I went looking for a specific e-mail in my work e-mail account today and realized that I had somewhere north of 850 messages in my Inbox. Now, granted, I’ve got like 5000 and counting in my Gmail, but they specifically promote Gmail as a means to achieving the glorious futuristic vision of never deleting an e-mail ever. MS Outlook, on the other hand, tends to get pretty cranky when so encumbered, and now that I think about it, it’s been opening slower and slower lately.
To a certain extent this all goes right along with the slackness inherent in my job. If I had a lot going on, major things expected of me and major deadlines I needed to stay on top of, I’d probably run my Outlook inbox as a much tighter ship (and be a bit more organized in general). But it’s not that detrimental to slack off on the e-mail around here, sadly, and thus I end up where I am today. I actually deleted about 50 supremely old messages today, and maybe I’ll try to delete/organize another 50 a day for the next few weeks and see how it goes. It’s always good to have an extra busywork project or three which help me look busy when I’m really sick of my usual busywork projects.
In my own defense I should also point out that a lot of e-mail tends to build up in my inbox at work because that’s just kind of the way that government agencies do things. The IT department sets up an overabundance of mailing lists and groups within Outlook and people abuse them pretty regularly. I’m constantly getting policy memos and informational missives which really only apply to the military and/or government civilian employees of the agency (not the parallel universe of contractors which I inhabit) but because my e-mail address is associated with the “ALL” group for the agency the messages find their way to me regardless. Every once in a while the messages truly do apply to me, so I feel obligated to let them all stay put in my inbox until I have time to read through them later. Has the IT department addressed this fairly common annoyance to the best of their ability and set up “agency – military only” and “agency – government civilians” and “agency – contractors” mail groups? Of course they have, but making optimal use of those would require people to think about what they were writing and who their intended audience should be. And that’s not going to happen any time soon.