Aug 30, 2010

On Email Inboxes and User Obsessiveness

The presence of unanswered emails and tasks in my email Inbox has always gnawed away at me, and I usually strive to keep such messages under 30 items. This is perhaps evidence of some undiagnosed mental condition, but as Popeye said: "I yam what I yam, and that's all what I yam."

Recently I engaged in some Inbox-cleaning, as depicted in the accompanying screen shot, and I managed to slash the items in my Inbox to the lowest number (eight) that I can recall. I also find that the closer I get to zero, the less stressed out I am about unfinished business.

I contrast this with people I know who have no qualms whatsoever about letting their Inboxes grow to colossal proportions. My wife, for example, is completely unconcerned about the spam and commercial emails that clog her Hotmail account, and on the odd occasion when she asks me to retrieve something for her from this account, I have to fight the urge to create rules to send the spam emails to the junk mail folder.

After all, it is not my account.

This summer I taught a face-to-face course in which students had to present their research findings to the rest of the class using PowerPoint. When the student opened his email account to retrieve the presentation, I was aghast at the fact that the Inbox registered nearly 11,000 unread messages. The student shrugged this off, noting that he planned to "some day" clean house, but he had no difficulty locating his file, so who am I to judge?

Were my Inbox to grow to such gargantuan proportions, I would feel an immediate compulsion to go on a deletion frenzy. Some folks, though, probably have the presence of mind to understand that most items in the Inbox need to be immediately attacked, and that life is too short to be an Inbox neat freak.

I, however, continue to pursue the Holy Grail of the empty Inbox, and I shall persevere in my efforts to wage a righteous war against spammers who seek to defile my sacred virtual space.


JK said...

As of September 5th I have 17,191 unread messages with a total of 22,982 messages in my email inbox.

Anonymous said...

I used to feel moderately guilty about the 1,117 unread messages in my inbox, but now I don't feel so bad after reading how many some other people have!