My latest Salon article is “Empty thine inbox” — a piece about e-mail overload hitched to reviews of three current books: “Send,” an e-mail etiquette guide by David Shipley and Will Schwalbe; Mark Hurst’s “Bit Literacy,” which outlines a methodology for personal-information management; and Mark Frauenfelder’s “Rule the Web,” a treasury of tips and tricks for taking control of, and enjoying, one’s online life.
The piece takes a brave stand against the injunction to maintain strict inbox hygiene:
My inbox is not a desk that must be cleared. It is a river from which I can always easily fish whatever needs my attention. Why try to push the river? Computer storage is cheaper than my time; archiving is easier than deleting… Do we really want the job of in-box attendant and e-mail folder file clerk? The mess is Augean scale, the job Sisyphean futile.
One other angle on this subject that I did not work into the article comes from Ducky Sherwood, who wrote books on how to handle e-mail burdens some years ago (and who also has a great resource page on all things email):
I’m a bit bothered by an implicit characterization that “email is the problem.” This isn’t fair to the medium. Your problem is that lots of people give you stuff to do. (“Read my message” falls into the category of “stuff to do”.) People have been overwhelmed by the amount of stuff that other people give them to do since long before email.
[tags]productivity, email, gtd, pims, personal information management[/tags]
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