Right now, I have over 430 emails that I have not read. Truth be told, most of those are either spam or subscriptions that have lost my interest. I try to delete every email I have decided I won’t read, but I don’t delete emails from co-workers or clients (CYA policy). So, I do have thousands of “read” emails… as you can imagine, I rely on the search function quite extensively.
Last month, venture capitalist Fred Wilson drew a lot of attention on the Internet when he declared a 21st century kind of bankruptcy. In a posting on his blog about technology, Wilson announced he was giving up on responding to all the e-mail piled up in his inbox.
“I am so far behind on e-mail that I am declaring bankruptcy,” he wrote. “If you’ve sent me an e-mail (and you aren’t my wife, partner, or colleague), you might want to send it again. I am starting over.”
College professors have done the same thing, and a Silicon Valley chief executive followed Wilson’s example the next day. Last September, the recording artist Moby sent an e-mail to all the contacts in his inbox announcing that he was taking a break from e-mail for the rest of the year.
I can relate to this statement.
E-mail overload gives many workers the sense that their work is never done, said senior analyst David Ferris, whose firm, Ferris Research, said there were 6 trillion business e-mails sent in 2006. “A lot of people like the feeling that they have everything done at the end of the day,” he said. “They can’t have it anymore.”
I don’t think there is much I can do about the volume of emails I get — its the nature of my chosen field. But, I have learned to control my subscriptions, use junk-accounts for various online activities, and keep personal and work related accounts more separate. Also, I am using RSS aggregator a lot more to consume online content. Like all things in life, it takes intentional effort to make sure my inbox doesn’t get cluttered and flooded by junk.