Tuesday, February 09, 2010

keeping the number down

Before I left on vacation at the end of December, I tried (and mostly succeeded) in whittling down the number of e-mails in my inbox at work. Getting under 30 was a big success and probably half of that remaining 30 was lingering long-term items that I kept nearby for handy reference. Part of this will always have to do with Outlook, which I strongly dislike because it is simply such a poor program for organizing AND searching through past correspondence. As a result, I have developed the habit of CCing myself on most of the e-mails I send so that I have a convenient copy to file away instead of the mess that is the 'Sent' folder.

Since I have been back, I've made what I feel to be very acceptable progress and have stayed well below 100 inbox items (which is my general goal). Since you don't know how I organize, structure and prioritize correspondence, such a number may seem like a lot or a little. Suffice to say, I use my inbox as a holding area of sorts for open items so many of the e-mails are from myself which I leave in the inbox as a reminder until I get a reply. Reference items will also remain for extended periods of time simply for ease of access.

My e-mail experience changed today. After multiple e-mails from IT on the matter, I have grudgingly moved from Office 2003 to Office 2007. That move will be acceptable enough, though I already dislike Excel 2007 if only because I do basic things and liked what I had gotten used to using. I am a bit of luddite despite my apparent demographic. The greater difficulty lies with the changing of mail servers. The process is ongoing since I have now received nothing (not even from subscription lists) for six hours which is a sign of a problem somewhere. But I am getting e-mails from myself (from both internal and external sending addresses) which may simply indicate the bulletin boards are not working.

E-mail drives correspondence. Yesterday, I sent 39 e-mails. That's 39 (literally) hand-crafted pictures of prose so elegant that you would weep. Each one, a literary masterpiece greater than the one before. Or not. At least the spelling is better than in this blog since I proof what I write and run spell checker. (See, when it's not late at night, I actually try.) I don't even bother to count the number I receive since many of them are (or at least used to be until the program change) automatically filtered to various folders based on the subscription list rules I have (or had) set up. Twelve of these e-mails had attachments of some kind meaning work product, proposal, analysis, draft agreement, or whatever that had to be meticulously sculpted and balanced just so between form and function, between zesty excitement and useful information. It was simply one of those days, grinding away at everything.

Here's the problem. I write a lot of things most days. And I don't exactly come up with lots of energy to read and write more late at night most of the time when I get home. And that's assuming the other laptop isn't here with me. The end result (aside from the infrequent blogging) is that my personal e-mail account is an unmitigated disaster. Over 300 items in the inbox and 100+ are unread. I have only been replying to the most critical items. Maybe. I suppose I'll start into it all eventually, though I'm not sure when. And I'll start, not at the beginning, but at the end, and trudge through them in reverse chronological order. I'm sorry. Orders will not be processed in the order in which they were received.

1 comment:

buickguy said...

OK, we understand -- sort of. I use Outlook 2007 (but Office 2000 for the "other" software). I have no trouble categorizing emails and then using the Task List to keep up with replies. That is just one solution to your headaches. Sounds like you need a personal assistant, you know, one with a heart beat, not the PDA variety. Although if you are not staying in touch out in the field ...