A few days ago, I had a glorious moment behind my computer. I finally managed it; My inbox was empty! That hasn’t happened recently and I felt fantastic. Just after that I thought: actually, that’s ridiculous!

Do you know that feeling? Why does an empty inbox make us feel so good? This is what this blog is about. After reading it, you’ll not only know why such an empty inbox is “nice“, but also how to make sure your life is also nice when your inbox overflows! 

My inbox is empty …

We all spend a lot of time and energy managing our email traffic. Managing the emails sometimes seems an end in itself and not a means of contact.

People are really willing to invest a lot there. We stay on it longer and give our inboxes a lot of our time and attention. We read books on email management that promise us the ideal solution … I take myself as an example: On average I get 85 relevant emails per day. Not counting spam. About 60 of those e-mails expect a response. On the same day. That means that I have to distribute my attention to 60 subjects, in addition to what my workday requires. And all of that, to manage that (annoying) inbox! 

… so everything’s okay!

Recently, one of the people with whom I collaborate, remarked that my response speed leaves something to be desired. That’s what our society demands of us; Immediate response to emails and other forms of communication. While it constantly demands my attention and takes away from what I’m actually busy doing.

Nevertheless, we all give that inbox a lot of space in our lives, more actually than we’d like. Emptying our inboxes gives us the feeling that we have control over our lives. If my inbox is empty, I’ve done my job, I feel good.

Our motives

Where does this need for an empty inbox actually come from? To understand this from the Transactional Analysis (TA) perspective, we need a piece of TA theory. We’ve all developed a kind of survival mechanism in our lives. This is what we call the Script. In this, we know five motivations or drivers, which have enabled us to survive in the family in which we grew up:

  1. Be strong and work hard

In some families, hard work and strength are a requirement for being OK. If you work hard you’ll be appreciated for it. If you announce on Saturday morning that you have no plans for the whole weekend, then doesn’t go down well.

  1. Be perfect

If you do something, you should do it well. In everything you do, you want to achieve the perfect result. That’s what’s expected of you! If you achieve perfection, you feel good, but if you get an average result, you feel guilty about it.

  1. Doing things for others

It is important not to disappoint other people. You must be ready as ready as possible to help others meet their needs. That’s why you can’t relax. And that’s just what you need!

  1. Do your best

If you get compliments because you always do your best, there’s a danger that you’ll take on too much. Ultimately, it will be impossible to properly complete everything that you have taken on.

  1. Hurry up

When you are fast, you get a lot of things done in a short time. If you’ve learned that you need to clean your room quickly and have to eat your food quickly, you’ll often continue to do that in your mature life. But do you enjoy something if you do it quickly? 

Modern addition
If I read these five drivers, I actually miss another sixth one, related to our modern society. I’d like to add that! You know what’s coming:

  1. Clear your inbox

If your inbox is empty, it gives you a sense of control over your life. You have done all your tasks and that’s why you are doing well. Therefore, you are prepared to sublimate your own need for rest and focus on your inbox. Do you recognize this? Then the following quote might be an eye-opener for you:

“The inbox is nothing but a convenient organizing system for other people’s agendas.”

– Brendon Burchard.

Do you mistake inbox stress for love?

If you look at the drivers above, they are not bad at all. It’s great to work hard, to strive for perfection and to have fun! Of course it’s also good to keep your inbox empty.

It will only be problematic if you put your own needs to on side because of it. This will help you develop a pattern that always returns and you are not always aware of. Then you mistake your constant inbox stress for love, as if nothing is to be done about it.

This is not right!

That you mistake your inbox stress for love, as if nothing can be done, is not right. Your inbox and email traffic are a means of communication and an empty inbox cannot be an end in itself. If you see it like this, the reason is often an insidious mindset that you don’t even recognize. You make patterns in your life, even if they are not good for you. By recognizing your own patterns, you get more influence over your life.

TA offers results

Do you want to investigate what your driving forces are? What things in your life are you willing to pay a high price for? And what is that price?

TA provides tools to make you aware of your own patterns and also, to change them. You can also use TA when guiding others in this process, for example clients in your coaching practice.

Want to learn how TA can help you and others? Then register for the basic education TA. You’ll then learn to recognize this and many other models and how to apply them. The first classes start again on September 29, 2017.

You are welcome!


Yes, I want more information about basic training



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Linda Hoeben
+32 474 920 877
Rommersom 1A, 3320 Hoegaarden