I've learned a new job skill. I may have had it before but it was dormant until I tool on such an externally visible role. It's e-mail management. I was kind of good at it before, but it had more to do with my elaborate network of folders and sub-folders that allowed me, at any moment, to locate the desired document or e-mail with a few swift clicks of the mouse (I'm all about the Trackball Explorer). These days, it's about maintaining the ability to have real and meaningful e-mail conversations with people while dealing with a high volume environment.
I've been asked before who manages my e-mail inbox. At first, this question sounds like a joke, but it has been asked seriously. And I'm sure it would seem all the more remarkable if you all knew that I type with only six fingers (I have ten of them, but my pinky and ring fingers get to relax and the others pound away at the keyboard). In case anyone is still wondering if I am the ultimate diva (puleeze), I answer my own mail (what kind of diva installs her own garbage disposal and picks up her doggy's lawn bombs?).
Sometimes, I am still amazed when I log onto the system in the AM and see my unread e-mail expand before my eyes. Or I meet with someone in my office and out of the corner of my eye on the monitor...blip-new mail, blip-new mail, blip-new mail; talk faster Heather, you have some mail to answer!
I even have a philosophy around e-mail: open it once. Do I need to do anything? If so and it's quick, do it now. Can I delete it? Do I need to forward it? Can I just file it away (folder, sub-folder, etcetera)? More and more, I've come to love, love, love the feeling of deleting (and then going into my deleted items and deleting again....<evil laugh>)..and boy do I get to. Good thing I don't want to opportunity to help a foreign diplomat recover his millions, nor am I in the market for some viagra.
Have you received a response from me within about 15 minutes of your sending an e-mail? Many of you have. But sometimes it can take a few days. Sometimes I need to ponder on your resume before I offer advice or forward it along. I, for one, love the e-mail. Aside from the fact that I like my job and to help people, each e-mail is like my own little Sally Field moment...you really like me, well, enough to type in my e-mail address at least. There's really something affirming about receiving e-mails from people that are asking for help...getting their resume to the right person, my opinion on something or other. Happy to do it too!
But, ultimately, I am always striving for the magic moment I achieved recently when my e-mail inbox was plain old empty (I know, first time in years!) because I had gotten through it all. It's e-mail nirvana...nobody left to answer for a sec...blip-new mail.