March 3, 2014

Instead of Inbox Zero, How About Outbox Zero

inbox-zeroIf I ever have to switch careers, I want to become a full-time writer.

I know, on average it pays less than what I currently earn — at least according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics — where the average salary is $55,940 and there is an increase of only 3% more writer roles expected to be posted by 2022. But I don’t care.

Why a writer?

Well, I love it. I may not be good at it, but I truly love it.

Secondly, I love reading. Be it books, articles, poems … and yes, even research reports. When combining all that reading with my true passion for writing, it’s a purpose-match made in heaven.

This got me thinking. I hate writing and reading emails.

Weird, I know. But I truly hate it.

The reasons are plentiful, but I’d like to suggest something for all of us.

Why don’t we try for Outbox Zero as opposed to Inbox Zero.

Originally suggested by Merlin Mann, Inbox Zero is as it sounds; an empty email inbox. Of Inbox Zero, Mann states:

“Clearly, the problem of email overload is taking a toll on all our time, productivity, and sanity, mainly because most of us lack a cohesive system for processing our messages and converting them into appropriate actions as quickly as possible.”

Yes. Email has a choke hold over our productivity, our days and our sanity.

Remember that point above about me loving to read? Each year, I find myself sourcing the latest on email statistics, data and forecasts from The Radicati Group. The report they put together in 2013 was, well … astounding. A few highlights:

  • the majority of email traffic comes from business email, which accounts for over 100 billion emails sent and received per day (egads)
  • business email will account for over 132 billion emails sent and received per day by the end of 2017 (oh joy)
  • total number of worldwide email accounts is expected to increase from nearly 3.9 billion accounts in 2013 to over 4.9 billion accounts by the end of 2017 (good grief)

It doesn’t get better. A McKinsey and Company research report suggested 28% of time by all workers/employees is consumed … in the inbox, reading and answering emails.

That’s about a day and a half a week.

Soul crushing.

If I have to become a full-time writer, I promise not to write (and send) unnecessary emails. My target will be one per day. (because I will be writing so many books and articles, how will I have time to write emails?)

As I continue, however, in my current career path, I’m going to more consciously think about the number of emails I am actually sending. I am going to try to achieve Outbox Zero. (or as close to it as possible)

The quest shouldn’t be Inbox Zero. That’s looking at things the wrong way, backwards even. Inbox Zero is simply pushing water uphill with a pitchfork. The quest should be that each of us — as peers in the digital agora — subscribe to Outbox Zero and lessen the load on each others inbox.

Outbox Zero is my next personal challenge.

Maybe you can try it too?

PS. To help combat the onslaught of email, I did devise a system called DADDIO that may interest you as might a story I wrote called, “Email, A Love Story“.

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