Thursday, September 06, 2007

Inbox zero, five sentences, and email bankruptcy

I just watched Merlin Mann's "Inbox Zero" video on the bus today, and am dedicating myself to incorporating this into my daily life over the next week or so (the part about ignoring my email and getting work done is easy; processing my inbox is harder). I'm especially intrigued by two enhancements to this: five sentences and email bankruptcy:

five sentences
Brought to us by Mike Davidson, this is a nice way to get people used to received brief replies without being offended: put the Q&A with web link in your signature. For what it's worth, Guy Kawasaki has opined that five sentences is the optimal length for emails.
email bankruptcy
This is another way to say, "Face reality, you're never going to do anything about the thousand emails in your inbox." Just send out a blanket email: a global reset of all of your email communications. Tell them that they shouldn't wait for replies to anything they've sent to you in the past, and to resend anything that is urgent. Lawrence Lessig has done it. So have others.
Of course, this begs the real question. As Merlin points out, email isn't either problem or the solution, but it can serve as the canary in the coal mine. The fact that so many of us are hopelessly behind is symptomatic of a fundamental underlying problem in our workflow that we need to address. In this way, email bankruptcy is just like the financial kind.

1 comment:

  1. Email zero and GTD really changed my life. Whether it is true or not, I feel significantly more productive lately.