Feb 112011
No Inbox Zero

No Inbox Zero

In the tech world people go all kinds of nuts about how important it is to get to “inbox zero“. The reality is that it doesn’t matter at all. It only matters if you think it matters. It is all about perception. I tell people this and it’s like telling them that going to church is against the bible (which it is, but that is another debate). People have been told this lie so many times that they just can’t see any other way of looking at things. The reality is that it depends on the person. For me it makes zero difference.

Some see emails that are more than a day old as ‘clutter‘. I call it organization. If I get an email from a press agent about a major tour coming, I keep that info there in case I need it. That email contains a ton of info. It tells me first off which of my many contacts is in charge of that event. For the major package tours it can also list the correct contact for each of the bands on that tour. That email can list all the dates on the tour. So if I need to beef up a story about the event all the info is just right there in my inbox. For me that is a stress reliever that it is there. It saves me time. Sure I could look up a contact. Do I look for that contact under what company they work for? That tells me nothing about what artists they are working at that moment. Since press agents work a project for three months, this can change constantly. It would cost me several days per week to keep a database of those contacts and who is working who current. It would also stress me out beyond belief. Honestly I’m not even sure how I would go about it. It’s just easier to keep that email there conveniently waiting for me in case I need it. Once the tour has past my city, and my content from the tour is posted, I usually delete it. But not a second before.

That is just one example of why I keep some emails in my inbox. I could write an entire book on the reasons not to delete things from my inbox, but the point is that there are plenty of good reasons. The stress created by removing those items is way higher than the stress relieved (none) from being at inbox zero. About a year ago I worked like hell to get to inbox zero. It really sucked. It was pure hell and caused a ton of problems for me. How good did it feel? It felt like I had climbed a mountain to move a pebble one inch. How hard should you work at climbing a mountain to move a pebble one inch?

I don’t care how hip or cool some of you think it is to get to inbox zero. I’m not doing it. It doesn’t work for me. Get it through your head that not everyone is the same. Not everyone’s use of email is the same. Maybe I get more email than you? Maybe the industry I work for creates situations where it is a very bad thing to just delete email. I’m sure that some have jobs where getting to inbox zero might just take an extra hour or so. I’m sure some of you have jobs where deleting that email won’t create major stressful situations for you. Good for you. What do you want, a gold star? It doesn’t work for everyone. For some it would be a major undertaking and then create major issues.

So I said that achieving inbox zero was like climbing a huge mountain so you can move a pebble an inch. What I left out was that the pebble was keeping that volcano from erupting. Good job dumbass. Enjoy the lava bath.