1993: When Life was Much Simpler

Someone recently mentioned an interview I had done on CNBC, back in 1993.  It was about time management.  Reading an excerpt from the interview transcript in light of the problem we face today of information overload is telling,

CNBC reporter: It’s not just meetings that are taking up a ton of time, there’s also a problem with mail.  And in this day and age, mail means e-mail.  You think you’re busy?  Consultant Jonathan Spira can get 150 e-mails a day!

Spira: It can be just overwhelming because you don’t want to have a really important one that sneaks in that doesn’t get addressed.

CNBC reporter: Here is his answer to the problem.  He uses an electronic filter built into Lotus Notes that prioritizes his e-mail.  Mail from certain people goes into a priority file, while others go to the lesser priority files he reads at his leisure.

I guess I yearn for a time when I only received 150 e-mails per day.  Nowadays, one can get 150 e-mails before noon.  That trick of prioritizing e-mail that I used to use?  Doesn’t work today.  One trend I’ve noticed with my e-mail is that there are so many senders who have legitimate reasons to send me an e-mail, I couldn’t possibly whitelist them all.

One vast improvement in my Lotus Notes inbox, contrasted with the 1993 version, is the use of visual clues associated with e-mail such as the blue dot that is solid if the e-mail is addressed only to me, half full if the e-mail is addressed to me and one other person, and the outline of a circle if there are multiple recipients.  I can easily zoom in on “blue” mail as the likelihood is far greater that it’s something I need to look at.

Jonathan B. Spira is CEO and Chief Analyst at Basex.

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