Managing Your Life and Your Inbox

With the sheer volume of email that piles into inboxes these days, it is interesting to note how different individuals choose to handle the onslaught. Much like different personality types, inbox management styles reflect a certain aspect of a person’s individual character. Most likely, the way that you manage your inbox will have direct comparisons to the way that you manage your life.

Managing Your Email InboxHave you ever met a perfectionist who micromanaged every detail of his life? Imagine that person’s inbox. Is it likely that he would allow even one email to slip through the cracks and get lost in the depths of his filing system? Not very. Instead, he carefully observes each email that lands in the box, quickly responds, deletes, or categorizes it, and returns to his lengthy list of daily responsibilities. Obviously, this individual’s personality is reflected in his inbox management style.

On the other hand, consider the compulsive procrastinator. Surely you know one or two of these – you know who they are – people who can’t seem to keep dates straight, living life by the seat of their pants, finding information only as they need it. Now imagine this person’s inbox. Most likely he has not deleted an email in over a year, 98% are unopened, and 90% are spam. His life and his cyber world happily replicate each other as he goes on with life unbothered by the disorganization.

The majority of people will fall into neither one of these extreme categories. Instead, they land somewhere in between them, likely leaning more toward one extreme than the other. What can be learned from this person’s inbox? More than you may realize. From his inbox you can learn if he is a packrat, archiving every email that isn’t spam. You may find out that she prefers more direct forms of communication as you observe that she replies to one in every twelve emails that she receives. It is even possible that you may discover an individual’s bad habit of ignoring important information. Just like personality differences, the differences in inbox management strategies can be astounding.

Personality quirks are certainly reflected in how a person manages their email inbox. Want to learn a few things about your employee? Your girlfriend? Your spouse? Take a quick peek over their shoulder while they check their email. That momentary glance may shed quite a bit of light on how the individual approaches managing their life.