How Much E-Mail Is A Lot? - InformationWeek

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11/15/2007
06:42 PM
John Foley
John Foley
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How Much E-Mail Is A Lot?

I spend countless hours reading, writing, deleting, and organizing e-mail. My day begins and ends with it, and I still haven't seen the bottom of my in-box in weeks.

I spend countless hours reading, writing, deleting, and organizing e-mail. My day begins and ends with it, and I still haven't seen the bottom of my in-box in weeks.I just did a quick tally of yesterday's e-mail. I received 220 messages and my Barracuda spam filter screened another 57, for a total of 277 incoming messages. I wish I could tell you how many messages I sent, but I have no record. Since I've maxed out the storage allotted by my company's IT department, there's no room for copies of sent mail. Let's say I sent 30 to 40 messages, which is a conservative estimate. That puts me at over 300 incoming/outgoing messages for the day (not including instant messages or my Yahoo e-mail account). Not bad, really.

Yesterday was average; most days are worse. So I'm generally in the 300 to 400 e-mails per day range, not including the stuff snared by the spam filter. Of the messages that came in yesterday, about a third were from colleagues or other internal correspondence. Of the rest, very few were one-to-one messages from people trying to engage in meaningful dialogue. The vast majority were e-mail blasts -- newsletters, news alerts, press releases, mass invites (some thinly disguised as being personal in nature), and sheer junk that made it through the filter.

Much of what I get can be deleted quickly without opening. A few require time and attention. Let's call it the 90/10 rule -- 90% of my e-mail time goes to 10% of the messages. I'm guessing that amounts to two hours a day, though it seems like more.

The BlackBerry helps immeasurably. I use it to delete junk, so that when I do sit at a PC, I can get straight to work. I scan messages while on-the-go, on weekends, and even sometimes at stoplights, but I'm no BlackBerry addict.

The longest subject line of the day came from, well, it speaks for itself: WESTINGHOUSE DIGITAL LAUNCHES MAJOR NATIONAL TV CAMPAIGN TO SUPPORT ITS HIGH-END LCD HDTVS, COMPUTER MONITORS AND DIGITAL PHOTO FRAMES

The shortest was "I'm back…" from a colleague who raced from his office when he got word that smoke was coming from the basement of his house. Nothing like a fire to keep the messages short. Fortunately, no serious harm done.

I'm getting lots of pitches from startup companies about better ways to manage e-mail. Needless to say, they use e-mail to communicate. I'll write about some of them tomorrow.

Meantime, how much e-mail do others get and how do you manage it? And, since this is a startup blog, what are the opportunities for entrepreneurs to make things better?

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