Confessions of an INBOX Addict!

– submitted by Laurie Riedman, Xerox public relations consultant

Ok. I admit it.  I have a problem with my inbox.

It’s normal for me to have thousands of emails in my inbox – often staring at me in bold type and unread ;(

I simply can’t keep up with the flow of information. Much of it is essential – -and for the most part I do keep up with the critical ones — (emails from clients and journalists) – but with all the RSS feeds, technology blogs, Google Alerts and e-zine notifications coming in – I do get a tad behind.

That doesn’t include those great special offers (with valuable promo codes for free shipping) and all the important personal from my kids’ schools, coaches, music lessons, girl scouts or the many non-profit organizations I am involved in.  Oh, and let’s not forget the spam with the foreign language subject lines!email_bulge

I try to keep up.   I really do!

In fact this week during a recent 14 hour drive with my family I went delete crazy and whittled down the ‘ol inbox from over 10,000 emails to just fewer than 2,000.  I’m guessing that even David Allen from Getting Things Done fame would be proud.

I’ve tried a number of tools, watched countless online tutorials and even begged my very organized husband to help. (Sorry Rich but the elaborate color coding system didn’t work either — but it did brighten up my inbox!)

You would think I could get one of my Xerox scientist friends to help me. As a PR consultant to the Xerox Innovation Group – I work with folks like Frederique Segond from Xerox Research Centre Europe who develops technology that helps customers make sense of their electronic information. Come to think of it I bet I wrote the press release on these tips from a Xerox Future of Work study a group of ethnographers did at Xerox Research Center Webster on how to handle Information Overload

Xerox has teams of talented folks creating innovative services that help customers tame their information and document management issues so they can get down to their real business at hand.

I guess I have to keep at it.  The information flow certainly isn’t going to stop.  If you have found a way to tame your inbox – please share your tips.  I can use all the help I can get!

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  1. Andy M August 18, 2010 - Reply

    I keep a separate email account for RSS feeds, technology blogs, Google Alerts and e-zine notifications etc. I’ve been using a web based email client Taroby which helps me configure multiple email accounts. Unsubscribing all those unwanted stuff (less relevant stuff) would definitely help.

  2. Deborah Richards August 18, 2010 - Reply

    I hear ya, sister. I stress way too much over the number of emails in my inbox. The color coding did not work for me either. What I’ve come to realize, though, is that is it just a number, much like the number on the scale: it fluctuates from day to day. The important thing is how I feel. So, I work hard to see the number when I turn on my computer each morning a just know that it is what it is. Ya know, accept the things I cannot change!

  3. Laurie Riedman August 19, 2010 - Reply

    Andy — Thanks for the idea on the separate email address and I’ll check out that tool you mentioned. I know i have to be more diligent with unsubscribing …. it’s just that it’s one of those things that never ends!

  4. Laurie Riedman August 19, 2010 - Reply

    Deb – good to hear from you and I appreciate your comment on being more ‘mindful’ when it comes to my inbox!

  5. Andrew Bradford August 23, 2010 - Reply

    I used to have this problem, although to a lesser degree. I found that closing my email application for most of the day and only opening it at set times (like just after lunch for an hour or two) in order to read, respond, and organize my messages was very helpful.
    By having a schedule I was able to minimize distractions during my day, and it focused me on just doing email when it was time.
    Between that, and unsubscribing from everything that came into my inbox that wasn’t required, cutting down on the overload was not as difficult. The one thing I found most annoying was that in Outlook, I can’t just have the calendar and to do list open. Sometimes it’s nice to have integrated applications, but sometimes it’s even better to have separate applications that interact well.

  6. Laurie Riedman August 25, 2010 - Reply

    I wish I could un-hook from Outlook as easily as you can Andrew! I know what you mean about having many of the tools open at the same time. I really use the “windows” capability of Windows by having so many open at one time! BTW – I just learned of a new technology from Meshin – a Xerox funded PARC start-up that is available for trial. It’s an Outlook plug in. I know it helps with managing information from multiple sources using semantics technology. I’m going to check it out. You can too –

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