I have 80,000 emails in my inbox and that’s okay

A few years back I was at a dinner discussing email habits with several entrepreneurs. Everyone had their secret tips and tracks to get to inbox zero. When it was my turn, I showed them this:

Yep, that’s how many unread emails I have. Over 80,000 emails. People at the table had their jaws drop. One entrepreneur was about to have a panic attack. Everyone questioned how I could function with that amount of unread email? Well, quite happily actually.

1 — Be Ferocious With Your Time

As an startup ceo, I learned to be ferocious in how I spend my time. Founder time at a startup is the most precious resource the company has. There is only 24 hours per day and I am ferocious in what I choose to do during that period. I have to choose to work on the financial projections or programming the product. Landing page review or reviewing ad spend unit economics. Reviewing the code base or reviewing resumes. Spending time with my family or reading your email.

I have accepted the hard fact that I can’t do everything so I need to choose what I do not do. Responding to every email I have stopped and I really haven’t seen any negative impact on my work.

2 — Your Inbox Isn’t About You

Most of what appears in our email inbox isn’t about what your or your company wants to do. It’s mostly about what someone else wants you or your company to do for them. Sales emails. Marketing emails. Software service emails. Invitations to attend a conference. Etc. Etc. why give these emails even the dignity of a click? I view that they have already wasted my time on browsing past them.

3 — Preview Says Enough

Email clients show you the sender name, the subject line, and a preview of the first 2 lines. If that information doesn’t “spark joy” for me, then I don’t open it.

Do I miss a few important emails? Sometimes. But those people usually follow up, text, or call me to follow up if it’s really important.

There are some tools that keep coming up that are suppose to revolutionize the inbox every year but I have yet to experience any service that actually saves me time in my inbox (to be fair, Slack has actually been the biggest benefit but now I’m in 5 different slack domains which is a different problem and a different blog post). So I’ll continue my current format of ignoring most of my inbox.

If you didn’t get an email response from me, I apologize. I don’t want to be rude but I can only do so many things in one day. Just email me again :)