Sunday, November 26, 2006


I really work my email hard - I hate a scrollbar and when it appears on my inbox, it is time to fix it.  Right now I have six things in there

  • an email from my mom (sort of gotta pay attention to that one)
  • an email to review a document early next week
  • an email to remind me to ship some books
  • an email to have me review some material for a webcast in January
  • an email to remind me my next column draft is due on the 29th
  • an email to remind me to fax a "you may release my material" form to a user group

By the end of Monday - the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th should be deleted... Hopefully the same will be said about the new lot of email that comes in.  I have a very simple set of rules:

  • when new mail arrives read it and either
    • respond immediately and delete it
    • if it is about some event - file it into the folder named after the date of the event (eg: 20061214 - December 14, 2006) and the event itself, for example 20061214_NYOUG for the New York OUG event I'll speak at
    • if it is something I have to do - but cannot do right now this minute, let it stay in the inbox

It is that last item that causes all of the problems - when there are too many "to do" items in my inbox.  That is why I avoid the scroll bar - if it appears, I have more than 15-20 items in there and that is just too many to-do's to do.  So, I keep it small.  If something slips off the end - I might scroll down to it and reply to it (usually reply to it again actually, I replied the first time saying something like "I got your email and will pay attention to it soon") saying I don't know if I'll be able to get to this.

Anyway, I stumbled on this more comprehensive list of email "stuff".

#5 is of course my all time favorite.  "they may give the impression of childishness and illiteracy".  Indeed!

Many good ones in there, a few "eh, I'm not sure about that".  There are a lot of them to read - but the best are mostly up front.



Blogger Rachel said....

Number 2 ranks highest on my list. I hate when someone sends out an infinite "to" or "cc" list and then releases my email address to all and sundry. I'm a BIG fan of BCC

Numbers 4 and 10 rank high on my list as well.

See you in NY!

Sun Nov 26, 04:36:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

For work related e-mail, I do not like BCC. It looks like the sender is trying to hide the recipients and is not being honest about the communication. I once worked for a company where BCC on work related e-mail was prohibited and could invite disciplinary action. I agree. For personal e-mails, BCC is bliss.

Another lesson that I have learned at work is to never say anything negative about a co-worker or anything in e-mail. Just state facts in a business like manner. No opinions or emotions.

On a lighter note, the author has started the article questioning why there are no formal e-mail etiquettes, something like saying hello on picking up the phone. Maybe there are 99 of them to remember, that is why!!

Sun Nov 26, 07:28:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Michael Olin said....

Yes! Now we know how to get Rachel to come to our NYOUG meetings.

Tom - You'll be receiving a proposed schedule of all NYOUG meetings for the remainder of the decade sometime after the new year. Please reply with your availability to speak (or attend, I think Rachel would be inclined to show up even if you were just an attendee) at one (or more, as your schedule permits) meeting per year.

Looking forward to seeing BOTH of you in NY! Don't forget, it's Dr. Paul's last dance!


Sun Nov 26, 07:43:00 PM EST  

Blogger Rachel said....

Tom -- My apologies for hijacking your blog for a moment

Michael -- who said I was coming to the meeting?

To get back on the thread...

There are reasons to use BCC at work. I used to send things to my home email address, I'd bcc that address because I didn't want to give it out.

Occasionally there are discussions in email that you might want to save a record of.... outside the corporate mail server.

Sun Nov 26, 10:12:00 PM EST  

Blogger Sidhu said....


I also use the same strategy always gives tension when scroll bar appears in the is like burden...and emptying the inbox gives relaxation ;)

Mon Nov 27, 02:11:00 AM EST  

Blogger Dimitri Gielis said....

Thank you for this post Tom!

I hope a lot of people will consider to follow your rules... nothing "frustrates" me more then not having a reply for weeks!

I've been always impressed by the speed you (as a very busy person) reply to your mails.

Mon Nov 27, 05:21:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Michael Olin said....

I prefer setting up recipient lists rather than blind copying everyone. That way everyone can see that the message was sent to the "People Who Forward Me Jokes" group, without disclosing the addresses of everyone in the group.

Another cautionary tale about using the corporate email servers: I know of a recent incident where someone sent a "3 more hours until I go on vacation" email from work and called in sick the next day (Friday). Management was reviewing the email stream because of a completely unrelated matter and came across the vacation message. Oops!

Mon Nov 27, 07:09:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Ntwiga said....

Might be preaching to the choir but I am sure you are aware of the bankruptcy option

Mon Nov 27, 09:40:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Robert said....

email (at work) are way misused & "abused", IMO
e.g. some HR guy sending a Word (2007 Holidays !) attachment to the ENTIRE company.
Why the hell do people still do that ?????

Mon Nov 27, 10:03:00 AM EST  

Blogger Robert Vollman said....

Tom: We have similar inbox-managing techniques.

1. Unless an email has a red ! on it, I only check my email at 3 well-known times of the day (8am, noon, 4pm).

2. I take any required action immediately, and move it to a "No Action" folder.

3. If for whatever reason I can not or will not act on it immediately, I leave it in the Inbox. I get alarmed if there are more than a half-dozen in such a state.

As for the "No action" folder: I used to group them into sub-folders in some sensical fashion, but now I just leave them in one big folder. Outlook has good email-searching capabilites if I need to find things.

You know, it's almost 2007. Email has been mainstream for about 10 years. I would hope most people have already figured out how to use it properly most of the time.

Mon Nov 27, 03:46:00 PM EST  

Blogger Noons said....

No they haven't, Rob. Not by a country mile.

If anything it's a lot worse now.
Since the tech wreck, it's been downhill for email other than at work. I now go for weeks before I get a proper reply from folks that MUST do so, work or non-work related.

It appears that quite a few have forgotten that in this day and age not replying to an email within a reasonable time is the equivalent of slapping a phone down on someone's ear: a practice that may well be recommended in some cases but is - socially speaking - a bit on the nose...

Tue Nov 28, 01:09:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Carl said....

I personally think the email overload problem is exaggerated - I've read letters from mangers and executives moaning about too much email and spam and it taking them hours every day to get through it - my question is just how slow do these people read? It's pretty obvious from the first few lines what you need to pay attention to, what you can delete and what you can leave until later.

You'd probably hate my email strategy - i have close on 20,000 emails (Yes I do need to do a bit of housekeeping!) - but I have no problem finding things as I usually know who, when or why someone sent something to me - I find it easier than remembering which folder I filed it in - it's easier to sort a single folder than have to search through 20 similar ones.

Tue Nov 28, 08:30:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I personally think the email overload problem is exaggerated

As of 6PM last night, my customer's email system had caught up to around last Wednesday - there was such a sudden surge of spam last week it overwhelmed their ISP. I came in after being away for a week, and didn't notice the date of the last email right away, I thought there was something wrong with oracle-l. I though 1500 spams were a bit much (spam filter misses about 5%, but I see the rest in a spam folder). I face today's inbox with trepidation.

Tue Nov 28, 10:08:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Carl said....

Of course a real spam deluge is a hassle - can't deny that, It's the people who find 20/30 items unmanagable that I don't understand.

Tue Nov 28, 12:23:00 PM EST  

Blogger Sidhu said....

Hi Tom

taking the story away from the track...accidently clicked one link on your page "tkyte test blog"...wats that ? found one stroy written over there by some lady....just confuzed...


Thu Nov 30, 03:23:00 AM EST  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

well, that is my testing blog (test changes to templates and such there before inflicting them on this one)

so, it is "just a test"

Thu Nov 30, 06:55:00 AM EST  

Anonymous James Ball said....

Hi Tom,

I currently have 1365 messages in my inbox, although this is mostly my fault after I requested a co-worker to email me one of our admin scripts. I wasn't specific about which script I wanted so I got the results of

cd /dbascripts
for i in `find . -name "*" -print`

You get the picture :)

Fri Dec 01, 10:08:00 AM EST  

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