email. Finally a subject I am a verified consultant level expert on — I have written articles and taught classes on managing your Inbox effectively. But, Tish Harrison Warren is one of the many people who would find my advice and counsel less than helpful. Her chapter on how she finds it unpleasant when opening her Inbox speaks to a growing sense of helplessness in a flood of technology sent to rob us of our efficacy, our productivity, our self-worth.
Saint Benedict spoke of Ora et Labora or the “Prayer and Work” which was often applied to the farming of a monastery plot. The notion that there exists simple divinity in prayerfully turning the earth daily for the greater good. But here is the problem with attempting to apply the Ora et Labora of a vegetable plot to our Inbox. The garden has a border.
We all feel acutely overwhelmed by our daily tasks. In our lifetime, technology has multiplied that molehill of mundanity to a mountain. Our desire to be the best Christian we can be through a job well done is constantly undercut by a never ending flood of reminders, spam, checklists, meeting invites and declines. All seemingly designed to distract from the real job of just getting things done.
Here is my gift to you; most of it, you can skip. You can ignore everything beyond the borders you draw. Turn the earth that is in your garden and let the rest go to seed. Answer your mother’s e-mail about what to get your sister for her birthday (this is clearly in your garden) — ignore the note asking you and ten other people what should be done about the missed deadline on a project (somebody else will answer, I promise).
In this daily deluge — we often forget to ask ourselves how much of this is really relevant. All this connectedness has gotten in the way of being connected. I know it hurts your Protestant work ethic, but trust me on this — sometimes you should take solace in a job not done. Sometimes the Ora et Labora only applies up to the edge of the garden. That urgent message about the upcoming sales demo — that is over in the brambles, not in your garden.