Sunday, June 13, 2010

I'm sorry but i probably didn't read your email

I suspect that young adults of today have already moved on from email to more immediate forms of communication but it is still an important tool in most work scenarios. It is with some regret then that I must finally concede that the general volume of Spam / CCed email across multiple accounts and on multiple computers has risen to the point where I can no longer guarantee to read every email that is sent to me. I make some attempt at triage when the daily flood comes in and I do endeavour to read and reply to those emails that look important or even just interesting but many mails will never be opened even if they have made it past multiple layers of spam filter.

Email has become a very low grade form of communication. I may read emails sent to me or I may not. If there is something that you absolutely need me to read  then you will have to use a different form of communication, sorry. I have been implementing this policy for about a year now and it has caused me surprisingly few problems. Yes I have missed a meeting or two but truth be told I am not sorry to have missed them.

Perhaps I still feel some mild twinge of guilt at the number of unread emails sitting in my inbox but I am thinking of even bypassing this step by automatically flagging all emails as read. I am one who used take pride at keeping my inbox empty and all old emails filed away in carefully named folders. The advent of labels has replaced folders for me and I only bother to label an email if i) I have actually read it and ii) I think I may need to find it later. For the most part if I really need to find an email later I find that searching by the senders name is usually the quickest way to find it.

Small historical footnote - I once wrote a research thesis one of the main findings of which was that use of email was a good indicator of a company being at the forefront of technology.

Non Historical Footnote: I am still searching for a satisfactory way of keeping up with email when using multiple computers. A web email account seems like one solution and I am experimenting with gmail for that purpose but so far I find the interface loathsome. Perhaps it has hidden depths I have yet to find but it seems ridiculously inflexible to me so far.


Stabs said...

Sounds to me like it's time to bite the bullet, make a new account, email everyone who matters the new address and stop reading the old one.

Keep it live though, that way you can use it as a dumping ground email to give out when you join a MMO guild that uses free website software or a Korean free to play game that you'll play for an hour but be told about for life.

mbp said...

Good advice Stabs but I am already ahead of you. I actually have my own paid for email server that allows me to create and delete email addresses at will. Whenever I want to sign up for I create a new email alias specifically for that.

Spam is no longer really the problem. The number of "legitimate" emails I get every day now exceeds my capacity to read them. Part of the problem stems from working for a large organisation where there are way too many mailing lists and everyone seems to cc everything to everyone else.

Choosing not to read every email sent to me is part of my own private rebellion.