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Never look at that email again — Universal Principles

Never look at that email again

When you check your email, do you ever read an item and then mark it as unread again? “I’ll deal with it later”, you say to yourself. I guess you do. Maybe checked your email again later and just skipped that “unread” message again?

In life, pain is inevitable, the suffering is optional..., by tapperboy

Here’s an idea for you. Just look at a piece of email one single time. After that you should have dealt with it. That is, depending on the content, you should have taken some appropriate action, decided it requires no action,  scheduled it for later, or similar.

However, you should never have to look at that email again. Every extra time you look at it is just 1) inefficient, and potentially 2) a guilt trip.

5 comments

1 Karin { December 23, 2009 at 21:41 }

This one I really recognise! I am not completely sure I agree though. Can it not be a part of the planning process, to look at the email and think it through more than once? But maybe I contradict myself, because I can think of several times when it would have been better to take action directly. Maybe it is as simple as to choose the right occasions to unread or not to unread…

2 Henrik Jernevad { December 23, 2009 at 21:49 }

Thanks for your comment! :-)

There are definitely times when an email requires some thinking through, and deciding that it needs time is a proper action in itself. However, after you have taken that action, I think you should move that issue away from the inbox into a “things I need to think about” box.

The important part is to avoid the “I don’t want to deal with this right now, I’ll just ‘unread’ it and pretend i didn’t see it” behavior.

3 Karin { December 23, 2009 at 21:57 }

I get the feeling that the “things I need to think about” box will be just as big a guilt trip as the unread message ^^ But maybe it is better to collect all the guilt in the same place?

4 Henrik Jernevad { December 23, 2009 at 22:02 }

I guess you’re right, there. It could definitely become a “guilt box”. In the end, you will have to find a system which works for you. What I have experienced is that once you start to really think about what to do with an email message, the solution is very simple. You typically send a very simple reply, add something to your calendar, or (most commonly) really doesn’t do anything at all. :-)

5 Karin { December 23, 2009 at 22:03 }

True =)