The Email Inbox as a Mouth

mouth-3d_model_anat_openmouth_web1.jpgThe email in-box is nothing more than a mouth.


Well, the mouth is an ideal capture point. It allows for temporary storage of a certain amount of food, and performs its function perfectly as a “staging area” for the process of digestion, and sending essential nutrition to the rest of the body.

When food stays too long in the mouth, trouble breaks out. The teeth, tongue, breath and gums all suffer when bits of food don’t make it out of the mouth. Clearly, it’s not intended to be a storage device.

In much the same way, the in-box was never intended to be a permanent storage area. It was only meant as a staging area, and when it gets abused, a user’s productivity instantly falls. If you have ever seen someone hunt through 4000 emails for a single piece of information (or if you have done it yourself), you know the frustration that comes from being buried by the result of having weak practices.

Reversing all this is easy, however, although rarely instantaneous. By hook or by crook, the essential components of 2Time have to be mastered.

In other words, Capturing must be mastered e.g. the automatic download feature in Outlook must be turned off. Tossing must be mastered e.g. email must be worked on as soon as it comes in, and anything that won’t be acted on needs to be deleted.

An in-box of zero items is the result of steady mastery of these components, and nothing else. It’s not too hard to see that someone who maintains an empty or almost empty in-box MUST have mastered these components – whether they know what their names or not.

Maybe it’s a bit like being pregnant… it always comes after some kind of insemination, and never appears without it.

A consistently empty in-box comes only after the components are mastered to some degree, and it never gets to zero without this happening.