There is a time for every idea, and when that time comes, the idea springs into the minds of several people simultaneously.
- Roy H. Williams, The Wizard of Ads
Have you noticed the high degree of interest around “fixing the inbox?”
I certainly have. (See my post, It’s Time For Something Different.)
In this effort, I see many players, but only two general trends:
- Inbox Zero
- Show Me The Important Stuff First
But in my opinion, many Inbox Zero tools focus on the wrong thing because they give you kudos:
- for procrastinating (“read this later”)
- for writing micro-replies (regardless of if your reply makes any sense to the recipients)
- for how quickly you read an email (regardless of your comprehension), etc.
There’s too much focus on efficiency, and not enough on effectiveness and results.
(Do you want more money because you secured a new client, or do you want a gold star because you got through all your emails?)
Which leads me to the second trend…
Show Me The Important Stuff First
The leader in this trend is Gmail, with some caveats.
A few years ago, Gmail introduced the Priority Inbox, an algorithm designed to show the most important messages first, in the “Priority Inbox.”
I was intrigued and turned it on for a few days. But I didn’t like it.
I didn’t feel like it prioritized my email correctly. And there was an annoying “false positive” incident where I was talking on the phone with a prospective client, and they said, “I’ll email over the requirements right now.”
I sat there waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and then realized Gmail put the message from this new sender in the “Other Mail” bucket.
That was one false positive too many for me, so I turned it off.
Perhaps if I had given Gmail more time to get to learn me and my habits, it would have worked great.
But in general, I don’t like computer algorithms trying to figure out what I should do next. I want to decide what I should do next.
And I want the computer to help me be effective at finishing the task in the most efficient manner possible.
Recently, Gmail introduced Tabbed Inbox, which separates your Inbox into buckets.
I like where this is going better as it seems much more cut and dry, and therefore a much lower chance for a false positive.
When I want to check my Facebook notifications, I click on Social.
When I want to look at see my newsletters, I click on Promotions.
(Btw, excellent analysis from MailChimp on how Tabbed Inbox seems to have lowered open rates for Gmail user from 13% to 12.5%. Not a good trend for email marketers.)
An Even Better Way?
But I wonder…is there an even better way to “bucketize” the Inbox, especially for sales people?
Methinks there is. And that is the subject of my next post, Relationship Buckets.