During this week’s Inside PR (yet to be posted), Joe Thornley, Martin Waxman, and I discuss the ever-looming inbox.
You see, I’m a “get it cleaned out every day” kind of person. Having unopened, unread, or unanswered emails makes me nuts.
Mr. D makes fun of me. He says no one else in the whole world uses email the way I do. Sure, I’ll admit I’m a little OCD about it.
But email is a problem. For all of us.
Fred Wilson, a venture capitalist in New York City, wrote a blog post last week titled, “The Black Hole of Email.” In it he laments how he spends about three hours every day on email.
I have never ever been so behind on email as I am right now. I believe I am seeing about one third of all email that is sent to me. I write these posts occasionally to let people know. The result is hundreds of comments about how I can make email work better for me. Please don’t leave those comments. I don’t want to make email work better for me. I don’t want to hire an assistant to do email for me. I don’t want to try some new magical app that will make email better for me.
I give email an hour in the morning, an hour in the evening, and I dive into it throughout the day. The result is probably three hours a day in total. That’s all I’m going to give email. And it is not enough to manage the inbound flow.
Curious, I looked at my timesheet for the past month to see how much time I’m spending on email every day. It’s about two hours every day, but that doesn’t count the emails I quickly answer throughout the day. If I had to guess, it’d be close to the three hours Fred spends.
It’s a topic of conversation during every one of our staff meetings. My inbox is getting unwieldy and I don’t want to be a bottleneck for my team, especially while I’m on the road.
Sometimes there are quick questions that can be answered via text or one of the social networks. But other times there are strategic reviews or approvals that cannot be delegated. And all of that comes via email.
But what is really interesting about this exercise, and what Joe, Martin, and I discuss during the podcast, is not one person manages email the same.
For instance, I prefer one email at the end of every day that includes everything my colleagues need from me. Other members of my team prefer an email for every, little thing so they can save and file appropriately.
It’s definitely not a one size fits all approach. But it’s an issue for every, single one of us that no amount of organization will help. Heck, I have Patti Knight, who sorts through things, and it’s still out of control.
I wish I had a magical answer on how to control it. I don’t. Which is why it’s a topic in every one of our staff meetings.
But I do now know not everyone manages it the same. Because of that, it’s important to consider how your colleagues, peers, and friends manage their inboxes…and be considerate. Just because it’s easy to send an email doesn’t always mean you should.
Also please, for the love all of things good, stop using the reply all button.