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Friday, March 12, 2010

On Managing Email

I run a small computer and communications company, and most of my interactions with the world seem to go through email. I arrange meetings, send documents, plan schedules, and sometimes even do some work.

Well, today I took a serious look at my inbox. At 10:30 this morning I had 730 threads, many of which are just simple questions like "When can we meet?" to much more complicated conversations. In those 730 threads were a total of 4,271 distinct emails. Of those 4,271 emails were 306 unread emails that I simply never got to over the past 6 months, most of which I was not a direct participant in anyways.

For some reason I decided that today was the day that I would deal with, read and otherwise handle everything that was left incomplete in my inbox, and by midnight I would have nothing left in it.

Many emails, although they aren't exactly junk, are no longer relevant. For instance, a schedule someone sent me for November doesn't have a lot of relevance to my life today. So delete it.

Delete it?

Yes. Delete it.

I know all about the wonders of archiving and the palaver about keeping things around "just in case". Well... my inbox is not a storage location.

So I took anything with attachments that I felt I might need and saved the attachments to appropriate locations, and deleted the emails.

Anything with "When will you be here", "I'll be there at 8:30" style of content got wiped.

And anything that I have decided to just never handle also landed in the bin.

And I wasn't gentle, everything in the trash has been permanently shredded.

And yes yes, I archived a couple things in out of the way places.

So here we are, as I type this the clock just clicked past midnight and after a full day of managing my email I now have the following: 61 emails in 37 threads.

Those 37 are the only things that I couldn't just ignore, and I am now waiting for the other ends of those messages to get back to me. ahhhh

What a day, I feel like my eyes are bleeding.