Gmail, We Have a Problem

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:

  1. I check my inbox in the morning, usually when I first wake up. (yes, I know that’s generally a no-no)
  2. I read emails even if I don’t have the time to write an adequate response.
  3. I leave Gmail open in my browser almost all the time.
  4. 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.

The email, the email, what what the email.

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.

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