The system is overloaded

Dealing with the deluge: the modern curse of instant communication

I’ve been talking to Kevin Slavin at area/code recently. His is a young company that’s up to some really interesting things — stay tuned for a profile down the line (also check out our own Jon Fine’s profile from when the company first launched). In the meantime, I asked him to send me some information and we experienced that classic email awkwardness factor. He’s busy; I know this. But how long to wait before sending another email with a gentle reminder that an initial email hasn’t been answered? I try to be respectful of people’s time and am loath to be too aggressive via email (unless I’m on deadline in which case sorry, all bets are off). But I know full well from my own screamingly overloaded inbox that sometimes messages simply fall through the gaps.

In the end I opted for the light harassment solution, apologizing all the way (what can I say? I'm British; I spend my life apologizing). In the email supplying me with what I needed, Kevin also pointed to a recent post he'd read discussing the concept of declaring "email bankruptcy". It's rather drastic, but I can relate. Whenever I do clear out my inbox, dutifully sending polite notes to anyone who's bothered to write, it inevitably sparks another avalanche of incoming mail. I don't want to be rude, but my job consists of more than answering email. I've seen some interesting visualization solutions, not least this dashboard from Kate Hollenbach at MIT, which analyzes trends in your inbox. But anyone got any practical solutions or tips for dealing with the deluge?

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.