Thursday, February 09, 2012

The Email Conundrum

Cover of "Groundhog Day/Ghostbusters/Stri...Cover of Groundhog Day/Ghostbusters/StripesFred Wilson: The Black Hole Of Email
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.
I don't have this problem. Usually when I am online I treat emails like they were text messages. I read and reply immediately. Saves me time. Short replies are not considered rude since I was polite enough to reply immediately. If I read an email but do not, can not reply immediately I use the Mark It As Unread feature to come to it later. I mean, Gmail is so central to my work, when I am emailing, I am working. My tech consulting team is global and email is absolutely the best way to keep moving. I look forward to the emails.

But then I don't read half the emails I get. You see who or what (usually what) sent it, you read the subject line and you realize they are not even worth deleting. Deleting would cost time. Instead I might mass delete in a few months. Mass deleting emails is fun. It is amazing how emails lose value over time. (Inbox Zero)

But I am nowhere close to Fred Wilson's scale. My question to Fred is, how big is your Inbox? Granted you don't read more than three out of 10 emails you get, but is your Inbox 99% full? Have you paid for a petabyte of Gmail space? Did Zynga go IPO?

That is not to say the Inbox is not a serious innovation territory. But the ultimate barrier there is human. You could end up with the best filters and still end up with too much email. I mean, if you have only three hours a day for email, there are only so many emails you can read. So you better have a great ultimate filter for people whose emails you don't want to miss.

I already have those filters. I use several platforms. If you are a stranger who just wants to say hello, send a tweet. That is the best way. If you know me well, send a Facebook email.

I don't even use the Priority Inbox. I guess I don't have an email problem. Not yet.

Reimagining The Inbox The Simple Way
Adam Smith And The Inbox Space
The Inbox: Like Search Before Google
The Inbox Could See New Life This Year
2010: Location, Random Connections, The Inbox, Frictionless Payments
The Search Results, The Links, The Inbox, The Stream
My Gmail Prayers Heard: Multiple Inboxes

Who you gonna call?

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