Bit Literacy has some sound advice when it comes to reading and processing electronic newsletters (or zines.)
The first recommendation is to scan newsletters once before deleting them.
I began this practice about a year ago, and have found that it works much better then trying to shove all my newsletters into a single folder in Outlook. As you might suspect, the newsletter folder simply became overwhelmed with hundreds of unread items.
The discipline of reading a newsletter once it’s downloaded has a variety of side benefits. One is that it ensures that if I am downloading the newsletter, then I should only do so when I actually have the time to process and read it, along with all the other items coming into my inbox. This prevents me from doing half-ass scans of my inbox, leaving unread and unprocessed email to sit around and accumulate into the hundreds and thousands.
Making this work requires some training, and some chutzpah.
The training takes place with the people in your life, who must come to learn that email is an unacceptable medium for urgent messages. The chutzpah is required with people like your boss, your spouse / S.O. and your parent, as you decide that the old ways of contacting you are going to change.
Depending on your preference, you may decide that IM, text, phone calls or personal visits are the new ways to send you urgent messages. Some people set up special email addresses (such as [email protected].) with specific instructions that it should be used for emergencies.
Millions, however, choose instead to purchase iPhones, Pre’s and Blackberries so that they don’t miss a single important email. However, continuously scanning your email inbox is a poor strategy, as in addition to the permanent distraction that the device becomes, there is the fact that scanning for the 1 email in 1000 that’s urgent, leaves 999 to be processed later, clogging up the email inbox for a time that never seems to come.
For many, this kind of life fast becomes one that they don’t want, leading them to lose, disable or breaking their US$500 email devices so that they can untether themselves from their email. The fact is, they lack the chutzpah that’s needed to demand different behaviour from others.
The second recommendation the book makes is to manage one’s electronic reading in a very explicit way.
One group of items belongs in the “Stars” category of items that are read on a regular basis, or from beginning to end. Another group belongs to the “Scans” which deserve only a a once-over because only some of their content is useful some of the time.
The last group comprises “Targets,” which includes items that are read for a specific single purpose, such as forwarding them to others who are interested in the topic.
Both sets of recommendations are sound, and I’ll be trying out the latter to see how well it works for me.