Email Overload: Declaring Email Bankruptcy

There is a new phenomenon happening behind closed doors in the corporate world. We call it email bankruptcy.

To illustrate, we would challenge you to an experiment. Assuming your email policies allow this, we dare you to simply delete all the email in your inbox that is older than three days and see if it causes you much grief. All of it.

Then wait for 10 days and see how much of it was really important.

Lest you think us extreme, we think you will be surprised with how much of the "work" represented by those emails simply "goes away." After all, much of what is in your inbox represents other people’s priorities, which are usually not the same as yours.

We are hearing of more and more people who have added a regular declaration of email bankruptcy to their strategies in trying to cope with information overload.

Taming your inbox is hard, but it's a necessary step if you are to increase your productivity and sanity.

... David Sengupta

One Comment

  1. Posted July 26, 2008 at 8:59 PM | Permalink

    Hi David,

    I think this is an interesting thought exercise and I’ve seen others’ do it. You are right that in the grand scheme of things, not much bad will happen most of the time from doing this. Furthermore, I agree that email represents’ OPP (other peoples’ priorities) 🙂

    However, I do think the issue is the fear of missing the one important email that might happen every now and then. I don’t know if it’s happened to you, but I have had situations where a mis-categorized junk email (for me or for my recipient) caused major problems in meeting scheduling, etc.

    Also, I do feel like responding to email is just plain good manners, but I’m sure my view is antiquated.


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