I recently realized that every single email user on the planet is heading towards a problem of the exact same kind. We are all going to have the problem of email inboxes that challenge our time management skills, and threaten us with becoming overloaded.
It’s likely that with the deepening of social networking that email use (plus other kinds of messaging) will only increase. Also, as more people migrate to portable email systems, we’ll all get used to sending email at hours of the night and weekend, and will become more comfortable with sending an off-hours response.
These trends serve to encourage the use of email as a communications device, thereby increasing the volume of email that we each receive.
There is some talk, however, of creating intelligent autoresponders that tell a sender the likelihood that a sent email will be read and responded to. These tools will scan a receiver’s inbox and send back an immediate estimate.
While this kind of tool may reduce the volume of email, I doubt it will have much of an effect. I imagine that email users will merely turn the feature off, once it starts to broadcast a message to the world that indicates “how poor a time manager I am.”
It’s more likely, I think that there will be some that manage email well, and the majority that don’t. Perhaps there will be a revolution in the way we manage email in which we all learn a set of habits (such as the 11 fundamentals presented in 2Time) that help us to deal with the upcoming deluge. Perhaps methods of managing email will be taught in schools and time management will be understood as a critical skill to any kind of success, much in the way that math is seen as essential.