You have no new messages

If you’re New Years resolution includes “less inbox”, you should check out this great presentation from Merlin Mann:

Inbox Zero: (slides)

Getting your inbox under control is bloody hard and keeping on top of it is a constant battle.

Compared to the alternative, though, it’s worth the effort.

And it doesn’t necessarily mean spending your whole day on email.

In fact, the opposite…

One small tip which made a big difference for me was changing my email settings to only check for new messages every 15 minutes, and then later every hour.

Unlike some other changes which require you to turn your life upside down, this is completely easy to do right now (go on … I’ll wait here until you’re done).

Think of it as a way to slowly wean yourself off a dangerous addiction.

It’s interesting since I did this how often somebody will come to my desk or phone before I’ve actually cleared their message and say something like “I just sent you an email …”. Why? Just checking that I got it I suppose? Or, perhaps they are anxious that I haven’t responded yet.

When all you do all day is hang out with other crack addicts then it doesn’t seem so dangerous to take it yourself, I guess?

None of this is especially new. There are lots of good inbox management ideas out there. But, which ones are you actually using every day?

4 thoughts on “You have no new messages”

  1. I don’t get a whole lot of urgent mail on a daily basis, so I generally check my inbox when I get to work then turn off my mail client. I’ll check it again around lunch time and about an hour before I leave.

    We use IM a lot at work so if there is anything that has to be read right now it’s fairly easy for people to ping me an IM and let me know.

  2. I agree with the philosophy – a great way to take back your life. However some environments require you to respond fast to changing events, so it does depend.

    At home I set my email checking to manual. I started doing this a few years back after being in too many open WiFi networks. I found that not seeing email until I click “Get Mail” was time-liberating.

    Another benefit of your 15 minute checking is that, if you have it set up that way, the emails you send only get posted every 15 minutes, giving a second chance at editing.

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