Your Inbox is A Total Jerk


Remember when the biggest distraction in your was your office mate’s compulsion for celebrating absolutely everything? “Josh got a promotion! We’re meeting in the break room for cake at 11!” Congratulating Josh – and Karen on her new baby, Dali on her relocation to LA, and Kai on his birthday – really added up in terms of time away from your real work. But still, those time sucks were nothing compared to the amount of time we waste in our inboxes.

And at least there was cake.

Using the Washington Post’s utterly depressing calculator, I figured out how many cake-less hours I’ve spent on emails: Forty thousand, or around four hours a day for the entirety of my career until I finally retire.

In that time, according to the Post, I could have learned two dozen languages or hiked the Appalachian Trail 100 times. Excuse me while I sob at the thought of all I’ve missed. But first, let me check my email. I heard a ping.

There are certainly ways to be better time managers when it comes to our inboxes. Like auto-responses that inform your inbox visitors you’ll answer their note at your designated inbox-checking times of 11:00 am and 2:00 pm. Pretty soon, they’ll understand what to expect from you and maybe learn to be a little more intentional with their emails, too.

There are also apps that can help…if you use them. Inbox When Ready is my personal favorite. It hides your incoming and existing messages while you’re composing new ones, distraction free, and has a genius inbox lockout feature that prevents you from checking your inbox until a designated time.

Or, we can take a few tips from the military. That’s right: They’re tough as nails, and good with emails. Kabir Sehgal, US Navy veteran and author, suggests starting with the subject line, using words in all caps that tell the recipient exactly what the intention of the message is:

  • ACTION: Compulsory for the recipient to take some action.
  • SIGN: Requires the signature of the recipient
  • INFO: For informational purposes only, and there is no response or action required.
  • DECISION: Requires a decision by the recipient.
  • REQUEST: Seeks permission or approval by the recipient.
  • COORD: Short for coordination, by or with the recipient is needed.

In a matter of seconds, your recipient knows exactly what your email’s intention is, which may not only help reduce the time you spend writing email, but also save other people’s time, too.

At The Found Gen, we’ve got lots of ideas to maximize your message while minimizing your involvement. Trust us: You’re going to love the time we save you. Meet you on the Appalachian Trail?