ASH AMBIRGE

Author, CEO & Founder

Learn More >>

The 140 Character Email: An Experiment in Sanity

In: Productive Mother

You know the email.

The one you’re dreading responding to—not because of what it says, but because the second you open it, all you see is A GIANT, LOOMING TSUNAMI OF TEXT lurching at your face as if the sender had taken the entire Sunday edition of The New York Times, reformatted it into one column, printed it off onto a roll of 1992 perforated computer paper, and then laughed as they lit it on fire and dropped it off at your digital doorstep—aka, your inbox—before prancing into the sunset singing, “Tag, you’re it!”

So not it. 

As I indicated here, I think email is becoming a disease—a frantic click-of-the-button, monkey-brained obsession—and I think we can do better.

As business owners, as creatives, as people who spend so much of their life online, email is a necessary medium—and one that can be incredible when used correctly—but one that I do believe can also cause us all to go a little, well, loopy if we let it.

Why? Because it’s an open invitation to tap your brain, any time, any day.

And when the world has an open invitation straight into your brain, it takes it. 

Next thing you know, you’re frantically trying to keep up with this digital box of suck—often feeling guilty if you don’t reply to the world right away, if an email goes unanswered too long, if you don’t match the sentiment or length of the other person’s email—and as a result, you end up using all of your creative energy playing whack-a-mole, trying so hard to “keep up” and “get ahead,” and reach “inbox zero”—which makes me laugh, and laugh, and laugh to imagine what that would actually look like.

For the record, I’ve never reached it. But, I think that’s precisely the point.  None of us will ever reach it, and maybe we shouldn't aspire to.

Email is what’s called a Sisyphean task—the actual name for a task that can never be completed. It comes from Greek mythology (because what doesn’t?), referring to the son of the king who was punished by being forced to roll a boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and then have to push it up again…over and over forever.

Over the last ten years as an entrepreneur, I’ve grown to appreciate that email isn’t the only Sisyphean task—all of business is. And in many aspects, life, too. The work is never done—as much as you’re hoping for that light at the end of the tunnel. But, you know what? It doesn’t have to be a bad thing, if you can learn how to be IN the tunnel without wanting to run out of there screaming and crying and yelling and pulling a blanket over your heard every day of your life.

What if, instead, of worrying so much about being done, we got better at “doing?”

Right now, we’re still acting like it’s the early 90’s (checkmate, that’s twice I got to talk about the 90’s)—even though the demands on our time are quite different. As email volume has increased exponentially for all of us, and all sorts of other platforms have been introduced, now we’re tasked with keeping up with not only our business inbox, but our personal inbox, our Facebook inbox, our Facebook wall, our Twitter inbox, our feed, our Linked In box, our Linked In feed…not to mention the other clown circus of text messages, iMessages, What’s App messages, Instagram comments, blog comments, Google alerts and not to mention those mysterious old fashioned things called phone calls. 

And the crazy part about all of that—is that we’re actually trying to keep up with it all!

Is this not insane to you?

Why is no one talking about how completely ludicrous this is?

Why is everyone content to have ding after notification after alert ring through their eardrums, hurriedly rushing to their phones, their computers, their inboxes to try and push the rock back up the hill?

As someone who makes a living entirely online, I appreciate technology more than most. But I also know that good can become evil when it’s not managed properly.

As the rest of the world stays content with having their lives invaded by any and every stranger who feels like sending a request, it’s up to YOU to decide to what extent you’re going to participate. Because people, by nature, are needy. And if you let them manipulate your time, they will. It’s YOUR job to step up and actively set your own boundaries—or risk being trampled over by an internet full of individuals who are, frankly, all trying to do the best they can to get ahead.

We need to be more mindful. More mindful about other people’s time, and more mindful about our own.

We need to respect one another, in a world where disrespect has become the norm. Because the problem is not that the world wants to trample over your boundaries; the problem is that none of us have any, anymore.

So, I’ve made the decision to be proactive about my own boundaries, and get really clear on the ways I’d like to communicate with the world—and vice versa. And the biggest thing that keeps coming up for me?

Brevity.

It isn’t about shutting people out, but rather, using things like email and social media as helpful tools; not disabling crutches.

I want to live in a world where I interact more with people in person than I do behind a screen, and I want to live in a world where, when I am behind that screen, I’m happy to use the tools I’ve been graced with—email included—because it’s no longer an all-consuming, soul crushing ordeal.

And to me, it all comes back to brevity.

 

And the only way any of us are ever going to have the peace of mind we’re looking for?

Is to stop looking, and start asking.

 

May 30

2017

How to Be the Most Productive Motherfauxer in the Room

May 30, 2017

When I first started working for myself, I was like: OH HEY I HAVE ALL THESE HOURS! LOOK AT THEM IN ALL THEIR GLOWY DELIGHT! If the idea was to “be booked,” then great—I would be motherfauxing booked. (Get it? It’s the faux fuck, and it’s coming to a screen near you.) The surprise, of […]

In: Productive Mother

READ ME >>

Jul 2

2015

Turns Out, You *Can’t* Do it All—So How Do You Pick?

Jul 2, 2015

You know who’s funny? People who try to do everything. Talk about a dysfunctional relationship with time. Contrary to popular opinion, time is not always there for you when you need it. Yet, then you are all cute, telling yourself you’ll just “fit it in”—whatever “it” might be that day. Why does everyone think they’ll fit it in? […]

In: Productive Mother

READ ME >>

Jul 31

2012

Be Selective With Your Energy. In Fact, Be Downright Arrogant.

Jul 31, 2012

I’ve stopped checking my emails every day. Before that, I shut down my Behind Closed Doors program. And this past Saturday night out with the girls? I drank…sparkling water. Yet, I can confidently confirm that I am not pregnant, suicidal, dying of cancer (at the moment, anyway) or just having such great sex that I […]

In: Productive Mother

READ ME >>

Mar 11

2015

You’re always going to have fifty million things to do—PLUS that asshole’s bar mitzvah.

Mar 11, 2015

There’s a lot of pressure these days to be perfect. (Says the girl carrying thirty extra pounds and a dysfunctional pouty face.) As someone who used to be very all-or-nothing, over the years I’ve had to make some major peace with the fact that all-or-nothing is a gigantic, sweaty faced fool’s errand. :: How many times have you thought about […]

In: Productive Mother

READ ME >>

Oct 12

2017

We Are Overthinking EVERYTHING

Oct 12, 2017

We’ve all got these really exhausting mental scripts we tell ourselves. For example, earlier today I was telling myself I was going to exercise, but then I told myself that, well, maybe notttttt, because I had something heavy for lunccchhhh, so I probably wouldn’t have the energggggy, and then it’d be harder than usuaaaal, and […]

In: Productive Mother

READ ME >>

Jan 3

2014

Feel Guilty Anytime You’re Not “Being Productive”?

Jan 3, 2014

I wrote today’s tip earlier today about copywriting. It was pretty fucking good, actually. I might have even made a joke about ham. But then I stalled. I hated the tip. The tip was useful, for sure. The tip was original, most definitely. And the tip was something that some people might have even printed […]

In: Productive Mother

READ ME >>

Jul 31

2015

The 140 Character Email: An Experiment in Sanity

Jul 31, 2015

You know the email. The one you’re dreading responding to—not because of what it says, but because the second you open it, all you see is A GIANT, LOOMING TSUNAMI OF TEXT lurching at your face as if the sender had taken the entire Sunday edition of The New York Times, reformatted it into one […]

In: Productive Mother

READ ME >>

I'm a Bad Influence on Women

Hey, I’m Ash! Twenty years ago I was a small town girl growing up in a trailer park in rural Pennsylvania. Fifteen years ago, I lost my family and everything I knew right as I became the first to graduate college. Fourteen years ago, I found myself leaving everything behind for a new life in the city where I could be “normal.” Ten years ago I realized normal was the most disappointing thing that ever happened to me. Nine years ago I quit my job in advertising and pursued my dreams as a creative writer. Eight years ago, I built a 6-figure business doing what I love using nothing more than the Internet and my voice. And now, today, I’m the founder of The Middle Finger Project, an irreverent media co. that helps other women find their voice and teaches them to use it to build whatever the f*ck they want to. With a book coming out with Penguin Random House in February 2020 (YASSS, WE’RE A PRODUCT IN TARGET!) I’m proud to be a bad influence on women and guide them into doing something disobediently brave with their life and their career.

Enter your email address and I’ll send you my advice column every week sharing everything I’ve learned—and so much more.

But no serial killers. I promise I won’t send those.

Privacy Policy Info Here