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September 05, 2007

"E-mail immunity" vs etiquette

[This is a new category of posts for this blog, which I'll tag "GTD." GTD is a reference to David Allen's book Getting Things Done. It's become a productivity meme among knowledge workers who must work more efficiently with their increasingly busier inboxes of various forms. E-mail seems to be the most difficult to deal with.]

The Web Worker Daily has this quote:

In the afterword to The Tipping Point in paperback, Malcolm Gladwell predicts that people will become immune to email over time: “the more email we get, the shorter and more selective and more delayed our responses become. These are the symptoms of immunity.”

There's a viral video of Merlin Mann
, a GTD'er who has his own productivity Web site 43 Folders, where he's speaking at Google about the concept of the "Inbox Zero" for e-mail. These are a series of techniques of making sure that you keep your in box empty as quickly as you can by acting on the messages at the moment you scan them. (As it happens, this video became popular because of Merlin's PowerPoint technique.)

In regards to the Gladwell quote, Merlin suggests writing no more than 5 sentences for each e-mail response, while having something in your signature line saying that it is your policy to stick to this rule despite the importance of the response. This way no one should get offended.

Seems like a workable solution.


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