Saturday, May 9, 2009

it's official: I know too many people

Today at noon, I had 1000 emails in my inbox, 84 of them unread. The earliest email dated back to 2002.

I had to do something.

Six hours later, I'm down to 368 emails, 31 unread. The earliest email dates to 2005. I feel better, but only slightly; names I'd forgotten have now regained urgency in my mind, and I'm back to feeling overwhelmed by all the wonderful people I've had to ignore in order to have a work life and a personal life.

More and more, Facebook makes sense to me; it's great for maintaining fabulous people in your life without having to write to each of them individually all day every day.

How do other people stay on top of all their correspondence without sacrificing work and life? I've heard of CEOs taking 'email vacations' in order to play catch up, only to be derided by other CEOs. How do those derisive CEOs do it? Do they hire assistants to answer all their email for them?

This is some handy advice from What's Best Next for zeroing-out your email inbox, but it's easier said than done:
1. Process the items in order
2. Process them one at a time
3. Never put anything back into your inbox
It goes on to explain setting up three email folders: Answer and Read for messages which would require more than two minutes to answer or read, and Hold for messages requiring you to wait on a third party to reply. Also, you're supposed to delete as much as possible (ideally everything, unless it's super-important and has to be saved on your computer for future reference). And you're supposed to never empty your email trash, but instead use it as an archive; GMail users can simply click "Archive" for messages. Once a day, you need to actually Answer and Read your longer emails and zero out those folders, too.

I'm going to try this, wish me luck....

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