New York Times talks about e-mail tsunamis, profiles Mike Arrington, and misses the point

Filed as Features on April 19, 2008 9:42 pm

Sunday’s New York Times is carrying a story discussing TechCrunch as their primary “victim” of email overload.

And there’s the usual talk of email bankruptcy, folks who go out and delete all of their email, and so on, and so on, and so on.

Yes, we’ve heard all of this before – and we’ve heard it alot recently.

In fact, earlier this week I wrote a post outlining how Darren Rowse went from 10,000+ emails down to ‘Inbox Zero’ in a single weekend.

Now, I understand email. I get anywhere from 300 – 400 emails daily to my various mailboxes – and I’m currently engaged with a client that singlehandedly produces another 150-200 emails a day (Welcome to the world of Program Management at a Fortune 100 Company.. anyways) – so I’m having to dig through alot of email each day.

According to the NY Times though, Arrington’s situation might be just a tad bit more difficult:

E-MAIL has become the bane of some people’s professional lives. Michael Arrington, the founder of TechCrunch, a blog covering new Internet companies, last month stared balefully at his inbox, with 2,433 unread e-mail messages, not counting 721 messages awaiting his attention in Facebook.

Mr. Arrington might be tempted to purge his inbox and start afresh — the phrase “e-mail bankruptcy” has been with us since at least 2002. But he declares e-mail bankruptcy regularly, to no avail. New messages swiftly replace those that are deleted unread.

The Times article goes on to discuss technological inventions, secretaries, and then eventually lands on the example of H. L. Mencken and his approach to dealing with postal mail. Which is really not the metaphor that I think we’re all looking for.

There have been enough articles in the blogosphere on effective ways to manage email that I’m surprised that this is the approach that the New York Times chose to take. Let’s take a look at some articles outlining effective ways to handle this much email:

These are just some examples of individual’s personal experiences implementing tools & methods to get control of their email.

In the end, it’s down to how you discipline yourself and use the tools that are at your disposal in order to make yourself productive. And that’s the point that I believe the New York Times really missed.

What are your email productivity tools?

Update: Ross Mayfield makes some great points about this issue on his blog..

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  1. By Grant D Griffiths posted on April 19, 2008 at 10:44 pm
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    Exactly. If you use the tools and make yourself take care of things, there is no reason you can’t keep control over your email. I switched to an all Gmail approach to handling my email and I keep control of over 250 emails a day. Just one more example of the mainstream media blowing crap way out of whack.

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  2. By Robin posted on April 19, 2008 at 11:11 pm
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    Mainstream media has become stalker on bloggers not the other way around that mainstream people has recognized most of the times.

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  3. By amypalko posted on April 20, 2008 at 5:30 am
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    I’m hearing great things about Nick Cernis’ Inbox Heaven. Looking forward to putting it into practice for myself!

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  4. By Bankruptcy - Debt settlement posted on September 30, 2009 at 1:44 am
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    I too hearing only good thing about Inbox Heaven. Cheers

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