Remember how they said that technology was going to make our lives easier? I am at a loss as to how to manage my work-related email. And I am not on any of those list where people circulate jokes. I have moved all of my “current awareness” to RSS. I have a separate personal email account, so friendly correspondance and advertisements from places where I have shopped online go there. I even have a system for managing email. I log in before work in the morning and quickly go through all of my new mail, flagging things for follow-up, and deleting everything I can. I repeat the process around lunch time and again before I go home. Sometime during the day I try to deal with flagged items.
But the sheer volume is overwhelming. Last week I was out of town at a professional meeting and received an email message with my budget information included. I can’t “flag” messages when I am using the web client. I was online every day during my absence from the library, and did my best to keep my mailbox organized and up to date. But by the time I returned to the library on Monday, the Andover “pace of life” took over and my budget information got buried. I found it on Wednesday afternoon. Unfortunately, I also found out that it was due on Wednesday. This morning, I “emptied” my deleted mail. I do this weekly. There were 897 items.
I am a librarian, and so one of my skill sets is organization, but I am ready to concede defeat. Email has taken over my reading life, and it is not my favorite genre of reading. Because I never finish it before I leave work at the end of the day, I have gradually increased the time that I spend at home reading it. Given the time that it takes, I barely keep up with a daily newspaper and I feel guilty whenever I pick up a book.
The light at the end of the tunnel is that spring break is coming soon. The library is open, and I will work during spring break, but the volume of email slows to a manageable level when other people are on vacation. One of my fantasies is to take an entire day over spring break just to read. I’d begin the day with an unhurried reading of the New York Times (via TimesReader) followed by a leisurely reading of the current New Yorker. Then I’d move along to a non-fiction book (in print) followed by a few hours of absorption in a fiction selection (on an ereader.) I’d follow that all up by listening to a downloadable audiobook while riding a stationary bicycle and dreaming of spring and a utopian future without email.