I recently made an important discovery:
I have too much email.
It weighs on me mentally every time that I look at my inbox. The 600+ messages feel completely out of my control. There are a few bad behaviors that I can pinpoint that contribute to this problem:
- I check my inbox in the morning, usually when I first wake up. (yes, I know that’s generally a no-no)
- I read emails even if I don’t have the time to write an adequate response.
- I leave Gmail open in my browser almost all the time.
- I receive many email-based notifications – some of which I don’t actually need.
Suffice to say, I know that I have a problem. What I’m not sure about, however, is the best way to solve it. I’ve tried Inbox Zero before without much success, and Gmail’s priority inbox feature doesn’t make much sense to me.
Recognizing the problem is the first step, but now I need to take a few concrete steps to improve the situation. For starters, I’ll take a page out of The 4-Hour Work Week and limit the number of times I check my email. 3-4 times per day is probably enough to be in the loop without too much delay between message receipt and response. Next, I’ll try to handle each email only once. If I read it, I’ll respond to the best of my ability in order to get it out of my inbox.
If I can apply these two techniques successfully, then I can, at minimum, curb the current email onslaught. Then I can do massive triage on the remaining emails in my inbox.
Let’s do this.
In the hours since the untimely death of Steve Jobs, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I would like to address my feeling about him. What I can do is give a personal account of the relevance of Steve Jobs in my own life and in my understanding of the world. So here’s my attempt at that:
I’m too young to have strong impressions of early Macintosh computers, but I do very clearly remember the first iPod. A 5GB, white, deck of cards, which for its time, like most other products that Steve Jobs put his hands on, was revolutionary. I remember being jealous of my Mac-using friends who were the first to lay hands on this device. The idea that instead of toting a Walkman, I could have small copies of my music in a single device that everyone could use (even certain technophobic members of my family).
It’s easy to look at the iPod, iPhone, iPad, MacBook Air, iCloud, iTunes, and really any other trailblazing Apple product as an inevitability. In retrospect, we say of course keyboardless phone makes sense and of course you don’t need to build in a optical drive, but that is where Steve’s true genius lies. He is well-known for his dislike of focus groups and traditional market research methods, but I won’t be the first to say that he anticipated consumer needs in a revolutionary way. I hope, as a marketer and a technology enthusiast, I can grow to understand the true impact of Steve Jobs on Silicon Valley, consumer technology, and ultimately, the public consciousness.
Steve Jobs was a great man. Even with his personality quirks, his strength of character, doggedness, and resilience influenced and will continue to influence others years down the road.
Perhaps then, the rise of another tech giant taking lessons from the school of Jobs is inevitable. It shows that there is a place in the world for a tech company CEO to be more than just a rockstar programmer. That management, vision, and consumer understanding sometimes come from a wholly different perspective. To me, that is the most inspiring aspect of Steve Jobs’ life.
Rest in peace Steve, and thank you for creating and embodying a revolution.
Steve Jobs: Imitated, Never Duplicated from David Pogue, tech columnist for the NYT
Steve Jobs’ Commencement Speech at Stanford, one of the most inspiring speeches I’ve ever experienced (and it is an experience)
Beautiful Steve Jobs Tribute by my friend Chris