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Inbox infinity

Will the latest craze of letting your emails pile up solve inbox anxiety?

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It wasn’t too long ago that email zen masters preached how the only way to reach inbox nirvana is to deal with every single email.

However, we read yesterday morning of the latest trend: inbox infinity. Rather than maintaining inbox zero, inbox infinity encourages us to accept that the number of emails in our inbox will pile up (I think I've used this method for a while now...). Inbox infinity followers set up custom out of office responders to set expectations or publicly admitting that they have too many emails to handle and suggest other ways of contacting them. 

Gone is the guilt of not answering every email, and instead you can just let the deluge of emails wash over you. This frees you up to stop wasting time with emails and instead focus on other work.

Emails have become an endless task for practitioners. As our regular Practice Talk series demonstrates, practitioners are checking their emails throughout the night, often chasing that elusive inbox zero.   

Would letting go of emails work for in a modern day accountancy practice? Could you get away with accepting emails will pile up?

Replies (17)

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By tom123
15th Jan 2019 08:53

The problem for me is filtering out the invoices which actually have a task associated with them (ie 'work') and the conversational ones.

I tend to split my incoming messages into ones from staff, and ones from non staff.

The staff ones tend to get more attention, tbh.

Thanks (0)
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
15th Jan 2019 09:37

I work in customer services environment, so no I cant just ignore everyone.

its also a very selfish thing to do, as it forces the emailer to then email several times or call you, wasting a lot of time.

Thanks (3)
By TaxTeddy
15th Jan 2019 09:03

It's just too risky to adopt a policy of letting emails build up.

What would your PI insurers say when you missed a crucial deadline because the client email was buried in a mass of social media update notices?

Discipline is needed in a professional environment. I put on my 'Nike' expression and 'just do it'.

Thanks (2)
By bernard michael
15th Jan 2019 09:31

I just clear mine @ 9.30 and 2.00 daily . That keeps them down to approx 40 per session and I find this is manageable. That includes the AWEB answers

Thanks (0)
By Duggimon
15th Jan 2019 09:35

I answer every email sent to me to which a response is needed. If you get to the point where that isn't practical or possible then the issue that needs addressed isn't how you manage your inbox, it's why you're getting more in than you can manage.

The work required to respond to these mails needs to be delegated, pushed back or otherwise refused, I think an auto response saying "I actually get a lot of email and probably won't reply, or even read this" is counterproductive, rude and pointless.

What if everyone in receipt of that message decided to phone instead? Presumably the ones to which you are responding actually need your input so they'll have to get in touch with you somehow, why automatically put people off so they'll try an even less convenient way of grabbing your time?

Thanks (2)
By Justin Bryant
15th Jan 2019 10:11

I had a busy friend who adopted the same approach to constantly interrupting phone calls and had his phone on constant v-mail so calls could be filtered. He soon stopped being busy and indeed was suddenly not busy enough through lack of work.

The inescapable fact is that nowadays clients expect prompt service and that means promptly dealing with all their emails/phone calls and they expect nothing less.

Thanks (2)
15th Jan 2019 10:53

This is one of the daftest suggestions I've ever read on this site. You may as well have an auto-reply saying 'I am utterly incompetent at managing my practice, so please take your business elsewhere'.

Thanks (4)
Hallerud at Easter
15th Jan 2019 11:20

Whilst I go through mine and respond every day my filing e mails post event can be interesting, every so often I sort by sender/subject and file /delete them otherwise they spend a fair time in inbox and sent.

Paper at work gets the same approach, things that need action go in one heap, rest stays in a mountain on the left of my desk, when mountain gets too big bottom half of it chucked in a box below my desk, when box gets full it is marked with dates and thrown in filing room, every so often some of filing room old stuff sent for shredding.

Thanks (0)
By Duggimon
15th Jan 2019 12:11

I just read the article about it, these people are idiots. What they need isn't an auto-response and some sort of zen way of thinking about things, it's to stop being so lazy and unsubscribe/filter/block/switch off the emails they're getting that they never read.

The people who have hundreds of thousands of unread emails are not people who are astonishingly busy and in high demand, they're just receiving marketing and notifications from absolutely everything they ever sign up for, and none of it is necessary, bin the lot and answer your proper emails.

Thanks (3)
By Counting numbers
15th Jan 2019 13:58

Inbox infinity... never! I read everything as it comes in and try to reply that day or within 24 hours if possible. However, the rule changes whilst on holiday with family. I limit my phone use significantly and rarely reply to any emails unless urgent.

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By Matrix
15th Jan 2019 14:32

Ah, I wondered why some clients were so rubbish at replying to emails.

Thanks (1)
By andy.partridge
15th Jan 2019 14:37

I don't recognise the problem.

Thanks (0)
Jennifer Adams
By Jennifer Adams
15th Jan 2019 16:06

I use a programme named Mailwasher.
It takes in all the emails and sorts out the junk from the real stuff automatically.
Anything not from a contact (such as adverts/HMRC updates etc) is given one email address to send to. Everyone else has my personal email.
I look at my emails twice a day.
If I need peace (such as when I write an article for Accweb!) then I do an automated ' I'm here... I'll look at your email but cant promise full response until...'.
I used to do rules where a clients name could be recognised and put into their own folder but I found that I forget that I hadnt dealt with them and they would just sit there.

Thanks (1)
Replying to Jennifer Adams:
By Tomazaan
19th Jan 2019 14:50

Another vote for Mailwasher. It has transformed my life.
There is a free version for iPads but it does not work as well as the paid for version for desktops.

Thanks (0)
15th Jan 2019 18:39

I use MAPiLap, great little outlook addin, creates template responses, schedule chase emails and lots of other really useful tricks.

Other than that (as others have said) lunch and home time, never first thing when you are at your most productive.

I always respond, unless I want to loose the client or its a mortgage advisor chasing for yet another copy of the income information you have sent three times already in various forms

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By marks
17th Jan 2019 00:03

Will look at emails when I come into office to see what has come in from night before but then I dont look again generally until after lunch.

Usually spend from 1 - 2 pm then 5 - 6 pm replying to emails. Just work through on FIFO basis.

Used to get over 100 emails a day but now unsubscribe to all the advertising ones and facebook/linkedin/twitter ones and any others that can unsubscribe too which means now cut to probably about 40 - 50 a day. (which does include notifications re companies house filings/tax authorisation code notices expiring.)

Usually respond to emails within 2 days and if merits a follow up will bcc a appropriate reminder eg 3 days, 1 week, 1 month or whenever want to follow it up.

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By atleastisoundknowledgable...
17th Jan 2019 07:40

I’d love to never answer emails. I might find that I lose 90% of clients and spend all day on the phone speaking to the remaining 10%.

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