Road Test: Email edi­tion

In this new se­ries, NEXT team mem­bers will road test new ideas. This month: Ed­i­tor Rachael de­cided it was time to stop be­ing ruled by her in­box

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Not ev­ery­thing about email is bad. For a start, I much pre­fer an un­so­licited email than a cold-call. And there are times I need to com­pose a care­fully con­sid­ered re­sponse rather than wing­ing an an­swer over the phone. But email is a never-end­ing drain on my time, at­ten­tion and pro­duc­tiv­ity. I be­gan this ex­per­i­ment with 24,441 emails in my in­box (I treat it as my ‘ar­chive’). Of those, 124 were still un­read at 3pm on a Mon­day. And that’s af­ter delet­ing all the ob­vi­ous junk and deal­ing with the ones I con­sid­ered most ur­gent. Oliver Burke­man, au­thor of The An­ti­dote: Hap­pi­ness For Peo­ple Who Can’t Stand Pos­i­tive Think­ing, de­scribes email as “a to-do list that any­body in the world can add to”. Sounds hor­ri­fy­ingly ac­cu­rate to me. I de­cided to fol­low his four tips to con­trol­ling my email, rather than let­ting it con­trol me.

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