Why Some People Need an Email Intervention

November 9, 2011 — Leave a comment

I have an old friend who has always had trouble keeping up with his email.  Let’s call him FooBar. FooBar get’s a **lot** of email. And it was his email woes, in addition to that of other friends, that caused me to create http://sanebox.com.

No I’m not going to mention FooBar by name.  He is a good guy with this one little foible: he thinks every single email might be crucial to his life.

To understand this story you have to know that SaneBox makes decisions about what is “important” email and what is “unimportant” email.  This is a GTD type decision based on what needs your attention right now versus what can wait.  And SaneBox has layers of importance so we distinguish things that can wait a little with things that can wait a longer while.

SaneBox moves the “unimportant” emails automatically out of your INBOX to your SaneLater folder.

FooBar can’t admit that focusing and keeping up with the important stuff is worth letting one email wait a couple of hours.  And this is The Problem.

SaneBox users are supposed to scan their “unimportant” email at least once a dayto make sure that a timely issue hasn’t slipped in there.  We can send a digest to your INBOX once or several times a day to make that triage easier. But, you still have to admit to yourself that it is OK if something out-of-the-blue from someone-you-have-no-real-connection-to comes in and waits a few hours until you have time to notice it.

I find that the everything-is-important people are often the leave-email-in-their-INBOX people. They use the read flag to indicate that they already triaged that particular email. THIS IS CRAZY and will lead to email INSANITY. Touch your email as few times as possible.  If you’ve opened it and you can deal with it, deal with it (read,forward,reply and then defer,delete,archive,file).  GET IT OUT OF YOUR INBOX!

There is the occasional email that will take more time than you have now. SaneBox has defer folders for this. You put the email in one of our defer folders and it disappears from your INBOX until the time you have specified.  Whenever you read an email and leave it in your INBOX it forces you to scroll passed it every single time you look in your INBOX.  And let’s be honest you look there A LOT.

So, this is a public plee to my email challenged friends and all those out there that areeverything-is-important people (especially FooBar). Please acknowledge that you are only human and some things deserve your attention right now and some things don’t.  Go sign up for http://SaneBox.com.

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