Trying to stem the tide?

I suppose this is at least in part a monster of my own making.

Generally I like email as a form of communication.  I like the asynchronous nature and that I can control when I respond to whom.  I like that I can (generally) be the one to prioritize the urgency of something that is sent.  I mostly love not having to talk on the phone unless it’s a planned conversation (yes, I really don’t like the phone as a mode of communication unless it’s really urgent or we planned to talk).  Some of this may be reflective of a couple of features of introversion:  wanting my space to be just that, and wanting time to process information carefully before responding to it.

This morning, however, my email inbox pushed me up to the brink- and almost over it.  50 emails before 10 am.  Let me reiterate.  Fifty.  Before 10 am.  A handful were necessary, yes, but many from abuse of the “reply all” function in a number of conversations (no, we don’t all need to know that the meeting  scheduled based upon a Doodle poll at a specific date and time isn’t good for you).  Some were a series of rapid-fire questions that if the authors of said questions had thought before they sent could have been consolidated into one or two emails instead of 10.  Quite a few were simply because the EBRS list-serv was busy with discussion of the April article today, though again- why can’t these be sent as a digest format at the end of the day?

Needless to say, I was frustrated.  I dug into resources I have saved every time I have begun to suspect that I’m not managing my email “right.”  The recent set of tips I saw in the HBR struck me as…well, utterly unhelpful, to be honest.  Fortunately, a follow-up HBR blogpost (written my someone who a couple of years ago had a near-decompensation like mine today and blogged about it) gave me some better ideas.  I’ve installed SaneBox as of 1130 this morning, I’m training it, and I promise to let you all know if it is actually effective in making the deluge more manageable.  (Note:  If you have SaneBox experience/ tips, please share!)

So, yes, email.  It’s necessary.  It is my preferred mode of communication.  We all, myself included, need to be thoughtful about how we manage it.  I’m thinking more from a framework of, “Is this message completely necessary?” than I have before, and I could get used to this!