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2022 Summer Holidays - Out of Office Poem

Andrew Treloar, Mending Email

With apologies to Robert Frost and his poem Mending Wall

Something there is that doesn't love email,
that sends the endless spam-swell to it
and clogs our Inbox with its useless dross
and makes it hard to find what should be read.
The work of colleagues is another thing:
I've seen their messages come pouring in
where they would rather hit Reply to All
than call and talk about what irks them now.
Email is good, sometimes, but dealing with
The flow demands intentionality.
So summer beckoning, I stop, take stock
And think how best to start next year afresh.
It sometimes feels as if I am not one but two
The one is driven by the need to read it all
The other focussed only on what must be done.
And so these warring halves must work together,
Rebuild my email practice for the year to come.
The spell I use for email balance starts with Ds.
Delete the things that don't spark email joy.
Review those emails that are sent through lists.
Do I still care enough or should I Unsubscribe?
Next comes those emails I keep "just in case"
The ones I know will never see the light of screen again.
Here Archive is my strongest tool.
The message is still there to bring back on request
But now my Inbox has a little room to breathe.
I am not an island, I have colleagues who can share the load.
Delegate to them and forward on the mail
A little context added and the task is theirs.
Some things can bide, and sometimes are thereby improved
My brain needs time to slowly work the ideas through
Or I have other far more pressing tasks.
Defer the email via Snooze and wait for it again
And then what's left? The urgent things and those that must be done.
The former often take more time to leave undone.
The way to ease the mental load is Do, avoid delay.
The things that must be done, turn into Tasks
The system will remember and then bring them
To you in their turn. Your energy can go elsewhere.
And so, by stepping back and making change
My email is my servant, not my master
And I no longer feel the mental weight
Of countless messages unread confronting me.
Perhaps the same might work for you?
Remind yourself: "good email makes good colleagues".