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Don’t Reply to Your Emails

By The Atlantic

The case for Inbox infinityRead full story

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  • No, getting a lot of email isn’t an excuse for not replying. It’s a small act of incivility.

    What’s next? “Sorry, I can’t say hi in the hallways anymore—there are just too many people trying to greet me.”

    Get organized. Engage on email. Show you care.

    And set boundaries. You don’t have to answer every

    No, getting a lot of email isn’t an excuse for not replying. It’s a small act of incivility.

    What’s next? “Sorry, I can’t say hi in the hallways anymore—there are just too many people trying to greet me.”

    Get organized. Engage on email. Show you care.

    And set boundaries. You don’t have to answer every email, especially if it’s a disrespectful note from a stranger. But in general, a brief reply is kinder than none at all.

  • Why is responding to email so complicated? It comes in and you either reply, ignore it or save it for later. I don’t know how I’d run my companies if I didn’t handle email this way. It’s just an email. Stop mystifying it so much.

  • As I mentioned in the article, getting to inbox zero probably isn’t the best use of time for many. Commitments to my family, friends, and team take priority first. :)

  • Millennials love Inbox Zero. It gives them the sense of accomplishment every time they reply to a mail.

    My solution: letting my inbox grow for a few days and let urgent ones follow up with me through phone. Should I have time to spare before the office day ends, I scan through my emails for any business-generating

    Millennials love Inbox Zero. It gives them the sense of accomplishment every time they reply to a mail.

    My solution: letting my inbox grow for a few days and let urgent ones follow up with me through phone. Should I have time to spare before the office day ends, I scan through my emails for any business-generating ones. I’ll deal with the rest if I’m bored waiting in the lobby of my clients.

    Also

    Turn off the popup email notification on your laptops/desktop

    Never save for later because it is straight up unproductive to comprehend emails repeatedly

  • Good tip. Here’s another don’t look at you email until a predetermined point at the day - 10am, 11am, whatever works. Otherwise your inbox is the first thing you look at in the morning and becomes your de facto to do list - just written by other people.

  • Other options like Slack help drive some of the back and forth of email into other more productive channels that you don’t have to read all of. Those tools are also better at looping in others so email isn’t a bottleneck. But what really is the value of a zero inbox if only to feel like “you did it?”

  • I wish this article discussed prioritized-inbox-zero, where emails from specific people gets down to zero. Every such email either gets a reply or is archived.

  • It's interesting how we've internalized email etiquette culture into some sort of representation of our professional character. Kudos to the always great Taylor Lorenz for offering a way out.

    One thing about Slack though - it guarantees that you'll only hear from people inside your organization. Email

    It's interesting how we've internalized email etiquette culture into some sort of representation of our professional character. Kudos to the always great Taylor Lorenz for offering a way out.

    One thing about Slack though - it guarantees that you'll only hear from people inside your organization. Email is a portal to the rest of the world, albeit filtered through other people's agendas.

  • Inbox Zero always felt impossible to me, reading this let me finally and conclusively scrap it as a goal.

  • My inbox is like the fable of the magic porridge that constantly overflows. I sometimes wonder who owns whom.

  • I wake up every morning and look at the number of emails each day and read some but stop at 100. I am too lazy or delusional to think one day I will get to the 15,000 in my inbox. My mind tells someday you will read those so do not mass delete while the practical side says look you have read 100 a day

    I wake up every morning and look at the number of emails each day and read some but stop at 100. I am too lazy or delusional to think one day I will get to the 15,000 in my inbox. My mind tells someday you will read those so do not mass delete while the practical side says look you have read 100 a day for what seems like forever so not much hope for the 15,000. I will often purge 500 in a day but we all know that is just barely making a dent. So when I die , if I die someone will have the sense to simply close my accounts.

  • Let me just say thank you.

    I don't keep up on my inbox but have made it a point to move all my newsletters/subscriptions out of my main mailbox and into the app Stoop.

    Helps my sanity to at least have the newsletters not mixing with the real deal emails.

  • 1. Get out of any thread that you’re not needed In.

    2. My the communication efficient.

    Keep your emails simple.

    Every word should be valuable.

    3. Block any address you get more than 3 consecutive emails from and you haven’t opened a week later. It’s obviously not a priority.

  • Best quote of the piece: “Molly Beck, the CEO of the podcast-software company Messy.fm, said she realized Inbox Zero would never work for her the day she achieved it. “I wanted to email my work BFF to tell her I finally did it [reached Inbox Zero],” Beck said. “But I was worried she would email me back.”

  • Everybody seems to have "the answer". Eff that. Communicating is a highly personal concept. I posit that depending upon your personality, age, role, use case, your "best" way to handle email will evolve to that which is best for you. It could change over time as new tools become available. This is what

    Everybody seems to have "the answer". Eff that. Communicating is a highly personal concept. I posit that depending upon your personality, age, role, use case, your "best" way to handle email will evolve to that which is best for you. It could change over time as new tools become available. This is what I've experienced & witnessed.

  • As the saying goes... "Email and love... The more you send out into the universe the more comes back to you..."

    One downside to consider of inbox infinity: search becomes your organization method... So make sure you have failsafe keywords or are not allergic to some search engine crawling all over your mail...

  • I have inbox infinity. I read, reply, search and filter, no filing. Catch-all with 85,699 unread, personal with 31,141 unread, work inbox with 33,085 unread. Also, when I read and am not ready to reply, I just mark as unread.

  • I had no idea I had been practicing email infinity (at least I didn’t realize it had an official name). People who see that I have 17,000 unread emails always seem gobsmacked that I can function like that. Glad to hear it’s actually good for my psyche and productivity.

  • Just like anything, if you don't manage it, it will manage you. I make a decision with each email if I need to unsubscribe or find all emails from that company/person and select-all/archive or delete. Newsletters I am strict about to make sure I only continue to get them if I plan to read later or have

    Just like anything, if you don't manage it, it will manage you. I make a decision with each email if I need to unsubscribe or find all emails from that company/person and select-all/archive or delete. Newsletters I am strict about to make sure I only continue to get them if I plan to read later or have a business use for them. The rest are mostly transactional and rules setup to make that easier.

  • Never reading most of your emails but saving all of them forever creates an amazing searchable database of your life. This may be the only time that hoarding and procrastinating pay off.

  • Failure to handle email efficiently and professionally is a good indicator of poor management skills. This is the primary communication system for business although collaborative operations are predominantly SMS/text based now. In some organizations Slack or Teams works. I have rarely seen that in large

    Failure to handle email efficiently and professionally is a good indicator of poor management skills. This is the primary communication system for business although collaborative operations are predominantly SMS/text based now. In some organizations Slack or Teams works. I have rarely seen that in large organizations, however.

    The filtering and prioritization tools in Outlook and even Gmail are incredibly valuable. My preference is Outlook as it learns Focused and others. The result is I deal with only about 150 emails a day and that I do when I get up. The others I may scan but usually not.

    By dealing only with focused email that does, usually, set my morning priorities. Why would I not want those who work for or with me to set my morning priorities? If you have a low level job and must produce work this might be a problem. Email probably is not that important then.

    And I never answer or make phone calls. I tell people that. Txt or email me and I respond. Voicemail is transcribed for me as email so it falls into my priority system.

    This is not hard but keeps information, clients and direct reports quickly managed. If you pay attention I’ve never seen an organization where all messaging did not slow greatly after noon. That is meeting, planning, or writing time.

  • I have three email addresses. One for friends and family. One for financial institutions and bussinesses I, well, do business with. And a third account for the rest.

    I keep the personal inbox cleared everyday. That's easy.

    I read the financial and bussiness related emails as they arrive.

    And the third

    I have three email addresses. One for friends and family. One for financial institutions and bussinesses I, well, do business with. And a third account for the rest.

    I keep the personal inbox cleared everyday. That's easy.

    I read the financial and bussiness related emails as they arrive.

    And the third address, for things like Redbox, newspapers, and whatever... I get to whenever I feel like.

    That one could keep me busy for hours if I let it

  • I gave up a long time ago on the idea of answering every email. Even if I had nothing else to do, it would take not if not all of my work day. But, this doesn’t mean I’m rude to people who write me. The last word being the operative one. Let me explain.

    I spend some part of every morning going through

    I gave up a long time ago on the idea of answering every email. Even if I had nothing else to do, it would take not if not all of my work day. But, this doesn’t mean I’m rude to people who write me. The last word being the operative one. Let me explain.

    I spend some part of every morning going through my inbox. As a reporter, and even more so, as a bitcoin/crypto reporter, my inbox is stuffed with mass emails. Pitches, newsletters, mass emails, whatever. If the emails don’t grab me with the subject line, come from unknown senders, or appear to mass mailings, I delete them without reading. They weren’t sent to *me,* they were sent to 50 or 500 or who knows how many people. This is, in my opinion, an intrusion on my privacy and time, and I feel no guilt about not replying.

    If it’s a personal email, from one person sent directly to me - and you can tell the difference - I try to respond. People who thoughtfully take the time to contact me deserve a response. I’m not perfect in this, because I simply get more email than I can process. But I try.

    If it’s a reader, and not a belligerent reader, I reply. Customers always deserve a response.

    Still, the bottom line is that my inbox has more traffic in it than I can realistically handle. I long ago gave up on the idea of clearing it out, or responding to every email that lands in there.

  • Email has devolved into de facto communication. It pains me greatly that people have forgotten how to use a phone for voice, properly conduct a productive conference call/meeting, or use face-to-face communications.

    Email is mostly relied upon as CYA and an unconfirmed means of “pushing the ball out

    Email has devolved into de facto communication. It pains me greatly that people have forgotten how to use a phone for voice, properly conduct a productive conference call/meeting, or use face-to-face communications.

    Email is mostly relied upon as CYA and an unconfirmed means of “pushing the ball out of your court”. My FAVORITE is when someone sends an email, immediately rises from their desk, walks to my doorway, and asks if I saw the email they sent me. Email’s primary function should be to inform, not necessarily to solicit an action.

    When someone complains or looks to escalate on another not responding to email my first question is “did you call them”? My second question is “did you visit them for a F2F”? If the answers are “well, no” then I stare at them until they understand what to do next - the blinking can go on for what seems like ages at times, the key is to embrace the awkward silence and allow them to work the problem. I’m also a HUGE fan of the “Reply All” bug that seems to infect so many. Can we all agree the developer who programmed the Microsoft Outlook “Ignore” feature deserves the Nobel Peace Prize?

    It’s pretty simple - schedule your schedule don’t let it schedule you. Email is still important and in some cases may be the only or best method for communication - like when I’m working with someone in Australia (time difference). So email must be attended to but not all emails are created equal and you should start acting that way - “inbox zero” is driven by OCD or some other non-business related neuroses, NOT productivity. Simple daily routines on when to address email and other pro-tips to better organize your inbox and power meaningful prioritization are so easy and effective it’s almost laughable. These cheat codes warrant an entire exposé - and I’m not even talking about apps and super-tools, just settings, options, and configurations in existing email clients.

    I could keep going, but much like email - the longer I go the less effective the message...

  • Other than our customer service reps, no one in the company has a job description that includes replying to emails. The job is to create value for users and shareholders. Sometimes that involves replying to emails. Often it does not.

  • How incompetent can one person be? With the myriad of email services, each with specific ways of managing incoming and outgoing mail, finding yourself with 2700 unread emails seems lazy or the author is suffering from depression.

  • Really not a big deal unless you make it one, and if that’s the case examine what led to your extremely cluttered email. Not to say it’s always clear-cut, like making a habit of ‘saving for later.’ Sometimes it can be a symptom of having too much in your plate (which is sadly just a reality for some)

    Really not a big deal unless you make it one, and if that’s the case examine what led to your extremely cluttered email. Not to say it’s always clear-cut, like making a habit of ‘saving for later.’ Sometimes it can be a symptom of having too much in your plate (which is sadly just a reality for some).

    A palate cleanser can also work. If you’re fed up, create a new email and take steps toward avoiding build-up.

  • As marketing officer at Japanese startup, I heave never in trouble about email.

    The email environment may be different between Japan and America.

  • Answer the very few important ones as they come in... let the rest fill the dark hole of massive cloud storage full of unread emails.

  • The struggle is real. I’ve tried many different systems over the years from folders to tags which are a mess as is my current “getting things done” inspired system. All insufficient.

    None of it works as the firehose just keeps blasting away.

  • It’s funny how unread email count or app notification badges bother some people so much. If it’s not relevant, just don’t open it, don’t click on it, or don’t answer it.

    I have a 5-digit-unread-emails notification on my phone. No time wasted at all 🤣

    #productivity #timemanagement

  • Apparently my thousands of unread emails are just me being ahead of the curve 😎

  • Done and done. I gave up a long time ago.

  • A great comment stream!

  • Freedom!

  • Inbox zero is impossible.

  • At least once a week, I have 'inbox zero'. I scan for anything obviously important, then delete the rest... I am retired, really retired, and if anyone has anything really important for me, they can call...had email been around when I was working, I, undoubtedly, would have been almost as ruthless as I am now...

  • Delete. Declutter. Throw out. Don’t waste time unless you have it in excess. It’s the one commodity you absolutely can never recover.

  • A couple of weeks ago I posted on LinkedIn that we all should curate our social media and news feeds going into the new year. Your inbox shouldn’t be any different.

    If you’re getting 17,000 emails then you’re likely in some sort of communication loop or there is a need for some serious delegation and

    A couple of weeks ago I posted on LinkedIn that we all should curate our social media and news feeds going into the new year. Your inbox shouldn’t be any different.

    If you’re getting 17,000 emails then you’re likely in some sort of communication loop or there is a need for some serious delegation and org restructuring. Make “unsubscribe” be your best friend. Dump any subscription that you haven’t read in the last two weeks. It’s just not that important.

    If we don’t curate and control our own space, no amount of technology will help. We have email. Then we have too much email so we have slack. Then it’s email+slack, then something else, then we’re overwhelmed again.

  • No, no, no, no. Prioritise and then keep on top if it.

  • I am in!

  • Never do. Never will. Loathe the way most people email.

  • Guessing that’s what Slack does. While, I think that decorum and candor on the business are also imperative.

  • Don’t talk to anyone. No one is worth it and the government will arrest you

  • Resolutions?

  • 😁

  • Personal interaction is almost extinct

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