Mailing Lists

I’m a member of a few mailing lists, TechWR, IAI, ISTC, Framers, WebWorks, to name but a few. Add in several high volume internal mailing lists and my email count easily tops out at a couple of hundred a day.

Naturally I filter all of these into folders, and not all are read, but it still takes a large portion of my time to manage my email. As such, I’m constantly looking for better ways to handle my email load (I’ve managed ‘inbox zero’ at home but not at work, yet) and recently I’ve found myself tempted to follow a recent suggestion by Merlin Mann, namely the “Trusted (and lazy) email filter”:

For a very noisy, high-volume list, filter all messages except those by 2-3 people whom you really respect. When those people chime in, catch up with what theyโ€™re responding to โ€” chances are good you havenโ€™t missed much and can use their appearance to get up to speed.

I already have a few names, from the TechWR list, in mind. If you are on that list, I’d be interested to hear who YOU’D filter on and, in the spirit of sharing, here is my starter list (I’m sure I’ll have missed some people, so please be assured that not to be included is no slight): Chris Borokowski, John Posada, Dori Green, Bill Swallow and Gene Kim.

The only slight problem is that these people are probably THE most active people on the list, so it’s not really that much of a filter…

(thought: perhaps there is also a negative filter that could be applied. When X replies to a thread you can safely start deleting emails from it?? hmmmm)

I’ve yet to try this as I seem to have an irrational fear that I’ll miss that nugget of wisdom or piece of information that I’ve been searching for… although as I don’t currently know what it is I’m searching for, it’s a little hard to placate my inner pessimist. However it does seem like a good method to help you if you are, like so many of us, informationally overloaded.

What do you think? Do you have any hints or tips on managing large numbers of possibly useful or relevant emails? How many do you receive in an average day and how much time do you spend (waste?) processing them?


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