Inbox Zero

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pages: 323 words: 95,939

Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now by Douglas Rushkoff

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algorithmic trading, Andrew Keen, bank run, Benoit Mandelbrot, big-box store, Black Swan, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, cashless society, citizen journalism, clockwork universe, cognitive dissonance, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, disintermediation, Donald Trump, double helix, East Village, Elliott wave, European colonialism, Extropian, facts on the ground, Flash crash, game design, global supply chain, global village, Howard Rheingold, hypertext link, Inbox Zero, invention of agriculture, invention of hypertext, invisible hand, iterative process, John Nash: game theory, Kevin Kelly, laissez-faire capitalism, Law of Accelerating Returns, loss aversion, mandelbrot fractal, Marshall McLuhan, Merlin Mann, Milgram experiment, mutually assured destruction, negative equity, Network effects, New Urbanism, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, passive investing, pattern recognition, peak oil, price mechanism, prisoner's dilemma, Ralph Nelson Elliott, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), Silicon Valley, Skype, social graph, South Sea Bubble, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, the medium is the message, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Turing test, upwardly mobile, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, Y2K, zero-sum game

Of course, in that single session of email we probably won’t actually complete the tasks demanded by each message. Or even open every one. But we will at least scan the headers, deal with whatever is urgent, and make mental notes of the rest. It’s easy to reverse email’s biases, however, and to treat the list of messages like stored data and the messages themselves like flow. Some workflow efficiency experts have suggested that people strive for something called “inbox zero”6—the state of having answered all of one’s emails. Their argument, based on both office productivity and cognitive science, is that merely checking one’s email is inefficient. If the email is not processed—meaning answered, deleted, filed, or acted upon in some way—then it remains part of a growing to-do list. According to this logic, the time spent checking it was wasted if the message hasn’t been processed to the next stage.

You make sure you have enough money, you remind yourself that the store will still be open at that hour, and you consider what route will take you the least out of your way. Once you know how you’re going to accomplish the task, the loop is closed—even though the task has not yet been accomplished. There’s no more that can or need be done in the present, so the active part of the brain is freed up. This is a proved method of reducing stress. The inbox zero people see each message as a running loop. So they recommend we do something to create closure for each email—answer it, put a date on our calendar, add something to our to-do list, or even just delete it—rather than just leaving it sit there. According to Bit Literacy author Mark Hurst, if we don’t get our inbox empty, we won’t get that “clean feeling.”7 Given that the email inbox will nearly always refill faster than we can empty it, and that the messages arrive on everyone else’s schedule rather than our own, this clean feeling may be short-lived or even unattainable.

Imminent or not, it shares more characteristics with religion than its advocates like to admit, complete with an Omega point, a second life, an act of creation, a new calendar, and the dogged determination to represent itself as a total departure from all that came before. This response is a bit more like that of the impatient, reactive Tea Partier than that of the consensus-building Occupier. More like the “inbox zero” compulsive than the person who answers email if and when he feels like it. More the hedge fund trader looking to see how many algorithms can dance on the head of a temporal pin than the investor looking for a business to capitalize over time. More the fractalnoid conspiracy theorist than the pattern recognizer. The more appropriate approach to the pressures of apocalypto may be to let up on the pedal just a bit.


pages: 267 words: 78,857

Discardia: More Life, Less Stuff by Dinah Sanders

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A. Roger Ekirch, Atul Gawande, big-box store, carbon footprint, clean water, clockwatching, cognitive bias, collaborative consumption, credit crunch, endowment effect, Firefox, game design, Inbox Zero, income per capita, index card, indoor plumbing, Internet Archive, Kevin Kelly, late fees, Marshall McLuhan, McMansion, Merlin Mann, side project, Silicon Valley, Stewart Brand

That doesn't necessarily mean that you can discard it all, but some of it can be scratched off your list and the rest can be postponed until the important stuff is done. What matters most is to be doing something in that top 20% more of the time than not. Acknowledge the allure of completion and resist doing so much quick busywork that you fail to move your most important projects forward. The hope for an easy win can keep us coming back to our email inboxes to see what has arrived in the past few minutes. Before we spend any chunk of time questing for inbox zero, we need to look for and do the next actions from our goals. Picking three “Most Important Things” Discardia is a framework. One of the things I've frequently bolted onto mine is blogger and author Leo Babauta's idea of picking three “Most Important Things” for each day. Ideally, these should be derived from the top goals for your top priorities. Pick your three things before looking at email.

If you do add more labels, consider putting a distinctive character at the start of these key ones (e.g., “@waiting for” or “_waiting for”) to insure that they are always sorted to the top of the list for quick access. Why label instead of moving to folders? It avoids the risk of “out of sight, out of mind” while allowing you to tell at a glance that you've already handled everything that currently needs handling. You get the benefit of inbox zero without wasting a lot of time or having to establish new rituals to check special folders. For categories of which you don't want to be reminded until you're performing a round of that activity (for example, something like “to read: professional development”), folders or their equivalent are helpful. In Gmail, you can keep those pending things labeled appropriately and archived, always retrievable by selecting all messages with that label, which you remove from each one after reading it.

Downsize Challenge. http://downsizechallenge.info LeechBlock. http://www.proginosko.com/leechblock.html Leonard, Annie. The Story of Stuff. http://storyofstuff.com Lesser, Marc. Less: Accomplishing More by Doing Less. Novato, CA: New World Library, 2009 Lewis, C.S. The Screwtape Letters. New York: Macmillan, 1943 Mann, Merlin. 43 Folders: Time, Attention and Creative Work. http://43folders.com ____. Inbox Zero. http://inboxzero.com Marino, Gordon. “Kierkegaard on the Couch.” Opinionator, The New York Times. 28 October 2009. http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/28/kierkegaard-on-the-couch Marsh, Nigel. “How to Make Work-life Balance Work.” TED: Ideas worth spreading. May 2010. http://ted.com/talks/nigel_marsh_how_to_make_work_life_balance_work.html Mason, Maggie. “Your Mighty Life Lists.” Mighty Girl. 30 November 2009. http://mightygirl.com/2009/11/30/your-mighty-life-lists/ Matheiken, Sheena.


pages: 271 words: 62,538

The Best Interface Is No Interface: The Simple Path to Brilliant Technology (Voices That Matter) by Golden Krishna

Airbnb, computer vision, crossover SUV, en.wikipedia.org, fear of failure, impulse control, Inbox Zero, Internet Archive, Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, Jony Ive, Kickstarter, Mark Zuckerberg, new economy, Oculus Rift, pattern recognition, QR code, RFID, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, Tim Cook: Apple, Y Combinator, Y2K

You forget to change your password, your account can get hacked, and you lose your private pictures, or maybe even your friends all get porn in their inboxes attributed to you. No, I swear, that’s not my dick pic! Rarely do these digital chores involve creating or contributing to the world. Rather, they’re mostly made up of us serving the computer. We seek alluring, aspirational moments like Inbox Zero—a state of having an empty inbox because you’ve deleted, moved, or archived them all—which many desire and few attain. But for what? For happiness? The improvement of society? Nope, for the computer. For the interface. So that a count in a numerical badge floating above your application icon can diminish and eventually disappear. So that the application notifications go away. So that your most important documents are preserved.

So that your most important documents are preserved. So that your account stays current. So that you don’t get hacked. In this digital errand world of operating system settings, folders, badges, and notification centers, one of the absurdities of the job is that the more digital chores you do, the more new digital chores may arise. Reply to an inbox full of messages? You’ll probably get a lot of replies back, and your temporary state of Inbox Zero will quickly become aspirational all over again. In other words, the better you are at email, the more emails you get. Back up your photos? Now it’s time to rethink that cloud storage. Saving and preserving your memories can mean massive file management. Update your mobile operating system? Oh, well, all your applications need to be updated now, too. They don’t work with the new system, duh.

., 165–166 design, best results for, 80 devices, preventing failure of, 204 Dewey Decimal system, 165 digital chores eliminating, 156 performing, 155 dishwashers, washing cycles of, 153 distraction, consequences of, 61–62 Dorsey, Jack, 106 downloading songs, speed of, 30 dropdowns, disregarding, 137, 142 DSP (digital signal processing), 139–140 E EarlySense EverOn sensor, 179–180, 205 educational mindshare, capturing, 127 efficiency, increasing, 148 Elektro robot, 173–175 emergency room, sounds heard in, 178 energy, saving, 148 error message, example of, 131 EULA (end user license agreement), 192 F Facebook, privacy policy of, 190–191 failure examining fear of, 203–204 preventing, 204 solving, 204 talk of, 205 fields, requiring, 132 food, data related to, 136 G Gamestation, 193 Gates, Bill, 59 Gerhardt, Paul, 102 Gilmurray, Damian, 139 Glympse mobile app, 196 Goldman, Jonathan, 169 Goodyear app, 149–150 Google Wallet, 107 GPS (global positioning system), 142 GUIs (graphical user interfaces), 163, 168–170, 176–177, 197 H Hammerbacher, Jeff, 47, 169 hard drive movie storage in 2006, 26 movie storage in 2013, 27 Harter, Andy, 139 head trauma consequences of, 143 detecting, 144 reducing, 144 headlamp, use by doctors, 141–142 health care settings, improving, 178–179 Heron of Alexandria, 200 Hetrick, John W., 200 Hewitt, Lee, 200 history, learning from, 165 Hoffman, Reid, 169 Hopper, Andy, 139 Horton, Dee, 200 hours per day, working, 147 Humphrey, Jason, 62 I IBM’s Deep Blue, contest with Kasparov, 120–130 ideas, filtering, 208 IFTTT service, 157 Inbox Zero, 155–156 individuals, adapting to, 179 information, gathering, 136–137 innovation, 163–164 “innovation” centers, map of, 32–33 interaction, best results for, 80 interactivity, 196 interface examples cars, 35–36 refrigerators, 37–38 restaurant, 41–42 trash can, 39–40 vending machine, 43–44 interfaces best results for, 80 redesigning, 165 using sparingly, 114 Internet speeds in 2000, 28 in 2010, 29 iPhones, sizes from 2007-2014, 99 Israeli research on cancer, 65 iTunes terms and conditions, 189 J Jay-Z, 195 job listings, 45–46 JPMorgan Chase’s Blink system, 107 K Kasparov, Garry, 129–130 Kawasaki, Guy, 34 Kowalczyk, Liz, 178 KPCB (Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers), 92 L laundry loads done weekly, 151 washing cycles, 152, 154 lazy rectangles avoiding, 120 drawing, 113 Leaf app for Nissan car, 117–120 learning from history, value of, 165 legal agreements, 187 light 6500k, 69 brightness of, 69 temperatures, 69, 71 light color, measuring, 71 LinkedIn, 170 Locket, research done by, 89 Lockitron deadbolt, 102–104, 205 lung cancer, incidence of, 65 M machine input embracing, 156 vs. user input, 139–140 using in health settings, 179 Manjoo, Farhad, 105–106 manual transmissions, decline in number of, 201 MasterCard’s Paypass, 107 Matyszczyk, Chris, 105 Mazda 929, 120–121 MC10 sensors, 144 McAfee computer security, 191 McCain, John, 148 McDonald, Aleecia, 189–190 McDonald’s, use of touchscreens by, 106 McKechnie, Alex, 181 McKinsey statistic, 111 media multitasking, effects of, 59–61 melatonin adjustment to pre-light exposure, 70 impact on sleep, 71–72 Metz, Rachel, 102 microphones, use of, 176 Microsoft Office, usage statistic, 189 mobile apps.


pages: 326 words: 74,433

Do More Faster: TechStars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup by Brad Feld, David Cohen

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augmented reality, computer vision, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, disintermediation, hiring and firing, Inbox Zero, Jeff Bezos, knowledge worker, Lean Startup, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, risk tolerance, Silicon Valley, Skype, slashdot, social web, software as a service, Steve Jobs

Reject and remove this excuse from your vocabulary because e-mail volume is no reason to suck at e-mail. In fact, entrepreneurs should want even more e-mail, especially from your customers. If you accept the notion that “you can't get too much e-mail,” you'll then need a system for dealing with it. We recommend something similar to the Getting Things Done (GTD) system by David Allen, which includes tactics such as “inbox zero.” Your goal should be to touch every e-mail only once and either respond to it immediately or put it on a to-do list with a due date to be dealt with later. Then, delete the item from your inbox. Do not use your inbox as your to-do list—this is a guaranteed path to e-mail misery. This simple solution will keep most people from sucking at e-mail. If your inbox has 2,000 new messages in it right now, you probably suck at e-mail.

Keep your e-mails about the business at hand, and don't let emotion get involved—which can be difficult if you're dealing with someone who sucks at e-mail. The last bit of advice I can give on this point is to remember that we all live in the real world. E-mail is fast and easy, but the reality is that not everyone uses it, and not everyone cares about it. I know it's scary, but if you're dealing with someone who sucks at e-mail, sometimes you just have to pick up the phone and call. David Cohen aiming for “inbox zero” on a summer Saturday at The Bunker. Use What's Free Ben Huh Ben is the CEO of The Cheezburger Network, owner of popular sites such as Lolcats, Loldogs, and FAIL Blog, and has made more people laugh than anyone we know. He's been a TechStars mentor since 2009. One way to get leverage over all of the big players out there that you're competing with is to build your business to be more efficient than theirs.


pages: 199 words: 43,653

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal

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Airbnb, AltaVista, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, en.wikipedia.org, framing effect, game design, Google Glasses, Inbox Zero, invention of the telephone, iterative process, Jeff Bezos, Lean Startup, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Oculus Rift, Paul Buchheit, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, QWERTY keyboard, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Snapchat, TaskRabbit, telemarketer, the new new thing, Toyota Production System, Y Combinator

For many, the number of unread messages represents a sort of goal to be completed. But to feel rewarded, the user must have a sense of accomplishment. Mailbox, an email application acquired by Dropbox in 2013 for a rumored $100 million, aims to solve the frustration of fighting what feels like a losing inbox battle. [lxxxviii] Mailbox cleverly segments emails into sorted folders to increase the frequency of users achieving “inbox zero” — a near-mystical state of having no unread emails (figure 27). Of course, some of the folder sorting is done through digital sleight-of-hand by pushing some low priority emails out of sight, and then having them reappear at a later date. But by giving users the sense that they are processing their inbox more efficiently, Mailbox delivers something other email clients do not — a feeling of completion and mastery.


pages: 222 words: 53,317

Overcomplicated: Technology at the Limits of Comprehension by Samuel Arbesman

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3D printing, algorithmic trading, Anton Chekhov, Apple II, Benoit Mandelbrot, citation needed, combinatorial explosion, Danny Hillis, David Brooks, digital map, discovery of the americas, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Flash crash, friendly AI, game design, Google X / Alphabet X, Googley, HyperCard, Inbox Zero, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Kevin Kelly, Machine translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." to Russian and back, mandelbrot fractal, Minecraft, Netflix Prize, Nicholas Carr, Parkinson's law, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, software studies, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, superintelligent machines, Therac-25, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, urban planning, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K

the source HTML of Google’s homepage: See Randall Munrose, “DNA,” xkcd, November 18, 2015, https://xkcd.com/1605/. Slate interactives editor Chris Kirk: Chris Kirk, “Battling My Daemons: My Email Made Me Miserable. So I Decided to Build My Own Email App from Scratch,” Slate, February 25, 2015, http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2015/02/email_overload_building_my_own_email_app_to_reach_inbox_zero.html. laws and regulations are technologies: The analogy between computer code and other kinds of codes—legal, moral—can be pushed quite far, but treating these as distinct types of systems is probably best. to establish the postal service: Constitution of the United States of America, Article I, Section 8: “To Establish Post Offices and Post Roads”; “Title 39—Postal Service,” Code of Federal Regulations (annual edition), revised July 1, 2003, available online: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2003-title39-vol1/content-detail.html.


pages: 288 words: 66,996

Travel While You Work: The Ultimate Guide to Running a Business From Anywhere by Mish Slade

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Airbnb, Atul Gawande, business process, Checklist Manifesto, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, Firefox, Google Chrome, Google Hangouts, Inbox Zero, job automation, Lyft, remote working, side project, Skype, speech recognition, turn-by-turn navigation

What tools, equipment or tactics do you rely on for travelling while working? Zoom (www.worktravel.co/zoom) for video calls with screen sharing. Slack (www.worktravel.co/slack) for great team chat and file sharing. Omnifocus (www.worktravel.co/omnifocus) for personal task management. Asana (www.worktravel.co/asana) for team task management. Trello (www.worktravel.co/trello) for project status monitoring. Inbox Zero (an approach to email management aimed at keeping the inbox empty – see www.worktravel.co/inboxzero) for email management. Lewis Smith: Freelance developer and app creator Tell us a bit about you and what you do – both in terms of your work and travel habits. My name is Lewis (aka the Itinerant Dev: www.itinerantdev.com) and I've been travelling with my wife Jenny (www.theadventuresmith.com) since September 2012.


pages: 349 words: 95,972

Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives by Tim Harford

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affirmative action, Air France Flight 447, Airbnb, airport security, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, assortative mating, Atul Gawande, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, Barry Marshall: ulcers, Basel III, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Broken windows theory, call centre, Cass Sunstein, Chris Urmson, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, crowdsourcing, deindustrialization, Donald Trump, Erdős number, experimental subject, Ferguson, Missouri, Filter Bubble, Frank Gehry, game design, global supply chain, Googley, Guggenheim Bilbao, high net worth, Inbox Zero, income inequality, industrial cluster, Internet of things, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Loebner Prize, Louis Pasteur, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Merlin Mann, microbiome, out of africa, Paul Erdős, Richard Thaler, Rosa Parks, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, telemarketer, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Turing test, urban decay, William Langewiesche

Gianmarco Ottaviano and Giovanni Peri, “The Economic Value of Cultural Diversity: Evidence from US Cities,” NBER Working Paper No. 10904, November 2004, http://www.nber.org/papers/w10904. 9. LIFE 1. Franklin’s discussion of his virtue journal is in Part Two of his autobiography (New York: Henry Holt, 1916 ed.), available online at http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/20203. 2. John Bach McMaster, as quoted ibid., n. 70. 3. Daniel Levitin, The Organized Mind (London: Penguin, 2015). 4. Merlin Mann, “Inbox Zero,” talk delivered at Google Tech Talks, July 23, 2007, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9UjeTMb3Yk. 5. Jorge Luis Borges, “John Wilkins’ Analytical Language” (1942), Selected Non-Fictions, ed. and trans. Eliot Weinberger (New York: Viking, 1999), p. 231. 6. Eric Abrahamson and David Freedman, A Perfect Mess (London: Orion, 2007), pp. 156–157. 7. Maria Popova, “Order, Disorder, and Oneself: French Polymath Paul Valéry on How to Never Misplace Anything,” Brain Pickings, October 30, 2015, https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/10/30/paul-valery-analects-order-disorder/. 8.


pages: 561 words: 114,843

Startup CEO: A Field Guide to Scaling Up Your Business, + Website by Matt Blumberg

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activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, airport security, Albert Einstein, bank run, Broken windows theory, crowdsourcing, deskilling, fear of failure, high batting average, high net worth, hiring and firing, Inbox Zero, James Hargreaves, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Lean Startup, Mark Zuckerberg, minimum viable product, pattern recognition, performance metric, pets.com, rolodex, Rubik’s Cube, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Skype

I need to cut back on travel!” or “I wasn’t in-market enough last quarter.” The kinds of shifts you can make are to be proactive instead of so reactive; to cut meetings, shrink them or group them when appropriate internally; to use videoconferencing instead of travel where possible—and to be just a little more selfish and guarded with your time. Management Moment Don’t Be a Bottleneck You don’t have to be an Inbox-Zero nut (though feel free if you’d like!) but you do need to make sure you don’t have people in the company chronically waiting on you before they can take their next actions. Otherwise, you lose all the leverage you have in hiring a team. Don’t let approvals or requests pile up. I worked for a guy once who constantly had a line of people at his door waiting for his comments or approvals on things.