There are two things at work that everyone seems to universally hate: email and meetings. And I think the hatred stems from the same basic reason: they’re both a vortex in which time enters and never returns. They’re quagmires that distract us all from doing actual work
Everyone knows I hate email
. These days, I try to limit the amount I write about such hatred to once a year. It’s about that time…
It occurred to me recently that email and meetings are actually even more similar than the parallel above. Emails are basically little meetings that you get sucked into throughout a day. Some of them may take just a few seconds, others take far longer. Some may even take days or weeks (to think about and respond to).
I came to this conclusion recently while using the latest version of Gmail, which was released today
. One key new feature is a sidebar that includes other Google apps, such as a particularly useful one called Tasks
. Basically, you can drag any email from your inbox into a task list, to deal with later. It’s both amazing and awful.
It’s amazing because it clears out your inbox. For a long time – since the Mailbox days
– I have been a big user of the “snooze” functionality for email (also included in the new Gmail). The problem is that I abuse it. I’m constantly snoozing emails over and over and over again, promising myself I’ll deal with them later. Sometimes that happens. Sometimes it does not…
Regardless, it ends up stressing me out. Because these emails keep boomeranging back to me a day or two later, where I have to think about them all over again. Another mini-meeting that day, as it were. With the new Tasks area, it’s shoving stuff in a drawer to deal with when there’s time. [Narrator: there’s never time.]
This also showcased that my inbox is really just a to-do list. This concept is nothing new
. But just how much
of my inbox falls into this category was a revelation for me, thanks to Tasks. At any given moment, upwards of 50 to 75 percent of the email in my inbox (beyond the spammy stuff) are actually to-dos from other people. A total nightmare.
But because I can now easily shove these emails into the drawer that is Tasks, at least they’re no longer a recurring meeting I have to deal with over and over again, day after day. Sure, you could have used folders in an email client in this way in the past – and I did at various points – but even just the name and design of Tasks drives this situation home.
Anyway, I need to clean this concept up a bit – and I will later, in a separate post – but I just felt like ranting about email, again :)