Email Is Not My Job

Posted by Connie Reece on September 9, 2020 at 3:19 pm

I paid $47 for the title of this blog post, and it was money well spent.

No, I did not hire a copywriter. I followed the recommendation of Chris Brogan and bought Stever Robbins’ audio series called You Are Not Your Inbox: Overcoming Email Overload. On the way to and from San Antonio for their inaugural BarCamp and the launch of Social Media Club San Antonio, I listened to all three CDs and took the advice to heart.

One of the principles that really stuck with me is that email is not my job. In other words, all the time I spend answering email is not necessarily accomplishing any business objectives. “In fact,” Robbins says, “if you spend just 30 minutes daily reading or responding to unnecessary email, that adds up to a full 3 weeks wasted over the course of the year. That’s more time than most Americans get for vacation.”

Wow! I haven’t taken a full week’s vacation in five years, so the thought that I could be wasting three entire weeks on unnecessary email was a real eye-opener. You Are Not Your Inbox helped me see that it was humanly impossible to process all the email I get, even after deleting spam and filtering bacn.

No technology can solve this email overload. The only solution is to be very disciplined when it comes to processing email and deciding which messages get a response and which ones just aren’t going to get answered. In addition to examining the way I process mail, I need to look at my sending habits so I don’t contribute to the overall problem.

Everyone I know is straining under the extra weight of a bloated inbox. What are some of the ways you’re dealing with it?

Category: Social Media

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17 Comments

Comment by Elizabeth Naylor

Made September 9, 2020 at 4:26 pm

Thank you for this blog. I now feel less guilty for letting some emails sit there :) I follow you on twitter as well and always love to hear from you! Thank you for all the good insight! Keep up the great work!!

~Elizabeth Naylor
www.dwellgo.com

Comment by Connie Reece

Made September 9, 2020 at 4:39 pm

Elizabeth, thanks for the comment. It is hard to overcome the guilt, isn’t it? We feel obligated to respond to every email but have to recognize that at some point it becomes impossible.

Pingback by One Step to Maximize Your Email Productivity | The Marketing Technology Blog

Made September 9, 2020 at 7:13 pm

[…] Productivity Posted in Business, Email by Douglas Karr at 9:13 pm Connie has a great post today, Email Is Not My Job. Connie refers to Stephen’s site You Are Not Your Inbox. Chris Brogan even has some […]

Comment by Kara

Made September 9, 2020 at 7:21 pm

I know what you mean! It seems I have to constantly choose between staying afloat with my e-mail or getting ANYTHING else done…I think I might consider a policy like yours to check a certain number of times a day. I also need to do a massive UNSUBSCRIBE. I’m not sure about the signature just because to me I think it might make me seem less approachable or that I don’t want a reply. I do but I just don’t want to be obligated to Rereply if it’s not mandatory.

Comment by Connie Reece

Made September 9, 2020 at 8:03 pm

Kara, here’s how I worded my e-mail signature:

“Note: I have put my bloated inbox on a Dr. Pepper diet: I only check for new emails at 10, 2 and 4. If you need an immediate response, go old-school and call me. Thanks for understanding.”

Of course, you have to be an official Old Fart like me to understand the Dr. Pepper reference. But I hope the wording will let people know that I’m not trying to avoid them, just trying to get a grip on the email glut.

Comment by Gavin Heaton

Made September 9, 2020 at 9:34 pm

I also turn off auto notifications from my blog and Facebook etc. It is amazing how many of these come through each day!

Comment by Beth Harte

Made September 10, 2020 at 7:05 am

Connie, great post. I am tied to my email (3 accounts!) and it’s too much these days. I’d like to unsubscribe, but then I feel like I am missing something (emails I had signed up for, not spam). So I scan the headlines and then delete. As well, RSS feeds into my email, so I battle that as well (there is just so much great reading to be had!). But ultimately, it’s the guilt of not providing a timely response. I think you are right about putting it on a timer, I will try that. I also liked Stever Robbins’ $5 technique. If I have to pay to put emails back into the In-box, you can be sure it won’t happen! ;-)

Comment by Connie Reece

Made September 10, 2020 at 9:43 am

Gavin, those auto notifications can quickly swamp the inbox. I either turn them off or filter them directly to another folder so they don’t hit my inbox. Then I check that folder periodically.

Beth, I would recommend you not direct the RSS feeds to your email. Even as few feeds as I follow now (<50 and it was at one time >250) there is no way I could handle that via email. I used Google Reader for a long time, and had an iGoogle start page with my feed reader and gmail on my home page. Now I use Netvibes the same way but it’s working better for me.

Comment by Tim (@Twalk) Walker

Made September 10, 2020 at 1:18 pm

Good for you, Connie, for getting a grip on this. Constant unproductive immersion in e-mail is one of the worst time-sucks of the modern working world.

Like you, I check e-mail inrequently through the day, and I route bacn to filtered mailboxes. I also unsubscribe to ANYTHING that I don’t read REGULARLY.

Beyond that, I’ve profited from Merlin Mann’s thoughts on Inbox Zero, and formulated many of my own thoughts in posts like this one.

Comment by Connie Reece

Made September 10, 2020 at 1:34 pm

Tim, thanks for the comment and the encouragement as well as the link to Merlin Mann’s Inbox Zero. Another great resource, and if I remember correctly, he has Gmail-specific tips.

Comment by Cherry

Made September 11, 2020 at 8:07 am

Connie, great post. You know, I’m afraid nobody reads all of the incoming emails these days. I’ve subscribed to a ton of great newsletters, but I have no time to look them through, while I would love to. This neverending mailflow kills me.

Worst is I can’t find the important messages at once This year’s Techcrunch nominees had some solutions to email overload, Otherinbox (http://blog.otherinbox.com/), for example, I think it might be great for handling bacn – it creates special addresses for each subscription and you can see at once if any of these are spammed.
Another project SenderOK (http://www.senderok.com) says it will handle the new emails by prioritizing important messages. They analyze connections between all their users to understand which sender is more important. The idea of socializing the inbox shines; but it seems very difficult to implement.

Comment by Beth Harte

Made September 11, 2020 at 9:01 am

Hi Connie, thanks for the Netvibes recommendation, I haven’t tried it, but will do so now! Part of me likes the RSS feeds right in Outlook because it’s a convenient place to read them (but, it’s not portable) after I am done scanning email.

I tried setting up Google Reader, but I am not keen on it. Perhaps I need to give it more time.

So many tools, so little time… Thanks again!

Comment by Connie Reece

Made September 11, 2020 at 9:41 am

Cherry, thanks for the links to additional resources. I’m a little skeptical about a technology that claims to prioritize email messages; sometimes senders who are very important to me send messages that are low priority. I think behavioral strategies on my part are what I need to focus on.

Beth, if you’re an Outlook fan you would probably like Google Reader if you had some help setting it up. It visually reminds me of Outlook with its folders. One of the things we are going to start teaching at our EDC workshops is how to set up a feed reader and use it — probably Google Reader since it’s such a popular one. Maybe we could do a plurkshop (http://plurkshopscom) on this topic.

Comment by Cherry

Made September 12, 2020 at 5:21 am

Connie,

I’ll try them as soon as they allow to download the software. Both programs are not for public use at the moment. Will let you know if some of them works out.

Comment by Connie Reece

Made September 12, 2020 at 6:43 am

Thanks, Cherry. I would appreciate the update. Sharing this kind of info is like a public service!

Comment by MizFIt

Made September 17, 2020 at 3:13 am

for me it was a huge gift when I realized this.
when I decided it was ok to READ emails and not respond immediately should they not ‘need’ that rightthatverymoment.

I file them in a folder and return to them later.

I do return (sigh) but it IMMEDIATELY prioritize.

M.

Comment by Sakib

Made November 2, 2020 at 6:41 am

Hay! Connie Reece, thank you so much.

I am trying to minimize to stay in email box. I actually forwarding all mails to one account but thing is that - I always use Gtalk. So, automatically I get notifications for every new mail and then I couldn’t resist myself to checkout my emails :(. I know to use IM also bad habit. What should I do? Any tips?

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