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, 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, 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

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.

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.


pages: 267 words: 78,857

Discardia: More Life, Less Stuff by Dinah Sanders

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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

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.

., “@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.

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.


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

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.

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, Toyota Production System, Y Combinator

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, 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

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, 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, Internet of things, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Loebner Prize, Louis Pasteur, 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

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.


pages: 561 words: 114,843

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

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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, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Skype

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.