People frequently feel overwhelmed by a large quantity of emails that they feel obligated to respond to. As these messages pile up, the recipient tends to become increasingly stressed.
One email-management philosophy for mitigating this problem is known as “Inbox Zero”: it’s basically a system that suggests periodically wrangling emails in a systematic fashion. (It is not, contrary to what it sounds like from the name, just another term for having zero unread emails.)
But perhaps we can do better than “Inbox Zero”—instead of just handling all existing emails, what if we also got ahead of the email game by speculatively drafting replies to possible future emails?
This is the philosophy of “Inbox Negative One.” A user must simply do the following:
- Somehow, handle all of their existing unread emails. Just deleting them all (“email bankruptcy”) is allowed in this harsh philosophy.
- Next, speculatively draft some new email replies to various topics (real or imagined).
- When the user gets an email that they need to spend more than a few minutes replying to, instead, they just immediately send one of these pre-drafted emails on a random irrelevant topic (Figures 1 & 2).
The pre-drafted emails in question need not be relevant to the topic at hand: the only important thing is that they contain a delightful “personal touch”: perhaps they could contain a poem, or a piece of abstract art (Figure 2), or musings on the Hundred Years’ War.
This is probably the future of email. You should request that your favorite email provider add this “pre-loading email” functionality to their service (or perhaps you could write a plugin to handle it yourself).
PROS: Reduces stress among everyone who has to deal with email, which is almost everyone these days.
CONS: Manufacturers of anxiety-treatment medication might try to suppress this system, since it would bring tranquility to many of their stressed customers. Don’t let Big Pharma bury this incredible email technique! Note: if you work for Big Pharma and would like to buy the rights to this idea, please contact me.