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75,825 unread emails? That’s showing those Inbox Zero losers who’s the boss!

75,825 unread emails? That’s showing those Inbox Zero losers who’s the boss!

Efficiency experts say we should process our emails promptly, even if it’s just by marking them as read. But that’s not the way some of us roll

Angry woman despairs at inbox

Name: Inbox Zero

Age: The idea was first introduced by efficiency expert Merlin Mann in 2006.

Appearance: Read or dead – nothing in between.

Is this to do with emails? Yes. Mann argues that for productivity’s sake, emails should be processed promptly – either respond, delete, forward or, if unavoidable, defer.

You forgot ignore. Ignore is not part of the Mann plan.

Maybe not, but it works for me. You mean you read emails and then do nothing about them?

Don’t be silly. I don’t read them. Ah, so you’re one of those people.

What people? The sort of people who don’t mind having 400 unread emails cluttering their inbox.

I resent that. I actually have 75,823 unread emails in my inbox. How could you let that happen?

Hang on … it’s 75,824 now. Wow! I have to make sure I have zero unread emails by the end of each working day – otherwise I would go mad!

I think you might be already, mate. Who cares? Well, I guess there are just two types of people in this world.

Yeah: normal people, and you. This is actually part of a lively, ongoing debate about the opposing personality traits that lie behind tidy email inboxes and overflowing ones.

What personality traits? For example: “Some people organise best mentally and therefore don’t thrive off of notes, agendas and notifications systems,” one psychologist told Huffington Post. Or maybe responding to emails gives you anxiety, and that’s why you avoid it, she suggested: “Don’t assume lots of unread notifications implies the person is easy-breezy about them.”

I am very easy-breezy about my unread notifications. Perhaps you feel a compulsive need to live up to unrealistic standards of communication. I just like to be on top of things, that’s all.

I am on top of things, and I also have 75,825 unread emails. So what? You’re treating it as some perverse badge of honour. Why don’t you just delete them?

My future biographers might be interested in their contents. Who am I to censor? Why don’t you at least mark them as read?

I don’t see that as a valuable use of my time. How can you tell which emails need further attention, and which ones don’t?

I only ever concern myself with the top four. You should try it. But how do you sleep knowing thousands of unread emails are piled up in your inbox like that, with more coming every hour?

You know it’s not a real box, right? I need to lie down.

Do say: “Well, that’s another boring email I can never unread.”

Don’t say: “Hi, hope you’re well. Just wanted to see if you’d had a chance to look at this Inbox Personality Test yet.”


  • Email
  • Pass notes
  • Productivity
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