Merlin Mann's Inbox Zero series (warning: a few coarse words are used) gently leads you through a process to achieve that most desirable number next to your Inbox message count: ZERO. Part of the most excellent 43 Folders site, the Inbox Zero bookmark has been staring me in the face for months, but I haven't brought myself to actually read it until now. (The first step of solving my email problem is admitting I have a problem....)
As someone who receives hundreds of messages a day, and who has 222 messages currently in his Inbox -- all of which have been left in there because I feel I need to do something with them -- I need email help. So I'm working through the Inbox Zero series, trying to change my habits.
From the second article in the series, Articles of faith:
Less can be so much more
I used to think one-line email responses were the height of rudeness. If someone took the time to type me a 20-paragraph email, I always felt I had to respond in kind. It's like that horrible feeling at the holiday gift exchange when you realize that the present you brought cost a tenth of what your colleague spent. Well, get over it, because it ain't the same thing.
In an environment where attention is the economic equivalent of cash, you aren't doing people any favors by sending gothic novels. And taking your cues for etiquette, propriety, and efficiency on a message-by-message basis will quickly land you in a very bouncy room with a fresh box of crayons.
I'll report back in a few weeks. Care to join me on a journey to Inbox Zero?