I’m going to interrupt my personal January social media #ghostingnotposting month for an important announcement, which is this:
Friends: let’s stop it with the inbox zero being nirvana.
First of all, I have no clue why people think that inbox zero is some type of heaven. It’s not. For those of us who get a TON of email each and every day — the last thing I want to do is get rid of it if it’s germane to my work. My name is Erin Albert, and I am a proud email hoarder! I have several reasons for keeping my email, such as the following:
- Email is a digital trail of your work and accomplishments.
- Email is a great tool to keep and hold others accountable— yes, keeping my email and then digging it out when I need to call someone on what they signed up for has been a lifesaver for me and my team at work countless times now. This reason alone above all others is key.
- Email is an outstanding substitute for wasting others’ time with incessant meetings when just conveying information. (Note: you can have all the email in the world, but your time you’ll never get back!) Seriously — send me an email and let’s skip the meeting!
- Email is a fantastic historical archive. You don’t have to memorize everything. And I have way too many collaborators, projects and processes to memorize now.
- Email is searchable. (Texts and slack messages? Not so much.)
- Email is great means to convey info to more than one person. CC is one of my favorites to keep my team all on the same page!
Second, I’m interrupting my social media ghosting, because this article infuriated me when I saw it posted. It’s promoting absolutely everything that is wrong with our society these days. (I wrote about the serious lack of attention being a plague and the most dangerous trend inside of our society right now.) Removing the greetings and salutations for example on an email — why?!? I’d argue to this editor that most college students today do not even know how to write a decent cover letter anymore BECAUSE we’re not only not teaching proper formatting on cover letters, but now it’s out of vogue to even construct one!
It’s wrong to promote incivility in email.
Also, I’m personally getting really tired of the excuses of others stating that they cannot keep up with their email at work as well. My friends, it’s our job to…sorry! That’s part of the deal you signed up for as a professional. And I’d take a deluge of email any day over attending incessant meetings. I can get more done on and through my inbox than I ever could recovering from yet another meeting that SHOULD have instead been an email.
Three sentence emails — anything more is rude. Really?!? Details matter in my professions, and the Cliff Notes versions aren’t always going to cut it on highly complex projects and processes.
I’m here to say that we should not strive, reward, or promote attention deficit communications, incivility with lack of openings and closings, and/or a zero inbox in 2020 and beyond. We need to get back to details. We need to return to keeping ourselves organized as professionals. And most of all, we need to reward those who are covering the basics in our communications, not subscribe to the excuses of having too much to keep up and given a free pass to shirk work because they allegedly can’t keep up.
My inboxes are probably around hundreds of thousands of emails across accounts now. And THAT, to me, is nirvana. I gave up the idea of inbox zero a long time ago in order to focus on what’s important: keeping the ideas and communication flowing and finishing up and archiving my work, period.
My bottom line and best advice: Ignore the promoters of the attention deficit: for they are the 4 horsemen of our society’s apocalypse…in all the ways I outlined above, and many more.
Erin L. Albert is a writer and email hoarder, inter alia. She also believes details matter. Opinions above are hers and hers alone.