Browsing around, I came across this article, “Preventing drowning in e-mail.” This is a really nice little article because it is something that I could probably assign in a class I’m teaching next semester, and also because it’s pretty much true for just about everyone I know. To quote:
White-collar professionals spend much of their work lives swapping reports, transcripts, computer files, databases and links to Web pages – all via e-mail. These documents are typically stored in their inboxes and folders, though researchers say some computer users are afraid to shunt e-mail into electronic files because they might forget it.
That means the main desktop computer workspace for many employees is the inbox, and the inbox is an undifferentiated column of e-mail: urgent assignments from the boss; hotel receipts from business trips; correspondence from colleagues on long-term initiatives; notes from spouses requesting a milk pickup on the way home; feedback from supervisors on ongoing projects; reminders about the company picnic; and various dubious business and other propositions, or spam.
Besides striking me as “true,” it also is a bit of a problem at places like EMU. Long story short: most folks I know here haven’t figured out how to configure their email so that it downloads to a particular computer. And to make matters worse, the new system either has cut down on the amount of space that people get in their in-boxes or something. The result is that emails I send to colleagues at EMU bounces back all of the time because of inboxes full of all of the stuff mentioned in that quoted passage. Only now, with the “new and improved” software installed last week, it seems worse than before.