Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Managing Me-Mail
Phew! After 11 days vacation in New Mexico and a long weekend for Memorial Day, I had more than 3,000 emails waiting for me in my in box. Because I had guesstimated 4,000 in a conversation last week with Ryan and Simone, I was actually quite pleased that the count was so "low."

Thing is, I just now finished catching up on those 3,000 messages. Almost a week after I returned from vacation. So Mark Hurst's recent report, "Managing E-Mail: What Every User Needs to Know, hit me especially hard. I read it in my hotel room over the weekend in Sonoma County for Roy and Amy's wedding, and it's extremely useful. Mark says that email management is not about server-side filtering of spam. It's not about unsubscribing from all of the mailing lists you belong to.

It's about keeping your in box at zero messages. That's right: Zero messages.

Right now, having just caught up on my emails while away, my in box stands at just more than 600 messages, the oldest of which dates back to February. (Ashamedly, my personal in box dates back to January 2000 with 475 messages.) So I'm going to start following Mark's advice to keep my in box clean. Among his recommendations:

  • Concentrate on lessening overall persistent message count, not daily email volume. (Keep your in box empty.)
  • Delete all spam.
  • Handle personal emails before work-related emails.
  • Act immediately on work-related emails: Read, file, add to your to-do list, and delete.
  • Schedule when you do email.
  • Never reply to spam.
  • Filter incoming spam conservatively. (He offers several solid filtering tactics I've already begun to employ.)

    Mark says all of that better than I have -- and at greater length -- and I heartily recommend that you download the report. I also encourage you to chip in with the $10 honor-system donation Mark asks for. The tool's well worth the $10. I just sent him some money via PayPal.
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