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Land of 10,000 Messages

March 21, 2008 – by Per Christensson

I was recently going through the mailboxes in my e-mail program and noticed my Sent box had just over 10,000 messages in it. "Wow, that's a lot," I thought to myself. It means I have written and sent over 10,000 messages in the past 5 years (since I started saving messages back in 2003). That number breaks down to over 2,000 messages per year, 38 per week, or about 5.5 messages per day.

Considering I often feel like my life revolves around e-mail, I found this number to be surprisingly low. 10,000 is a big number, but five or six messages per day is pretty manageable. After all, who doesn't have time to send five e-mails per day? But then I started to think about it a little more. What about those days when I don't send any e-mails? (Yes, even I take a weekend off here and there.) Or what if I am gone on a trip for a few days? If I miss three days of e-mail, the next day I will have around 20 messages to reply to. That can start to become overwhelming, especially if there are several other tasks I need to do during the day.

In November of last year, I wrote an update about how to avoid e-mail bankruptcy. I had finally cleaned out my Inbox and was once again up-to-date with my e-mail. I also set a goal to continually stay on top of my e-mail. So far, I am happy to say I have done pretty well. I seldom have more than 30 messages in my Inbox and I respond to most messages within a few days. My recent discovery of how many messages I send on a daily basis reminded me that managing my e-mail is possible. More importantly, it proves that e-mail doesn't have to control my life. And if I can keep my e-mail in check, I bet you can too.

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