Monday, March 11, 2013

Auto Pilot

To my son Tommy,

I have my email accounts set up to sort out a bunch of things into folders automatically as they come in.  If it comes from this guy, it automatically goes in this folder, if it comes from that guy, the other folder, etc.  Many of your organizational systems and life coaches and such suggest forms of this automatic organization.  I am beginning to question this conventional wisdom.

Sure there are things that do well for this auto sort.  I don't always need to read all the circular spam I get for signing up at online and retail stores.  It allows the online advertiser to feel he is accomplishing his job while I still get the discounts or such that come from signing up.  So I folder it to peruse later when I have time.  Or at least that is the idea.

It turns out if I ever get the time to read through these, it is usually months later and I feel some form of minor depression because I missed this sale or that.  Even if it isn't something I would buy, I still feel like I missed out because I didn't have the opportunity to turn down the offer when it was still valid.  Then occasionally there is an email that gets sorted that I truly wish I had gotten before earlier.  Had I let it go to my inbox and manually sorted it, I would have caught it right away.

Now since I sign up with a disposable email address for most everything I sign up for, I can stop the madness at anytime.  I don't give out my main address, I set up an email that is like and then if I start getting too many ads or third party spam, I can just delete that disposable address.  It is one of the actual features of my email system and it takes a couple seconds to set up a disposable email.  I am not signing up for a new email address every time, and all the emails come to the same account even though they use different addresses, just some of them come to different folders if I set it up like that.

But like I have said before I have a tendency to be a hoarder.  This even extends into the digital world and it is something I force myself to confront every time I delete or even just archive an email.  But since I use these auto sort options, I don't feel overwhelmed and I can pick and choose my battles on when I confront these extra emails.  Honestly though I should address the situation and would only be forced to do that if I had to see it all the time in my inbox.

You will have to decide for yourself on what to automate in your life.  For somethings it can be quite beneficial but many times that benefit expires and you should re-evaluate all those things on auto pilot.  If it is auto-sorted you don't have to deal with it, but is that good?  If a bill is on auto pay, you don't miss any deadlines and suffer any late fees, but you lose touch with the fact that you are actually paying real money for it..  If you are forced to deal with things in a more manual, case by case will have to address things like "Why do I still receive these crappy emails from this company?  Do I still have a relationship with this company?  Why do I pay X amount of money every month on this auto bill?  Can I live without this and save the money each month?  Am I grown up and organized enough to pay my bills on time without relying on some automation"  These questions are questions that scare the crap out of corporations who enjoy the fact that you have auto pay and auto deposit and auto respond and auto sort and auto deductions and auto donations and auto this and auto that.  Anytime you are doing something that some greedy corporation would rather you not, you might be on the right track.  So though I might not drop all my "auto" things in my life, I sure will take the time to analyze and question each practice.  The one thing that will always be automatic but never on autopilot is my love for you and your mom.

Sincerely with love from your dad,

1 comment:

  1. Non-auto takes time... I hear you and feel your pain.