A new two-minute rule for email

Tuesday, November 14th, 2006
Yesterday, I spent 12 hours processing 117 emails in one client folder alone. This was the second pass at my in-box and these were the hard emails - the ones I had dragged there because I knew they would take more than 2 minutes to complete. I finally went to bed with an empty folder, in fact I deleted the folder. This morning, my SameTime IM window popped up with a message from my colleague, Robert Peake, the unwilling recipient of many of the emails I had sent the day earlier. Here's the transcript:
Robert:  been processing email lately?
Eric:       Yeah. I started my "DavidCo - to process folder" at 10:00
           am yesterday and finished at 11:30 PM last night.
Eric:        I hesitate to even look in my email today to see all the
            responses. :-)
Robert: That's the problem with email
Robert: That's why I use my new interpretation of the two-minute
           rule: if an email takes more than two minutes to respond
           to, I delete it. :)
Eric:       Ooooo I like that. Can I quote that on my blog?
Robert: You betcha
Eric:        You watch!
Robert:  oh dear.
I hope you caught that. A subtle adaptation of David Allen's two-minute rule that has the potential to revolutionize the way we handle email:
"if an email takes more than two minutes to respond to, I delete it."
So, Robert, that's how you stay on top of your email while the rest of us are drowning! I decided to try this new rule for myself. I've just deleted a bunch of your emails that would have taken me more than two minutes to process. If it's important enough, I know you'll write back. OK, just kidding, but...

My in-box is now empty.

I feel MUCH better.

Thanks, Robert!  

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