26 Days ’til 40: Email Insanity!

26 Jan

Screen Shot 2013-01-26 at 12.45.06 AM


It is exhausting knowing that most of the time the phone rings, most of the time there’s an email, most of the time there’s a letter, someone wants something of you. ~ Stephen Fry

I am not sure why, but today I suddenly became cognizant of the state of my email account, particularly of my email “sent” box.  After I did a little happy dance because I had managed to reduce my inbox to a number under 30, I decided to take a look at my sent box – the number there was a bit larger (see the screenshot above).  Yes, I have had this email account for @ 3.5 years and I have sent over 16,500 emails in my sent box.  This number is not even a proper representation, as when I label a sent message then it is moved out of the sent box and into the location of the label.  Therefore, it is probably closer to 17,000 emails.

I am fairly certain that, if email did not exist, I would not have made that many phone calls and I am sure I would not have manually sent out that many letters or memos.  What is it about email that has created a new culture of mass communication?  Ironically, we communicate more, but seem more detached.  I know that parents will send me an email to ask the most basic of questions – probably because email seems less intrusive – they ask questions they would never pick up the phone to ask, but hiding behind a computer screen somehow allows a person to be more bold or more frequent in their communication.

It has changed the reality of my life as an administrator.  When I was covering for an administrator in the late 90’s I would receive 2-4 calls a day from parents.  At that time I did not receive emails because the school districts had not yet evolved to the point of internet connections in every office and email accounts for staff.  Issues came up and I assisted in their resolution.  Today as a permanent administrator  I receive between 30 and 60 emails a day.  The realities of email have indeed changed the role of an administrator – written communication with parents has become a more critical aspect of the position.

Sometimes I LOVE email – I am able to connect with family, friends, and the community I serve.  Other days I HATE email, as I feel like I am drowning in it.  I am working very hard to find middle ground.

Today, 26 days ’til 40, I wonder if I can challenge myself to find a better balance with my email – I believe I would feel so much saner if I could!





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34 responses to “26 Days ’til 40: Email Insanity!

  1. behindthemaskofabuse

    January 26, 2013 at 01:55

    hire an assistant? lol

  2. Toni

    January 26, 2013 at 02:53

    If you find the secret, let me know. My inbox is crazy!

    • 400daystil40

      January 26, 2013 at 22:34

      I am trying to find that secret quickly!

  3. Deborah

    January 26, 2013 at 02:54

    For me, it’s the unpredictability of the number and type of requests that will come through. You try to plan your day, and some people seem to have no respect for that. 🙂 Seriously, the ease with which people can send off an email increases our workload. In the past, when it took people more effort to make requests, I think we had fewer. Balance is so important in all aspects of life, but it seems that it gets more elusive with the ease of “communicating” electronically. Thanks for the post!

    • 400daystil40

      January 26, 2013 at 22:35

      Ah yes, I agree! I think I am going to have an easy day and then I get a complaint/ or question that takes me an hour to answer – so true! I have also said what you mentioned – that the ease of communication perhaps is not a good thing and really does increase workload. Cyberspace makes some things easier, but also places new demands on us.

  4. thelastsongiheard

    January 26, 2013 at 07:57

    Did you know that 95% of emails are spam and never get delivered? 😛

    • 400daystil40

      January 26, 2013 at 22:33

      Thank heavens or I would have even more!!!!! 🙂

  5. Long Life Cats and Dogs

    January 26, 2013 at 10:45

    My inbox is still over 2000 unread!!!! I’ve long since given up on panicking about it. I agree with you, though, on the communicating more but being more detached. Would not want it to go away if it meant blogging stopped, as I’m definitely addicted to this.
    PS – my inbox holds nothing from the blogging stuff – I really shouldn’t be writing this as I should be concentrating on the other but, there you go, this is what addiction will do to you 😀

    • 400daystil40

      January 26, 2013 at 22:33

      Wow, that is a crazy amount of email in your inbox! I think that I would cry if mine was that large! I do not take something out of my inbox until it has been resolved/ answered/ etc. I try really hard to keep it under 30 by the end of the week, but on any given weekday it can easily creep up past 100.

  6. antarabesque

    January 26, 2013 at 17:04

    Wow, that is a crazy amount of mail. I never really considered it.

  7. Another Thousand Words

    January 26, 2013 at 19:04

    Love it or hate it–at least we know our words arrived…and communication, even in the form of e-mails, is very important to ‘the human condition, yes?

    • 400daystil40

      January 26, 2013 at 22:31

      It is a new development in the human condition – as they fly around much more than they used to now that we have cyberspace!

  8. sapphospeaks

    January 26, 2013 at 19:57

    Do you give them your personal email? I had the option of installing a link on my home computer so I could access my work email but decided against it. As it is my work/personal life overlap; I didn’t need yet another thing to interfere with my time off.

    • 400daystil40

      January 26, 2013 at 22:30

      Most write to my work email – but I have consolidated all my accounts into one, which is a personal preference. I do not mind that they come to my home account – they get there through a work email so they only have that option….. with my line of work (more of a vocation than a profession) there really isn’t time off per se, so if I have a few moments I will answer an email quickly – whether it is midnight or a weekend…. maybe it is not the healthiest of boundaries, but I figure if not now, I would be doing it later anyhow (I am salaried, which means I have to get the job done no matter how many hours it takes……..)

  9. ssgt leslie

    January 27, 2013 at 05:43

    amazing, thanks for sharing. i try to delete from my send box before closing my email. some dont erase from their delete box…good luck…

    • 400daystil40

      January 27, 2013 at 23:00

      I wish I could do that!

      • ssgt leslie

        January 28, 2013 at 02:00

        i learned during my deployment, outlook was crashing on most of the account holders, why you ask, 100’s, of emails with attachments, outlook was never designed to be a storage, when outlook reaches a certain capacity,[dont remember the #] outlook stops working. time to delete emails are archive them. good luck.

        • 400daystil40

          January 28, 2013 at 23:45

          Oh wow, that is interesting… I wonder if that issue would ever surface with gmail????

          • ssgt leslie

            January 29, 2013 at 17:07

            good question, if i remember correctly, gmail has about 10 gig free storage. good luck and hope your dont find out.

          • 400daystil40

            January 30, 2013 at 00:19

            Don’t laugh – I already did find out, about six months ago. I had to pay for more storage – thankfully, it only costs me $5 a year!

          • ssgt leslie

            February 18, 2013 at 18:12

            okay, wont laugh…

  10. kenthinksaloud

    January 27, 2013 at 18:59

    I can sympathise. Emails are so important and yet, at the same time, can take over your life!

  11. Dennis the Vizsla

    January 27, 2013 at 21:44

    I would do a find/replace to change “Most” to “All” …

  12. Spider42

    January 28, 2013 at 12:09

    Couldn’t have put it better myself and so I’m not going to try.
    Like all things new, email has both tremendous benefits and problematic drawbacks – what we do with it and how is the key.

  13. knittingwithheart

    January 29, 2013 at 23:08

    Yeah! … the empty-email-happy-dance is one of my most favourite tunes! My “sent” box, however, rarely hears a thing from under that mountain of email rubble 😦

    • 400daystil40

      January 30, 2013 at 00:19

      Hmm, I never even attempted to do anything to resolve my sent box…….

  14. simon7banks

    February 5, 2013 at 19:18

    It’s too easy. To amend Parkinson’s Law (“Work expands to fill the space available for it”): communication expands to fill the space available for it. That said, think of these routine e-mail situations.

    Jane, the meetings secretary of the local Cactus Pursuit Group (or whatever), e-mails all the members in the group about a proposed outing. Seventeen members reply. She acknowledges all replies, if only to say “thanks”. The response being mostly favourable, she e-mails all the group saying there will be a trip to Reykjavik on such and such a date. Who wants to book a place? She gets replies and acknowledges them. Once the committee would have decided on the trip and the rest, without acknowledgement, would have been done by letter.

    Joe, who’s going on holiday with his old friend Sam, e-mails him with a few ideas about the itinerary. Sam replies with other ideas. This easily generates an exchange of six or seven e-mails. It could have been done by one phone conversation, albeit quite a long one.

    • 400daystil40

      February 5, 2013 at 23:35

      Wow, you are so right – I had not thought about this, but it is really true….. what has our world come to? I wonder how we can shrink the communicable spaces in order to give ourselves more of those quiet moments….


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