My e-mail breeds. I have a couple of companies - and each has its own domain and e-mail. Then, there’s this domain, which I use for my personal mail. I’m an Apple guy - so there’s an obligatory iCloud address too. A client has me on their exchange server, and my studies have given me another exchange address.
It’s not just my email. My hardware profligates too. I have a desktop, a laptop, an iPad and a phone.
So - what email accounts should be available on which hardware? And available how? Not exactly the biggest problem that the world faces right now, but one that exercises me, nevertheless. It was bothering me back in 2015 too.
Much of my mail comes from mailing lists and is, well, non-urgent. To tame it, I use SaneBox, which allows me to “train” mail of certain types to automatically go to specific folders.
Sanebox is great - but it does effectively triple my inboxes. The idea is, that SaneLater, and SaneNews are folders that I can safely ignore until I’m ready to catch up. However, that’s mostly how I want to treat all my e-mail. If we assume that I want to check in daily on everything - then I have three folders per account. So, 18 boxes to click on, check and action to do a complete sweep.
Discounting spam, which generally gets filtered out, I’m receiving an average of 80 to 100 mails a day. The vast majority of them do not require any action from me. They are receipts, bills, and newsletters. Some need simply to be archived, which I imagine I might be able to automate, and I need to be honest with myself about how many newsletters I can read.
There’s a real advantage to dedicating domains to distinct applications. That way, if I’m working on Lime, I’m not distracted by mail in Nero’s. While I could keep all the accounts in one app, it becomes cumbersome, with long lists of folders, many of them duplicates, as each account has “Sent”, “Trash” and the like.
HQ. The desktop machine is my nerve centre. I want everything here. This is where things are stored and backed up. I try to use this machine as my primary one for work.
iPhone. My friend and podcast co-host, Justin, doesn’t have mail on his phone. Part of me wants to emulate that. However, I’m reminded of phone calls from colleagues or clients that begin, “Have you seen my e-mail?” If I’m just coming off the golf course, it’s nice to be able to check my mail and go back to them. Writing that last sentence, it occurs to me that the solution is to respond, “No. I haven’t. What’s up?” Would clients or colleagues object? More importantly, isn’t it my right to decide when I’m “online” and when I’m not? The other objection that I have, is that I often clear my e-mail on the couch, after the day is done. This is when I’ll read those newsletters. Perhaps, I need to change that. Shouldn’t I be present in the moment? Disconnected from my e-mail? You people should be charging me for this. It’s like therapy. I guess there might be some hiccups. Perhaps I’ll need to do a password reset or something, but I’ll cross that bridge if I get to it. I’m going to remove all but my personal e-mail from my phone.
Laptop. I try not to use this machine for too much work. I have the desktop for that. The laptop is for writing, and studying. However, it’s also my travel companion, and needs to be able to stand in for HQ when I’m on the road. So here, I’ll mirror HQ, but keep the work apps off the dock. Out of sight, out of mind.
iPad. Increasingly, this is a consumption machine. This is where I’ll catch up with those newsletters, read magazines and the like. It does serve for the odd Zoom call and the like too - details of which almost always come by e-mail, so I suspect corporate mail will remain here too, for the moment.
I thought I was writing about e-mail, but it turns out I was writing about my relationship with my devices and with work. By removing work e-mail from my phone, I am confirming that e-mail is asynchronous. I’ll check it when I’m at my computer, and not at all during evenings and weekends. This conclusion fits a theme I’m seeing at the moment. I mean, it’s obvious, isn’t it? And yet…why aren’t I doing it?
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