MANAGING YOUR E-MAIL
We isolated a group of e-mailers, about 20 percent of all work e-mailers, we called “power users.” Among other things, power users sent and received significantly more e-mail than average users. Most power users manage their e-mail better than average users, they value their e-mail more highly, they use their e-mail in many more ways, and they are more likely to say that e-mail saves them time. But even among power users, there are hopeless cases, those who let their e-mail pile up, untended, in their inboxes.
– DEBORAH FALLOWS, SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW
PEW INTERNET AND AMERICAN LIFE PROJECT
Most of us would agree that e-mail has made enormous changes in the way we work. Whether it makes us more productive is still an open question. Reading, responding to, and managing e-mail can consume vast amounts of our valuable time, and we don't always use that time as well as we could.
Even those of us who approach our work systematically tend to approach e-mail in a completely unstructured way. We check incoming messages too often. We interrupt other activities to open new mail as soon as it arrives. We ignore the increasing volume of mail in our inbox, promising ourselves to take care of it “one of these days.” We do things in the wrong order, waste time responding when no response is needed, and lose important messages in folders we never bother to clean out, like overstuffed cabinets crammed with junk we can't seem to organize or throw away.
Managing your e-mail isn't difficult, but it does take some thought and attention. In this chapter, you'll find a tool kit of tips that will help you manage your e-mail, instead of letting it manage you.