Email triage

It’s time. Grab the stopwatch, pack the laptop, and head out the door.
Sit down at a local coffee shop (one without wireless) with a cup of coffee and a muffin, and inventory the damage. Starting point: 63 emails in the inbox, 32 in @followup. The largest clump of messages (23) is from two weeks ago, which is when things got really bad. I’m fairly aggressive about dealing with emails “above the fold” (i.e., the new ones), but when they slip into need-to-scroll land, they risk getting stuck.
Catch myself in the trap of spending time giving thoughtful responses instead of triaging. The inbox is at 54. Re-commence filing and discarding.
Inbox is at zero! @followup now has 40 messages, the outbox has 2, and I’ve scribbled down 4 action items on paper. Not as bad as I’d expected, at least so far. Now to cull @followup.
After applying the “is there really a next step here that I care about taking?” test to everything in @followup, the count is now at 15. A few emails represented possibilities that had expired. One message is two years old, but it’s an outlier that really should go on a “someday, maybe” list.
@followup is down to 13, with 2 more emails in the outbox. Of what’s left, half require network access. Two are requests that I’m conflicted about, but will probably say “No” to. The remaining stuff in @followup represents 2-3 hours of work. Not as bad as I’d expected.
Finished a second cup of coffee, and some other laptop cleanup. I must have zoned out for a while; it doesn’t feel like a half-hour has passed.
Back at home, with wireless connectivity. 8 new emails; 7 are spam. The other requires a few minutes of investigation before dispatching.
One @followup was to renew a domain registration, which required shuffling through some paperwork. I won’t have to worry about that one for another 5 years.
One @followup was about an updated PDF for the Pragmatic Programmer’s Rails book, which required digging up my customer number. Meanwhile, the emails that I sent 17 minutes ago have already generated two responses. Doesn’t anyone have a life? Reply to one of them.
Filing expenses on-line rocks. Down to 11 in @followup.
Catch myself web surfing. Bad Dave. Meanwhile 2 more spams got through the filter.
Started to deal with another @followup, but it’s one that needs some thinking before I can decide which way to go, and I’m out of time this morning. The @followup count is still at 11.