Extreme Methods Of Dealing With Email

We've covered dozens of solutions for handling the everlasting flow of email that arrives in one's inbox. Spam is straightforward to deal with, but what about replying to an inbox full of legitimate correspondence? If you're short on time, or just don't have anything to contribute, you could always just not reply.

Image: Pascual López / Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

FT Magazine's Simon Kuper has put together a list of six strategies for overcoming a burgeoning email account. The first four are mostly diplomatic, while the last two... aren't. At all:

If anyone demands a reply, punish them. If somebody writes, "Please could you go over this again, answering my queries", then respond with tedious questions of your own. George Orwell used this method to deter time-wasting publishers.
A more radical solution: never reply. My FT colleague Jonathan Eley tweeted me his advice: "When you go on holiday, set up Gmail to delete incoming emails so you don't have to spend a day going through them." A friend of mine from pre-internet days had a similar policy: he never opened boring letters. Sometimes this produced negative shocks: he'd belatedly discover, say, that he’d run up a £100 library fine. On the upside, he didn't spend any time on administration.

Sure, you're not going to win any friends by employing these methods, but it's better than becoming a slave to every single email in your inbox.

How to free yourself from email [FT Magazine]


    It's one thing to not reply. It's another to not read it in the first place.

    Sometimes after a long holiday or a secondment to another division/department the inbox becomes overwhelming.

    I then email all my potentially important contacts advising them that:

    a) My inbox is now so full there is no way I will ever catch up.
    b) I therefore declare email bankruptcy.
    b) I have deleted all email in my inbox. (I don't actually delete them, just put them in the "Probably never read folder"
    c) If you have anything that is still current AND urgently requires a reply, please resend your email.

    It is amazing how few emails I receive in response.

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