I remember the last century fondly. In 1996 email management was easy: answer it all the same day, every day. Inbox Zero was my default. Now, oof, Inbox Zero looks like a mythical beast. (A brief definition: inbox = the list of emails newly arrived and/or marked as new so I remember to respond. Ha ha ha.)
So how many of you have ever achieved the nirvana of Inbox Zero? Have you done it this century?
How do you manage your mail?
Some people manage it like laundry: just leave it lying around, and then it either gets so stale you can throw it away without a qualm, or it becomes magically fresh again, i.e. interesting, and you’re motivated to respond. Some people despair on a regular basis, delete everything, and send a cheery general email: just lost my email, so if you didn’t get a response, email me again.
I used to organise and save my mail. I had a massive 12-year archive, which I lost in a hard drive meltdown in 2005. I was mostly relieved–though very sorry to have lost the couple of dozen emails from Carolyn, my sister, who died in 2001.
I have, in fact, achieved Inbox Zero once this year–around February, I think. I wish I’d thought to take a screenshot of the momentous event. Today I’m going to do the cull-the-stale thing (requests for blurbs for books long-since published; requests for essays for journals already in press; requests for auction items for causes long-since failed–are you seeing a pattern?) and reduce the inbox by about a third.
So how about you? How do you deal? Check as many answers as apply.
14 thoughts on “inbox zero — a poll”
Ah, it happened for five days two months ago and now it's going to take twice that long and nothing else to do to restore it…of course, it would help if I only had one email account instead of three, or is it five and does yahoo count if I only use it to sign into…oy
oh, and I forgot to say: good luck with that.
I treat my work email and personal email inboxes very differently.
At work, my inbox is my to-do list. When I check my mail, every new item is immediately acted upon in some fashion:
– filed away to an archive folder
– responded to
– do nothing, which usually means I need to research the item before writing a response, or it's part of an ongoing thread that has not been resolved
Once I started treating new email as action items, I've cut my inbox down to < 20 emails on average, and I zero it out with surprising frequency. My personal mail is filtered into gmail and its perpetual black-hole of an archive.
Delete or do not delete and respond, there is no save.
We were talking about this: Gmail for me. Read is read; plus, with threading, I might very well reply to an email that you sent me a year ago. For me, never delete, but label & sort. I search my email as my means of data management.
The only thing less manageable than my Netflix Q is my email. Currently I have nearly a thousand emails in the inbox waiting to either be deleted or saved in a file. I do answer emails promptly, I just don't delete or file them quickly.
OH! And the many and varied dangers of answering emails after too much wine…I am now slated to speak at some event about photography. I mean in theory I can speak on this topic, it's just the actual getting up and saying something non-asshatty that has me concerned. Or alarmed.
I won't trust the handling of my mail to anyone else, including google. Email of today is the mail of yesteryear. Some correspondence I like to save, other stuff I delete. I use various folders. I am constantly behind in reading, responding, and organizing email. But it really causes me no stress. I get to it if and when. I mostly respond to stuff that matters to me. Sometimes I save stuff to respond to or read later that I find I no longer care about. Occaisionally I forget and it gets further and further down in the inbox. If the inbox gets too big, move it all temporarily to the read mail folder. If that gets to big, I sort by sender and delete at will.
I was going to say that I have no memory of the last century. But then I realized I'm old enough to remember the last century. Damn.
I'm one of those poor me nobody, well practically nobody, emails me people. The ones I do get are one of three kinds: business answers to business questions, email newsletters, and I can't remember the last time someone actually emailed me as in a personal letter about something, anything going on. I thought twitter might be something like that but it turns out that not many people respond to tweets and even fewer to replies to tweets. Blogging has not been too much better and if it weren't for the conversations I get into in the comments I'd have to say that almost noone I know uses the computer/internet/email communication highway to talk back and forth. Well, except you folks.
Thanks,N, this has been really depressing.
If an email is in my inbox, it signifies something still “to do.” Afterward, I delete or file in a folder. I try not to have more emails in my inbox than my age which pleases the OCD part of me. I don't think I would ever get to zero though. There's always something to do…………
If I'm really bored, sometimes I do a culling of the entire account. I'm rarely bored though.
rhbee, sorry it's depressing. I'm always astonished when people don't check their email–but lots of people who don't have day jobs (retired people, those who work for themselves mainly with Real Live People, some artist types, and some old people who have said, Oh fuck you, I'm working on *my* schedule now…) seem to forget about this eworld. Sometimes I'm envious, sometimes irritated.
I think the depressing part for me is that the email appears to be the death of the letter. You don't hear any one taking a poll on if their real mail box is ever empty. And the sad thing is that the email killed the letter without really replacing it.
I agree. I miss receiving letters in the mail — the texture and smell of the paper, the penmanship of the writer, the canceled stamp (esp. when it's international), the time I know it took for the writer to flesh out the letter…
One of my closest undergrad friends sent me a sprawling letter once on a roll of paper towel that she'd written while working at her summer job at a construction company office…. My sisters used to write me joint (and very funny) letters on a typewriter that would intermittently type in red ink. I've kept these and just about any other letter I've ever received from family and good friends. They're fun to reread years later.
I'm thinking of taking a course from the International Graphoanalysis Society. I think handwriting is fascinating.
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