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Processing Social Emails

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  • Processing Social Emails

    Often times I get an email from a fried titled something like "This might amuse you.." with an interesting video or article they thought I might like. Other times I get very long emails that are like a transcription of a one way phone conversation.

    The trouble is i am trying to get my inbox to zero and it is not the right time to digest the content. On the other hand I want to say thanks and show that let them know they have been helpful - which means looking at the link for 10 minutes. Also there is a chance the information they have sent is important for me.

    I am finding it difficult to know if (a) I want to look at this content ever, (b) if there will be a time later on when i might like to look at it (c) what do i say to the other person in order to say thanks but not get caught out if they continue to ask me what I liked about it.

    A while ago I used to send things to read later - which i would look at on my iphone when i was waiting in a queue or on a train etc. but I am not sure I would get round to looking at it this way.

  • #2
    I've taken to glancing at emails like this and then just tossing them. Do I really need to see another video of a cat chasing a laser light?

    As far as long emails I will give them the lightest of glance and if for some bizarre reason I need to respond I would keep it brief. ie: "sally, sounds like we might be better off talking one/one about this instead of emailing. How about meeting Friday at 1 or would 3 be better for you?" Or just call and save the hassle.

    I don't need to clog up my life with useless emails.


    • #3
      I put these in Action Support during processing

      During processing, I move these types of emails to the !Action-Support folder.
      Then if it is still there at my next weekly review, I will decide if
      (1) I need to read/review it and add it to my Next Actions list with a reference to the date of the email ("Read CCR's email - Mar 22/13")
      (2) I think I would like to read it and add it to my !Read email folder.
      (3) I decide I'm not going to read it and either delete or move to my reference folder.

      I just got around to looking at a video my aunt sent me almost a year ago - it was in my !Read folder and every week on review I chose to keep it there and I'm glad I did. I had some time to watch it last week and it was worth it. There are a lot of others that I decide at some point to delete or file and not watch and that's ok too.


      • #4
        Can we raise the tone of conversation here?

        Originally posted by timjamesbrennan View Post
        Also there is a chance the information they have sent is important for me.
        The chance is equal to the chance of winning 6 numbers in Lotto (1/13 983 816 in Poland).

        I don't play Lotto and I delete such e-mails immediately.

        Alternatively you can answer with a famous Steve Jobs quote: "Can we raise the tone of conversation here?"


        • #5
          Might work

          I told the people in my life that forward jokes, videos and stuff like that to me that I cut back on my data plan and had to pay a LOT to receive things like this. Most people are FAR too busy to send junk via email these days, but there's always a few people that didn't get THAT memo. Most everyone understands the excuse I give OR they are just a newbie to email (i.e. pretty old) that it just sounds scary and they don't do it anyway.


          • #6
            I try and make filters work for me with things like this. I have a folder called "Tomorrow" and set up filters to move mail there from the following categories:
            • Newsletters
            • Departmental/HR/Corporate email (i.e. not my boss or colleagues)
            • Mail from particularly spammy friends
            • etc.

            None of this stuff is urgent and most of it could be ignored without consequences but some of it is interesting enough to be worth a quick scan. I process it once a day. If I'm particularly busy I glance at the subjects in case there is anything critical and delete the rest. If I'm less busy, I let myself read more of the interesting ones.

            The specific part you are asking about is the "Mail from particularly spammy friends". It depends on a lot of things for me. If they sent it to me and only me then it's probably something that made them think of me. I think that's worth a reply. Friends and family are what makes the rest of life worth it anyway. If it's just a chain letter sent to the entire address book then you won't be the only one not replying.


            • #7
              Originally posted by timjamesbrennan View Post
              Often times I get an email from a fried titled something like "This might amuse you.." with an interesting video or article they thought I might like. Other times I get very long emails that are like a transcription of a one way phone conversation.
              I would create a folder called "Social Emails." Then I'd have a repeating task, "Go through some Social Emails" with a context that's something like "Computer - Mindless". Then I'd wait and see if I ever got around to looking at them, but at least they'd be out of my main inbox.

              If some of them are time-sensitive ("Hey, wanna do something for the 4th of July?") I'd have another folder for those with a less optional task for checking them at intervals.


              • #8
                Usually read

                I've found that 90% of those things are actually important to me eventually. I try to use about 20 minutes of e-mail processing time a day to go to the links and do a quick scan of the material. If it's something I have any hint I may want to watch or read later I use the clip-o-tron to send the mail message to my Omnifocus inbox where I then add it to a project of reading misc notes as an action.

                I also have told repeat offenders of forwards of junk mail that I really can't deal with it.

                Often the quirky and fun things that get sent to me by friends are important ways to stop and smile or take a break so I like to keep them around in a contained place so Ic an use them when I need a change of pace.


                • #9
                  One of the hardest parts of these sorts of emails is the fact you are trying to process them alone.

                  If they being processed as a group activity I think the experience would actually be quite good fun. Brainstorming, exploring new ideas, and having in depth conversations are often difficult for me if I try to process them purely over email. So perhaps the best reply would be, "Thanks for the interesting info, can we have lunch sometime soon to talk about this further?".