Declaring e-mail bankruptcy

Today, we turn to the problem of e-mail and the problems faced by people who get too much of it to be able to cope.

A recent USA Today article reports that nearly 40 billion e-mails are sent by people to other people over the Internet every day. Add to that the over 40 billion spam messages and the 17 billion automated alerts that are sent each day, and you end up with a staggering amount of e-mail flooding around the place.

There are some souls who only get a message or two a day and who probably feel quite lonely as a consequence. They should really be pleased, however, because all that e-mail has to go somewhere and it means that there are people out there who are getting more than their fair share.

And that’s even worse than loneliness if you’re one those unfortunates, because all those e-mails want you to do something and, as the recipients soon realise, there isn’t enough time to do it all.

The action required might be anything from just reading the message to replying to it, or buying some BIGDIK tablets at the urging of the odd message which slips past your spam filter.

I’m personally at the stage where I’m just about managing to cope with my incoming mail. Messages asking me to submit my invoice are always answered immediately but others take a bit longer, sometimes up to several weeks (occasionally months), for me to get around to.

I thought I had problems keeping up with my mail but it seems that there are people who have it far, far worse. The e-mail overload has even given rise to a phenomenon which is known as declaring e-mail bankruptcy where badly affected individuals delete the entire contents of their in-boxes and start again from scratch.

I recently became aware of the phenomenon thanks to the blog (no, there are no pictures) where she wrote that she’d first heard of the practice on another blog and seized on it as a solution to her in-box which had ballooned until it held 15000 messages.

In May this year, she apparently moved all the messages older than a month to a separate folder where they were out of sight and out of mind, and then set about organising and dealing with the rest.

The problem of e-mail overload is apparently quite widespread because a lot of people are thinking of ways to overcome it. There are a number of firms in the US, for example, that are beginning to implement e-mail-free days every week, where they take the novel approach of ignoring e-mail and going for face-to-face meetings instead.

A post by Vanessa earlier this month reported that the world did not collapse into a burning inferno because of her mass email extinction and that anyone who actually needed her to reply, had just sent another message.

She does note that things are still better than before her bankruptcy, but that messages are already starting to multiply; maybe she’ll need to repeat the experience annually.

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