Email is the bane of my existence

A while ago, I was a little sick for a couple weeks with bronchitis, so I didn’t answer as much email for a couple weeks. I didn’t stop replying to email, I just didn’t answer as much. And in a couple weeks, I was 100 emails behind. So I took one day with no meetings and just tried to power through all my email. At the end of the day, I’d caught up with all my emails except for that day–but I was still down by 80 emails. Another 4-5 more hours later, I’d finally caught up with all my email.

Sure, I’d managed to help some people and report some bugs, but sheesh, it sucks to blow a day with no meetings scheduled.

How do you keep email under control?

88 Responses to Email is the bane of my existence (Leave a comment)

  1. If you define ‘under control’ as ‘not intrusive so I can get work done’, I keep it on a seperate machine from my main work box.

    .. that, or a general dislike to those emailing you might help? ;)

  2. Harith

    Usually I reply emails early in the morning and late in the afternoon, unless its an urgent matter. I learnt also to make my replies very short.

  3. I find I’m burying more and more important emails, and have no solution.
    I wonder how much of the problem is the super low barrier to writing people about things? Are blog posts and comments a better way to communicate?

  4. Andrew

    1. I dont read or respond to emails that I am CC’ed on.
    2. I use filters for known time wasters.
    3. In the morning, I flag emails that require followup or action.
    4. Each afternoon I spend a set time working through flagged emails.

  5. Rules, rules, rules! I organize my email by importance within folders. Clients first, friends & family next, unknown last. I always plug through my clients first since they expect an immediate answer. The rest may take a little longer.

    Some of my friends utilize the flagging option in Outlook quite a bit, too. I like folders. I plug through a couple hundred emails a day!

    As well… if it takes more than 3 emails, it probably deserves a phone call or a meeting. Email just isn’t enough sometimes.

  6. I’m with Doug Karr here.

    I usually answer emails in the following order:

    1) Clients/employees of clients (which is 95% of them).
    2) Sectorlink (my web host)
    3) Customers of clients that I have to deal with directly.
    4) Emails from various scripts indicating technical issues/bugs (e.g. emails from custom 500s).
    5) Friends (my sisters and nephew never email me, so family doesn’t count).
    6) New customers, depending on if I can handle them.
    7) People I know online from various capacities (web design, SEO, fantasy ball league, whatever.)
    8) Anyone else I feel like dealing with. If I think you’re going to annoy me or piss me off, I probably won’t bother.

  7. rick gregory

    Matt,

    One simple rule cuts down a lot of stuff. I filter message that I’m CCed on into a CC folder. This helped me because a lot of the emails were FYI only… but I’d still deal with them as if I was on the To: line. A couple of caveats… 1) you can’t tell people you do this or they’ll simply add you to the TO: line, and 2) this won’t work that well if a lot of your emails aren’t CCs.

  8. A simple policy. if the number of unread mails reaches 10 – deal with it. If the total number of read/unread mails in my inbox reaches page 2 – deal with it.

    I gasp in astonishment when I see people’s inboxes that have literally thousands of unread emails. That would send me into a breakdown I think :)

    -Jamie

  9. Think twice before firing off a email and starting a conversation.

    Just because it is easy does not mean it is need. I just ask myself if I was writing a memo or letter would I. About 70% I don’t end up sending a message.

  10. How ’bout I e-mail my response :D

  11. Filters Filters Filters, that’s what would do..and auto trash those i dont know…but i am amazed with some spammers that they now use gif for medicinal advert, such as the colorfull bars before showing the V*ag*a tabs.

  12. Sam Agoniste

    Agree with much other poster’s approaches. Have used rules (esp the cc one), folders, prioritisation/triage etc myself. Other productivity tips: deal with emails **very briefly** instantly as they arrive; don’t feel you have to reply to every email – the internet has millions of people, and no one should expect your personal attention – if you have any doubt about replying, hit delete; if really pressed, only open your email client once or twice a day, and process emails to a max of 30 mins per session; ruthlessly scan your inbox subject lines, and delete email that doesn’t need action without reading it. And finally, if it all gets too much, just delete everything in your inbox and start afresh. It’s only email.

  13. Are these all internal Google emails Matt? You must be a very busy man!

  14. I reply in order recieved, and use my inbox as a todo-list. I never leave work with a single email in my inbox, and after I have responded or acted on the email, I file it away in a huge series of sub folders. It is very satisfying to leave work with the inbox empty.

  15. My rule is: never leave an unresolved email. As they arrive i read them and answer them (if it’s the case). That way they never add up.

  16. Have you got a Blackberry Matt? I hate to suggest it, but when I’m swamped with emails and have lots of meetings I catch up with emails in my spare time in the evenings….

  17. Guy

    Two things I do – Book out a regular meeting with myself on Monday morning and Friday afternoon to manage email (call it planning if anyone asks). This makes my time show as unavailable at those times in the calendar and I try really, realllly hard not to give the time up to other things.
    The second thing is attitude, email is work, I’m paid to do work for the company mostly in core hours, so I stopped thinking of email as this extra duty I am obliged to complete in addition to my day job. Something else has to give – better it’s some meetings than your health.

  18. @Ian,

    Yeah, so did I until recently

  19. Hey Matt,

    I just wanted to ask were those emails professional or personal and from whom you get mails regularly.

    Akash

  20. David

    Important messages -> Blackberry
    Interesting Messages -> Reading on the notebook while having breakfast
    Others -> Several accounts (Yahoo, GMail and several accounts on my domains which I access through the webmailer) which I open on demand.
    Sometimes I just delete unread messages. Those of importance are usually sent again ;-)

  21. David

    almost forgot. still looking for the ultimate solution for reading the important developer lists myself.
    the newsgroups are very important from time to time.

  22. Dave (Original)

    I use Signatures in Outlook Express to add many replies with 1 click. Let’s face it, we end up answering the same questions over-and-over.

  23. EGOL

    I had a couple of coworkers who sent cc: or bcc: to everyone – even for chit-chat and BS. So, I told them that they were spammers. They didn’t like it one bit but now they are not filling my inbox.

  24. Instead of typing Everything from the beginning for each email
    create several templates in NOTEPAD and save to desktop

    then copy and paste common bits of information that you could either ADD extra personalized replies to – or send as is, if it is for a common request

    Other tactics like AUTOPREVIEW – and READING PANE – and Turning Off email Images (by default) on Outlook will cut the opening and reading time in half – just right-click & Reply directly from the Inbox list

  25. Rules are my saving grace…

    I read through every email that goes through my inbox (sans-spam and rules) and assign them to either a pending or a to-do folder, if it’s urgent I leave it in the inbox.

    Throughout the day it’s inbox first then todo and pending as the week progresses. But there is no way I can get through emails in one day if I had to act on each one.

  26. I found an easy answer.

    I gave up email!

    That’s right, I don’t use email anymore. I have the required account for my WHOIS information that I check from time to time, but that’s it.

    My websites all have forms that send emails, which get filtered by subject lines and sent to the 1 account I check, or directly to my cell phone as a text message.

    My entire work knows my AIM or MSN and that’s how they get ahold of me.

    The work email is only for programmers from other companies, however after the first one I give them my AIM or MSN and we use that.

    It’s so much more convient.

  27. I use Mozilla Thunderbird. I use the labels to mark any incoming, high priority message blue, then I mark any to-do tasks red, follow-ups orange, emails with passwords and ftp information green. I also have my inbox separated by date so I can easily see what came today or yesterday. Plus the quick file extension to help me get them into local folders and out of the inbox as soon as I get them completed. It’s still a tough battle, but it helps.

  28. Bob

    Don’t setup your email account to automatically check for new mail. Do it manually when you are ready to deal with mail. If you must setup an automatic check do it at a reasonable timespan like every thirty minutes. People who have their email client setup to check mail every five minutes have an automatic distraction every five minutes.

  29. I tell to my colleagues that if is something important i’ll do faster by IM than by email, so by this way i have avoid a lot of mail stuff from daily work.
    By email as a lot of people told, the best thing is to classify the mail client with filter folders and a special folder only for emails sended to you personally.

  30. One of the great disadvantages of e-mail is the possibility to reply.

    So, when you have a clean-up day in you’re mailbox, normally, the day after, you even got a greater damage by all the usual e-mail and all the reply’s of the day before.

    My e-mail is always expanding, but I usually reply and give my answer and have a cc to someboyd else who will be responsible for the outcome of that e-mail.

    But, it isn’t the best way to decrease you’re e-mail.

    The best solution? Stop e-mailing, just pop in the office’s of you’re co-worker’s….it’s good for the exercise too.

  31. Like Doug, it’s all about rules, filters, prioritization, etc. I have some very complex folder structure and multiple filing with rules, color coding so that I don’t miss e-mails from important people, etc. It’s mostly a matter of using filters to get the unimportant stuff out of your field of view.

    For the record, if you’re actually READING all of your e-mail, you’ll always have a hard keeping up. Most e-mail you’ll get, depending on your position in a company, is simply advisory and warrants nothing more than a glance.

  32. Huh, well, mostly I get spams, so I’m pretty fast thourhgt my mails, but I have such a problem with forums and journal comments, this is takin’ up a lot of time. I’m outa computer over the weekend so it takes up to 3 hours to check the new messages and reply to them Monday morning. Later the week I take about 30 minutes in the morning and the evening to go throught the messages ( and some mails ) . . . Because it takes too much time to handle all this my presence on some boards is very rare. With a couple of hours extra paer day I could manage all this, could be active on all boards and read/reply to all mails imediatelly ( except spams :D ) . . . Hmmmm, a few hours extra time, hey. . . let’s move to Mars.

    So . . . I take some time in the morning and the evening for all messages

  33. I use BaseCamp to log requests. Some emails can be handled directly, and the rest get copied into BaseCamp and assigned a deadline. At the end of each day, my inbox is empty.

  34. Matt Crouch

    Yea, you find the funniest things when you check private messages too LOL ;)

  35. Matt,

    I find I can knock off a huge chunk of my e-mails with a quick half hour of personal phone calls. It only takes a few moments to call someone back, answer the question in their e-mail, and build on the relationship with that person at the same time. Obviously this won’t work with all e-mails but IMO it works with many.

    See you in Vegas
    Bob

  36. Karen Kerr

    Another way to keep Email messages under control is to use a service like ifbyphone, where you can phone up to listen to your Email messages, reply, or delete them.
    Since you can do this from any telephone, you can do it anywhere – commuting to and from work or at the gym.

  37. Yep. Rules and folders like Doug said. Clients and customers get answered before anyone else. Client folders are also broken down into individual folders based on their status with me such as A (actively in the market) B (will be active within 3 months) C (6 months) and D (back burner). Then I stay up half the night:)

  38. Bob.. I tried that.

    Have you any Idea how long it takes to download 6,000 emails?

  39. So what did everyone do before e-mail?

  40. Tricia.. most of us went outside, made telephone calls, interacted with actual physical members of our own species, had a reason to buy stamps, and had girlfriends whose names didn’t end in .jpg

    The rest sat in their parents basements with dimly lit CRT monitors and Usenet.

  41. Matt Crouch

    @ryan and tricia — Fax machines! lol

  42. I like what Harith says.. I always read them in the morning.. answer important things or just delete what isnt important.. Make your own programm of the day, your own rules.. I check them every day. Describe your tasks for the day.. and follow it.

  43. Sys Admn

    At least once a day, my inbox has 0 emails. A simple process helps me reach this goal.

    1) Separate email processing and task execution. With the exception of The Two Minute Rule, time spent cleaning the inbox should be used only to clean the inbox. Most of my work email falls into three categories – asking for information or my time, supplying information or time, and “stuff”. Stuff includes true junk (recipes, jokes, noise), and non-work items of varying importance (lunch plans, social interactions, etc). The point of email processing should be sorting the inbox by importance and urgency, not acting on requests or information.

    Two Minute Rule – if you can take care of an item in two minutes or less, you can do it now. If you hit a snag and it’s going to take longer, consider scheduling time to do it later. You can look for things you do often and create job aids to squeeze them into two minutes. For example, preparing canned responses to frequently asked questions (“To be removed from the evil Web Page list, see URL ….”) which can be personalized and sent in two minutes can save time, and more importantly, keep you in the flow of the moment.

    2) 4 D’s – As you sort each item, touch it only once. Before moving onto the next item, decide how to handle it using the 4D’s:
    a) Delete it. That doesn’t necessarily mean do nothing – for a lot of the social stuff, a quick response (“Thanks, I’ll look at this” or “Please do not send any more rutabaga recipes – I’m allergic”), then deleting the message is all that is required.
    b) Defer it. Schedule another time to think about the message. For example, suppose you get a message reminding you that you’re presenting at next week’s staff meeting. Decide how much time you need to create the presentation, find a spot on your calendar, and reserve it. File the message and let Google Desktop find it when you need it.
    c) Delegate it. The old saw I’ve heard is that you should ask yourself, “Am I the best person to do this?”. Of course, if the mail is from your boss, the answer may always be yes :-) If the answer is no, it’s important to hand off well and follow up, especially if the request is from a customer, executive, etc. Reply to the message with “This is taken care of by the Receiving Department. I’ve asked them to look into it. Please let me know if you need any further help.” Then forward it to the correct person, AND schedule a task for an hour, day, or week as appropriate. In the task, follow up with the person you delegated to, and the person who made the request. You’ll be amazed at how flattered someone is when you ask them out of the blue if their issue was resolved. If it’s the person you’ve delegated to, phrase it nicely – “Did you see that? Is there anything you need from me to take care of it? Thanks for taking care of this customer…” No one likes work dropped in their lap, but if you treat them like a team member and not a “resource”, you’ll stand out.
    d) Do it. Finally, if it is important, and it requires some action (“Please submit your budget requests by COB Tuesday..”), In accordance with Rule 1, schedule time to take the action; don’t break your rhythm and wander off for a half hour completing the task. For items that make it this far, schedule first by importance, then by urgency. If something is important to them, but not to you, set realistic expectations, and negotiate. (“I understand you want me to review your work plan right now, but I have to get my budget requests in. Will Thursday do?”)

    On the downside, an empty mailbox doesn’t mean less work.
    On the upside, you’re doing what is important, and are not haunted by 300 items you’ve already read.

  44. I don’t. I just end up ignoring all but the most important and/or interesting stuff. It’s sad but true. Life’s too short for most of the other junk in my inbox.

  45. Manager Tools (podcast) has some pretty good tips — I’ve found it to be helping me out quite a bit since implemeting 90% of them:

    http://www.manager-tools.com/2005/09/got-email/

    I still can’t get off my Blackberry though.

  46. Why get to them all at once, if you missed when they came? Keep answering the new ones as you do regularly, and then pick up a few from missed ones each day.Important first.

  47. I just thought of something, and I’m probably wrong. But if I don’t ask, I won’t know if I’m wrong.

    Matt: do you check your UNC email account as well as your work account? And if so, do you have a professional reason to do so?

  48. I use outlook at work – so this is what I do
    1) delete spam in the am (10-15 minutes usually)
    2) set up rules for things that need filing but not necessarily immediate attention – or that wont need attention until something comes up (ie. Google Alerts)
    3) make future things you need to do tasks with assigned dates
    4) file the fyi stuff you need to keep
    5) set up recurring reminders in your calendar and unsubscribe to reminder emails (like the credit card company “your statement is ready” junk.)
    6) Be selective in who you give your work email address to – i dont give my important email addy to my kids or ebay.com – they get my hotmail (er…gmail) addy and I check it when I have time.

    Ive converted most of my co-workers to this plan and they no longer deal with 300 emails in their inbox – if you file it, it’s where it needs to be and you can find it – without it being one of 300 other things you dont have time to look at.

  49. I’ve got it — Just redirect all your mail to Doug Karr and Multi Adam, they seem to have it all organized really well!

  50. at least now we know why Matt doesn’t publish his Google email address on here eh?

  51. I just ignore them.
    If someone wants to get in touch they will repeately email and then after i spot the name 3 or 4 times i may read it ;)
    Works well.

  52. Delete, delete, delete!
    Filter, filter, filter!

    Don’t reply to an email that does not specifically request a reply, unless you have something you really need to say. Break the “reply to all” chain whenever possible, that way you only have one pwerson replying to your comment, not 20 people.

  53. Meetings?

    No time for meetings with all the emails to answer/reply/forward. After all, with emails it’s a continuous meeting.

    I leave meetings to the others and take care of my emails ! :-)

    Martin

  54. You can create folders. If the email came from some specific email address, you can direct to a specific folder. Thereby, you can tell which are more important.

    Also, I handle the easiest task first. Thereby, you can finish many task in as little time. You feel like you accomplish more. Pure phsychology.

  55. Email was built to create convenience in communicating with friends, officemates and other fellows. As we see the benefit of this technology, lead time has shortened, we receive quick replies and we respond quickly sometimes. Our world has been spinning faster than ever before.

    I can’t imagine how we can work out things as efficient as now without emails. But this technology also brought us headaches.

    What I do:

    1. Manage folders for specific contacts. Or events. Unclassified emails get directly through the Inbox. By then you can sort according to priorities. Getting the “Mark as Spam” helps cut time in poring over the mails.

    2. I don’t have to reply to emails immediately unless it is necessary. But by doing so, I have the risk of forgetting them simply because they aren’t marked Unread anymore.

    3. Read and don’t have to reply. But I have always been replying just to keep up with them just because I don’t receive lots of mails.

    I wish email programs would act a little more like CRM systems.

  56. Matt, I just blog now full time. Just never open up gmail or Outlook. It works like a champ everyday. lol.

    Only kidding. But I will say that I use rules in Outlook pretty heavily and I will say that some spam has been coming in lately is getting tricky – I got today that read in the subject, “hey – don’t bother coming in to work today…” they are getting creative I will say. Oi vey!

    Matthew

  57. I just use gmail, it sends half of the important emails direct to the spam bin where I promptly delete them along with the 500 other emails that get in there every day. Thus, gmail makes me twice as productive than Outlook used to. Of course, my phone rings a bit more now that I’m using gmail.

  58. I’m stuck using outlook, but one of the features I like is to organize senders by color. This makes it easy to flag my important contacts. I’m using Barracuda Spam filters, this cuts down on most of the junk.

  59. Keniki, dude, buddy, go easy man. You’re starting to sound like a sailor there.

    And in the midst of all of it, you managed to totally lose at least one person in terms of making your point. What in the world are you talking about?

  60. Controlling email and all the little distractions that come flying at you everyday is this simple:

    I call it the power hour. I allow 1 hour/day from v-mail and e-mail responses.

    Power Hour #1:
    The first 15 minutes of the day are devoted to email & voice mail
    The next 45 minutes are devoted to responding to what I have to respond to

    A quick scan of the email is done:
    I move email that needs to be read into a “Must Read” folder
    I delete everything else

    If the email is that important the sender can call me and leave a brief message.

    Voice mail is equally distracting as email:

    Long winded messages usually get the delete button pushed immediately.

    At the end of the week, do a quick review of the “Must Read” folder and if it isn’t a must read anymore, delete it.

    Hope that helps a bit

    The seco

  61. Thanks for the suggestions, everyone. Sys Admn, that’s a book in itself! Have you read “time management for sys admins”? It’s pretty good even for programmers or techie managers.

    Dean, it varies but often my work-related email is 50/50 internal vs. external, and the vast majority of my email is work-related.

    SimonH, I do the equivalent with my laptop. I try to stay out of most meetings, but if I’m in one and it’s not relevant to me, I’m reading feeds or taking care of email.

    Jeremy, part of me really wants to do that. My email inbox is my todo list though, so if I let it just flow forever, I think it would get pretty stressy.

  62. craig

    I turn my vacation response on when I am very busy with a message to contact someone else. It lightens your load a bit, gets you off the hook, and dishes more work on someone of your choosing.

  63. I get around 120 emails per day. Most of them I just delete after reading the subject. If the subject interests me I will read it.

    I can’t quite get my head around some of the palaver people email about. It’s so time wasting and it just plainly annoys me.

    Might be time to employ an email reading maid.

  64. Matt,

    To manage my email loads, I follow two rules. Rule 1 : Work with emails on some standard allocated timings. By this we can cover up all the other works in the rest of the timings without interruptions from emails. Rule 2 : Prioratization of the email based on Importance & Urgency. This helps in putting our time and effort in the right things at the right time :~).

    Hope this helps.

    Regards,
    D Sarathy.

  65. I have a strong filtering system, which combines an anti-spam module and a regular sorting engine. All the e-mail gets sorted into 3 groups:
    1. Very Important mail (gets redirected to another email box and then transferred via email2phone.net service to my mobile phone)
    2. Spam (goes to the Junk folder)
    3. other mail – i read it when I have time for it.

    The system works.

  66. Sam Agoniste

    Hey Matt, I am also moved to ask – what is Google doing about the problem of email overload?

    Why blow $1.65 billion on an online video jukebox when there are some real serious productivity problems affecting millions of people (like your email problem) for all the PhD code gods at Google to try and solve instead.

    Better to put some resources and brain-power towards that sort of problem, instead of Google wasting time and effort playing with toys like YouTube.

    Sorry. It had to be said.

    Oh, and GMail is not the solution.

  67. chris

    There are good programs to filter spam automatically. Once in a while I change my e-mailaddress. Since I don’t use it in bulletin boards (and usenet) anymore, I don’t get many spam.

    If spam is filtered out, there aren’t many remaining mails and it’s no problem to deal with them.

  68. Multi-Worded Adam, shouldn’t number 1 be “mum” (or mom)?

    I don’t know about you, but ignoring my mother is something I do at my peril. If I don’t answer her email immediately, it is soon followed by an urgent phonecall asking me why I haven’t answered her email immediately.

    Predominantly the question is ‘why haven’t you read the “funny” joke and responded?’. I say “funny” because something that she finds funny generally makes me want to pick up my laptop and throw it into the nearest wall.

    Ignore the phonecall! I hear you say… Well I would except that strikes me off the Christmas List ;)

    So apart from that I think your organisation is spot on :)

  69. People will use the most convenient and effective means to communicate with you, if you’ve weaned them off the phone, and IM, and other things that interrupt, then you are ahead.

    As such practically all my communications are by email, At the end of the day, all that is left in the box is long term tasks. I wish I could say the same for my personal inbox at home.

    Your problem sounds like the meetings to me. At one place we has a sign “meetings the socialable alternative to work”.

    How many of those meetings are really useful/achieving stuff? How many could have been done quicker. Have they taken the chairs out of the meeting rooms yet?

    Also lose the unneeded mailing lists (or set them to “no email”).

    If all else fails install a really complex CR system “to authenticate yourself just include at the start of the subject line both square root of -1 separated by a comma”. At least then you’ll be sure that the people writing to you are bright enough to understand the answers ;)

  70. Kelly Jones

    I have several thousand emails which I have as yet responded to and the list grows every day. The other day I replied to an email from a friend, a year late. She was thrilled to hear from me but I have to wonder at the extra stress it puts on my brain to constantly have to remember to email that friend — even though it’s something you want to do. I did the same thing the other day to someone who had emailed me two years ago.

    While there are a lot of emails here Matt telling you how to manage your email, I’d like to point out something a little less obvious.

    If you’re overwhelmed by email, maybe, just maybe you have too much on your plate and your email box is the barometer for your work load.

    My suggestion is that you hire yet another person like you did with Adam. The President of the US doesn’t read every newspaper — he has an entire department summarize all the newspapers for him. Delegate Matt — there are things you’re doing which others people should be doing for you.

    KJ

  71. I think Kelly Jones had it right. Your e-mail is or may be your “job” so if you find that it is consuming more than one or two work days to properly respond and clear out than your bandwidth is simply saturated. If this is not your job then you may want to consider whose it is and delegate appropiately.

  72. Dave (Original)

    RE: “So what did everyone do before e-mail?”

    That would be the Big Bang right :)

  73. I was saved by the spamstopshere service. Not only do they have top technology, they’re a bunch of really nice guys. I’m impressed with them personally and even more impressed with the performance. I did an review/interview writeup for the newspaper here if you’re interested…

    http://www.sitecreations.com/articles/spam-filtering-success-finally.html

    Silly but true stats: 96% of incoming mail to my servers was spam…

    I also got my support requests under control with http://www.cerberusweb.com – it has a terrific mail flow system built-in. Lots of power for delegation and parser capabilities. It’s more than a ticket system.

  74. I am a dutchman, so all the important mail to me is in Dutch. English mail is 99% of the time spam. I just don’t read it….It is the best filter I know of :-)

  75. Now I’m understanding more about Matt because most humans HATE meetings as you can never get anything done, like answering your email, because of all the damn meetings.

    Matt, on the other hand, appears to be a social butterfly that LOVES those meetings :)

    Regarding email, just sort them into 3 piles:
    1 – Must REPLY
    2 – Should REPLY
    3 – Auto REPLY

    Start with the auto reply batch of email and just send them the same cut n paste reply, get them out of the way quick.

    Then, take typing lessons so you can bang out the MUST REPLIES at 120WPM.

    Last, but not least, leave the SHOULD REPLIES sit for a while and if they ping you again they’re serious about an answer and your SHOULD REPLY!

    These tips are free. For more information order my time management CD “Escape from E-Mail Hell” for $9.99 as seen on TV and not sold in any store.

  76. Bill,

    The purpose of a meeting isn’t to get something accomplished. It’s simply to give the illusion of getting something accomplished by discussing things that could be getting accomplished in less time than it would take to do them in the first place.

    Dammit, man, where’s your corporate BS sense?

  77. Katja

    I read often in comments here to delegate the emails. This is where the email hell starts. Hmmm I have so many things to do, to whom I can delegate this job I don´t like and the cycle starts. I hate it when people burry important message in long and boring emails and ask you later haven´t you read my email. Only chance is to answer as fast and short as possible. I know companies having a email free friday. They know why.

  78. Adam, I was overloaded with corporate BS when I worked at Lotus as there was actually a layer of people we called “Human Speed Bumps” who’s only purpose in life was to schedule and attend meetings. The only way they could measure success was if, at the end of the meeting, they had scheduled yet another meeting.

  79. Now that is progress. Recursive meetings…it’s like those Russian dolls where every time you break it open, there’s another doll to break open inside (I forget what they’re called.)

  80. Funny because I was just talking with someone last night about why I really don’t need email. The spam getting through the spam filters is numbering into the hundreds per day now. Because of this annoyance, I end up checking email once every 3 or 4 days as it is.

    So why *do* I really need email? The way I use it now, postal mail is faster… and more importantly, anyone important has my IM address.

    I still haven’t talked myself into deleting my email account altogether, but it’s a road I’m contemplating.

    “What’s your email?” … “Uh, I don’t have an email.” … “Okay seriously… what’s your email?” … “Seriously, I don’t have email.”

  81. For you people suffering with bad spam filters, try SpamArrest.com.

    I used it in it’s infancy, it was amazing, but they were having growing pains and the service was too slow at that time, I suspect it’s a lot quicker now.

  82. I remember reading an Interview with David Allen about this subject.
    He gave the most interesting answer when asking the same question.

    “If it’s cutting down productive time, scrap it”

    I wouldn’t go this far, but maybe why do most of us in the industry simply feel the need to reply to every email? Email is information, it doesn0t always require reciprocacity, does it? :D

  83. e_mail may be one of the best ways for personal contact, next to its facilitators the www internet and our standard computers – but natural voice based communications, interactively, or just audio-visual presentations, are better for content and comprehension of content in intellectual terms of human logic and preferences.

    Thank-god Google has mustered the “Search” capabilities in ascii and numerical logic – but NATURAL LOGIIC & NATURAL LANGUAGE are the way we have been expecting to interact with machines which are more then a smarter light-bulb and display, for application in most natural human intellectual and recreational communication.

    For more then 60 years we are using keyboards and hand click input – but for me it is worse to have to do it for so many years, as it slows the process of the wanted result which is your understanding, Google knows how fast we want results, but for me it is mostly because I had invented the EchoLogical Machine, The Computer we have been expecting that Apple or Microsoft have not yet delivered while charging for the same basic tools they traditionally supply and not delivering the software on hardware designed for Human Machine natural interactive interchange and exchange and processing plus comprehension and wisdom from intercultural translations – capabilities no ascii machine can deliver – and they are so ignorant by ignoring my positive gift and acting by greed and motivation to survive where I offer them a way to win win win by actually delivering successfully and serving the markets better as expected.
    I trust Google, as it is a company with the long term winning way, and I hope they get to grow and survive by helping me help all of us get the long longed for Intelligent Information Technologies – the next generation of wise machines which are multi – lingual and have a natural-human–logic-code syntexting capabilities for operating in a wireless-way by personal voiceprint instructions of any of the billions of users voices and any of the hundreds from thousands of languages people use all in a more advanced yet familiar way of writing as I am doing in ascii as you must do – hoping I can simply say and have it translated to selected languages and posted by the good old invention of E_MAIL probably the second most important business-tool next to the www internet – linking us and helping us find the few and many we like to address or share the best that life has to offer you can not buy or find after the first most valued gift of life – resulted from the love between your parents to celebrate our so-good and gracious and most patient God Alohimself.
    Shalom Shalem Mushlam to us all, and may its blessing for the www internet come to life with the help of Matt and many others in academics and business.

  84. simplicity sais it all.. keep e-mails being automatically sorted and you will be fine (or higher a secretary or two… :)

    Martin

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