Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Six Ways to Deal with the E-Mail Deluge

words You've Got Mail with picture of mailbox

Feeling overwhelmed by your e-mail? Join the crowd - and read about ways that other people are coping.

1. Advice from Julie Morgenstern and many more, including Gina Trapani: Wait an hour before checking your e-mail in the morning; pick one task to accomplish before reading e-mail.

B.L Ochman also follows this advice - and has taken more steps to manage 700+ e-mail messages a day.

2. Advice from Merlin Mann: Delete, delete, delete. "Do you keep emails in your inbox for weeks or months even though you know in your heart of hearts that you have no intention of ever responding to them?"

3. Advice from Mike Davidson: Limit e-mail replies to five sentences.

4. Encourage people to stop sending you jokes and such. Tell them, "Thanks. No."

5. If things have gotten really out of control, declare e-mail bankruptcy. Lawrence Lessig declared his e-mail bankruptcy in 2004, and others have done the same, declaring that they simply will never be able to reply to their backlog of messages.

6. In response, others have written guidelines for processing e-mail so you can avoid e-mail bankruptcy.

[Illustration from You've Got Mail web site]


Ariane Benefit, Neat & Simple Living said...

I LOVE IT!!!! Awesome post...I have been fantasizing about giving up on blogging and email for some time now...thanks for showing me I'm not alone!

Jeri Dansky said...

Ariane, you'd be alone if e-mail and blogs were NOT an issue! I think all of us with active on-line lives need to continually re-evaluate and improve how we deal with it all.

Matthew Cornell said...

Thanks for the helpful tips. Ironically, "Tell them, "Thanks. No."" is a great tip, and so is "Stop sending 'thank you' emails" (that is, emails whose content is *only* one or two words). I've found that I need for the other person to *know* that I'm doing it this way. Ditto for my 24 max response times. Clear expectations are such a good idea!

Jeri Dansky said...

Matthew, that's a great point about clear expectations. That's especially crucial if you're scaling back in any way - checking and responding to e-mail less often, for example.

Opinions seem to vary when it comes to the advisability of "thank you" e-mails. Again, communication is critical so no one feels slighted - and no one gets a bunch of unwanted e-mail.