I like getting emails. It makes me feel like I’ve created some sort of activity within my life. People trying to sell me stuff. People wanting to buy stuff. People just trying to communicate with me. Email is about 10x more important to me than text messages which I have to guess is the exact inverse of our youth culture.
That being said, I don’t fuck around with my email. I have two accounts set up, one that gets all my spam and that I sign up for shit with and one that is all business and used for people who I want to contact me. My phone receives all the mail which I’m always checking away from work, but I rely on Microsoft Outlook for all interaction. Only when I really, really need to have a timely response will I use my phone. So how do I use Outlook?
Every single piece of mail gets read so that it becomes unread. No strays. I will shift+delete all mail that I view as trash and never want to see again. This permanently deletes it. Any emails that need responses get responded to in brief sentences because this inbox rarely gets anything very important. If there is an email that is important to this email, there’s a possibility I will forget about it. For example, I received an email that invited me to a golf outing at 3pm on Sunday. I want to play but I also have an unknown tee time earlier in the day that makes it impossible to commit. This would be a rare email that I just can’t respond to and would possibly forget. This is a rarity.
I treat the primary email differently because it’s impossible to respond to each email immediately. I’ll scan through the emails and print out any emails that I know I need to return to. This leaves a hard copy on my desk that won’t get forgotten. All other emails get read and the same shift+delete gets used so my trash can is always empty. The idea of looking through deleted items would drive me crazy. Every email gets responded to at some point or another and I’ll even take a few minutes when I feel caught up to go back and make sure I didn’t leave any over the previous few days. There is never a time when my inbox has a number next to it.
How do you use your email? (I took these from another site that I’m too lazy to list)
This is the person who sees a message in his inbox and takes action immediately. As in, he reads the email, sends a response if it calls for one, and then either deletes it (because it’s no longer useful) or archives it in a specific folder. His email count typically hovers around zero.
The saver has few unread emails in her inbox, but rarely deletes a message after she reads it. Essentially, saving emails is a way of deluding themselves into thinking they’ll get around to addressing them all.
Keeping hundreds or thousands of unread emails in your inbox isn’t necessarily a problematic behavior. On the one hand leaving emails unread can signify that you’re overwhelmed or disengaged. On the other hand, “it can also mean that you recognize that [monitoring and organizing those emails] isn’t helping you achieve progress. And that’s a sign of intelligence.” Some email ignorers might actually be more organized and productive than everyone else. After all, Friedman says, “email reflects other people’s priorities for you, not necessarily important work that requires your immediate attention.”