon as you have to make decisions on stuff, email sabbatical stops being email sabbatical.

Everything got better once I got clear on what I don’t need to see.

Most things.

At first we had ten thousand rules about how to evaluate things and what to do in different situations.

Trying to keep track was exhausting, so eventually we threw them all out and made one general Do Not Disturb Sign Havi Doesn’t Really Want To Be Asked About Things Rule, which is basically this:

If people are happy, thank them and put it in the Folder of Appreciation and Wonderfulness where I’ll see it later, when I’m in the mood for it. If people are unhappy, acknowledge their pain.

If someone wants to have dinner with me and it’s not Johnny Depp, I can’t.

Setting boundaries is healthy.

It’s also painful, scary and hard — but once you do it, you have all this room for you.

Boundaries exist for a reason. To create space. And safety. And quiet. And establish those areas that are yours and where you have sovereignty.

The thing I keep learning the hard way is that respecting your own boundaries is — weirdly — also a way of respecting other people’s boundaries.

I’m still really new at this one, so all I can say is that it’s a good thing that’s also a challenging thing.

Conclusions?

That was my year without email.

Which has basically turned into my life without email.

It’s a lot like when I quit sugar ten years ago.

That first month? Torture. Hell on wheels. After six months, though, there was no going back.

And here we are.

Comment zen for today …

Touchy topic, I know. And this is not in any way meant to be a “this is how you should do things” post.

Here’s what I’d love:

  • your thoughts on process, systems, capacity, interacting with making changes.
  • other things about transitioning and boundaries.
  • support for doing something challenging and hard.

Here’s what I’d rather not have:

  • Explanations of why email actually is really great or why it’s necessary. I’m not anti-email. I’m not anti-you-doing-email. I’m just anti-situations-in-which-Havi-has-to-do-email.
  • Shoulds about how I really ought to have handled things differently.

Love, as always, to the commenter mice and all my Beloved Lurkers. And thanks for the fan socks!