Great article on the psychological profile of Outlook user habits.

Deep in the vaults of Micrsoft User Experience is probably a study that logs every action while slicing down in seconds exactly what users are doing in outlook. However, looking into the psychology of the user is another thing entirely

The makeup and tidiness of your inbox is a reflection of your habits, your mental health and, yes, even the way Mom and Dad raised you.

"If you keep your inbox full rather than empty, it may mean you keep your life cluttered in other ways," says psychologist Dave Greenfield, who founded the Center for Internet Behavior in West Hartford, Conn. "Do you cling to the past? Do you have a lot of unfinished business in your life?"

On the other hand, if you obsessively clean your inbox every 10 minutes, you may be so quick to move on that you miss opportunities and ignore nuances. Or your compulsion for order may be sapping your energy from other endeavors, such as your family.

Email addiction, of course, is now a cultural given. But a less-noticed byproduct of that is the impulse of the inbox. Some of us are obsessed with moving every email to an appropriate folder while killing junk "spam" on arrival and making sure Mom knows that we got her email and still love her. Meanwhile, others among us are e-procrastinators, modern-day Scarlett O'Haras who figure we'll deal with old email tomorrow. We're discovering that the disorder in our inboxes mirrors the disorder in our homes, marriages and checkbooks.

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Because "inboxes are metaphors for our lives," Dr. Greenfield says, there's no cure-all solution to inbox management. We're all too different. But he believes an awareness of our inbox behavior can help us better understand other areas of our lives.

"If you have 1,000 emails in your inbox, it may mean you don't want to miss an opportunity, but there are things you can't pull the trigger on," Dr. Greenfield says. "If you have only 10 emails in your inbox, you may be pulling the trigger too fast and missing the richness of life."

So true , so true. I now have to go archive my now overloaded Inbox so that I can send out e-mail again.

 

-Frank Yu