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7 Deadly E-Mail Sins

This might come off as a bit harsh but anybody who wants to learn how to be more organized and productive needs to know how to effectively manage his or her email account. Most are in denial when the truth is, when it comes to controlling the flow of mail and knowing what to pay attention to, you are in email hell.

You got here because you've committed at least one (and probably all) of the Deadly Sins of Email. But it's not too late. There's still time to repent and rise up to email Heaven – that magical place where “You've got mail” is still a good thing.

1: Denying that you're a sinner

This is the biggest sin of all.  As you're staring at your overflowing inbox, admit that something went terribly wrong and you won't be able to handle the daily barrage of emails you subject yourself to each day. You don't have the patience, attention span, or mastery of multi-tasking to understand all that is put in front of you. Now that you're no longer in denial, you can do something about it.

2. Gluttony: getting caught up in email and losing sight of priorities

Determine how much time you want to spend in your Inbox on a given day, and don't exceed it. This time frame can be determined by how many crucial emails on average you receive each day. Email is just one part of work. It's also reactive by nature.  Unless you're doing customer support, you can't succeed when you're reactive.

3: Wrath: punishing your neighbor by wasting their time

By not following the rules set out in the Email Charter, you're seriously mistreating your friends and coworkers. It's a long list of 10 very specific things, and you should do all of them.  Always remember the Golden Rule of Email: the more email you send, the more you get back. (We found a correlation between emails sent and emails received in our own data).

4: No pride: punishing yourself by wasting your time

Don't treat every email like it deserves your attention because not all of it does. Some emails need to be read and responded to right away. Some can wait. Others archived or deleted in bulk. Only read what you know requires your immediate attention and response, and then you can have time to see what the other useless emails are actually about when your day is complete.

5. Greed: signing up for stuff you don't need

Stop signing up for newsletters you're never going to read.  Less is more. There are easier paths to saving money or knowing which new, interesting products are available to your liking. It's tempting, but that's the internet is there for.

6. Sloth: being lazy and not following Inbox Zero rules

Don't open the same email twice. Delete (or archive), Delegate (forward), Respond, Defer or Do are the only possible outcomes. Anything else wastes time. This could be the hardest of the sins to overcome – it requires lots of discipline and can seem impossible at first. You must power through it.

7. Envy: when a friend tweets “Inbox Zero!” don't send him an email

That's just mean, and you deserve to be in email hell!

Sanebox | Elite. 

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Jessica Fritz

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