Day 23,709: The Black Hole of Emails.

E-mail haunts me.  I’m obsessed with watching the numbers in my inbox to monitor how out of control I am at all times. And it’s not for lack of managing it, except that it’s obviously for the lack of managing it.

At home, my combined inbox that aggregates mail from several different accounts, always hovers between 1-2,000 messages!  I’m currently at 1,620.

At work, my solitary inbox always hovers over 11,000 after only 4 years on the job!  It’s the most ridiculous business email inbox I’ve ever had. I get hundreds of emails a day and delete hundreds. I obviously don’t delete the same amount that come in, hence I struggle to keep my inbox at the 11K mark.

I file. I unsubscribe. I delete. I mass delete by sender and date. For instance, each day I go back a year and delete the prior messages from exactly 365 days ago, and yet I never get ahead.  It’s because I open the emails. Sometimes it helps me realize I’ve forgotten to start a perennial project. Sometimes, I just file the attachment that I should have filed a year earlier. It’s past inefficiencies coming home to roost.

The most annoying is finding emails from months ago when the only message was “Thanks.”  People feel the need to be polite and send messages with no message, just adding to the quantity stuffing my email box.

I had, in the past, asked people to stop those type of messages, but since moving to South Jersey just accept them. People like to be polite, and I need to have the patience to see the message and the discipline to delete faster than I might otherwise. Instead, with message preview, I glance at the sentiment and immediately move on to another message requiring more immediate attention, hence adding to the count of untended, undeleted messages. Perhaps I should turn Preview off, but it is what allows me to triage.

Ghosts of Emails Past

Email is worst at my current job than any job previously. I’ve often wondered why and have come up with three possibilities: 1. Everyone emails more 2. This job spans multiple locations and people can’t get up and just walk over to talk. They are miles away and can only either pick up the phone, or email. Email is generally faster. 3. Policy. The company accepts the massive memory drain. In a prior company, we were held to 2,500 messages before the email service would hang and not allow you to send any additional mail until you purged your inbox. It was an annoyance, but it worked. We all cleaned more often, but also sometimes slowed on a time-sensitive project because we had to attend to email.

At each job that I’ve left, on the day I’ve left I’ve mass deleted usually 2,000 emails. I wouldn’t have rights to the box within minutes and there was no way to sensibly go through the pile, so a mass delete was the only option. I’ve never missed those deletes, and they’ve never haunted me, so the obvious question is why did I have them all the way up to the last day of work?

Today, due to weather conditions, I have a day off from work. I’m dedicating part of it to deleting emails at home. It’s not a quick task. I get many emails because I’m interested in many things. My stuffed box is not due to too much junk, but rather is a representation of too many interests for too little time.

The Jewel Discovered

I just opened an email from MarieTV. It took a half hour to listen to a wonderful interview with Give WorkjpgLeila Janah, whose new book is Give Work and new skin care line is LXMI (pronounced Lux-Me).  I’m already familiar with Janah’s work, and it was not a half hour wasted. She is an amazing force in our world. I recommend everyone find interviews with her and listen. But, if each email takes a half hour (and they don’t), it can take hours to parse my inbox down to a manageable size.

I’m open to suggestions. And, I’m choosing to reframe my email problem as an opportunity – to learn new things, be introduced to new innovators, and stay in touch with old friends. The latter is the most important and never represents the glut. So perhaps I’m prioritizing well, just not fast enough.

This is what I don’t want. An epitaph on a tombstone – “She died with a million unopened emails.” My kids wouldn’t want that either, although I suspect they would be more vicious in just deleting everything when the time came, just as I do on the last day of a job.  The problem occurs because this isn’t my last day and there’s always the hope of what wisdom may be in the unopened email when I get to it tomorrow. Except we all know, I won’t.

P.S. You can sign up to get email notifications every time I publish but just going directly on site and clicking the follow button.  I know this makes me an enabler, and I shouldn’t be encouraging you since auto notifications are part of my own quantity issue, but without them I would forget to check on some of my own favorite sites.  So just sayin’.


Focus on Gun Sanity: Gun Control Laws Work. The new Majory Stoneham Douglas Public Safety Act, just enacted into law in Florida has already allowed Broward County law enforcement to stop the 18-year old younger brother of serial killer Nikolas Cruz from obtaining arms of his own. He’s also been detained as part of the new Red Flag portion of the law after trespassing on school property multiple times.