I spent a few icky hours this weekend going through my email in-box, trying to sort through all the stuff that came in since early 2006 that I never dealt with.
Yikes! It’s embarrassing how many emails just fell through the cracks and I never responded to. In my defense, I do answer 98% or 99% of my email quickly. But I get an enormous amount–hundreds per day, if you count all the separate emails in the digests of the numerous email loops I subscribe to.
What goes wrong sometimes is that somebody will email me with a request that takes more than a minute or two to answer. So I move on to the next one, fully intending to answer it later “when I have more time”. Often, I do get back to it.
But sometimes, I don’t. What happens is that more email comes in, and the one I intended to answer drifts up past the top of my in-box.
When that happens, it’s trouble, because if it’s out of sight, it’s out of my mind, probably forever. As I sorted through the email from the last 18 months, I came across any number of old requests that I had lost track of. A lot of people must think I’m too snooty to answer my email.
I’m embarrassed. But I’m also human.
My goal is to get better at dealing with email this year. One way to deal with the problem I described above is that I’ve created another email folder labeled “Answer Today”. My plan is to never leave email in my in-box. As it comes in, I’ll either deal with it immediately or move it to the “Answer Today” folder. Then when the daily work is over, I can get to those things and answer them. Hopefully today. So nothing should get lost in a bulging in-box with thousands of items in it.
That’s the theory anyway. I’ll let you know how it works.
That raises a question for you all. What tricks do you use to tame the email monster? How do you handle the flood?