How to Handle Email Overload

I sent a quick message to Matt Cutts from Google a few minutes ago, asking him when Google might be updating their index to reflect my new site strucutre (since moving from BlogWare to WordPress a few weeks ago). I almost shot milk out of my nose when I received his autoresponse a minute later:

I’m on vacation until June 30th, and I *will delete all email* when I return. In case of an emergency, Carol Smith has my cell phone number. You may wish to send your request to Brian White or Amit Singhal, or you may want to resend your email after I return.

I suppose that’s one way to handle email overload? Okay, Matt – you’re going to delete my original message, but I’m sure this post will show up in your ego feed. Or, at least, it should show up.

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  4. FWIW, the Google sitemaps program will give you a lot of visibility into Google’s internals for very little work, and *should* fix your problem. I assume that there’s a sitemaps plugin for WP somewhere, but I’m not really a WP guy.

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  6. My next-door-neighbour – who is a police inspector – does something similar. His out-of-office response says something like “I will be back on the . I will delete all emails without README in the title. Please resend this email with README in the title if it will stil be important to me after I return”.

    I think this is a good thing, especially for all the cc-everyone emails you get in corporate life.



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  10. Brain Overload: The Threat of Cranial Overblosis

    It could be the evil confluence of two graph lines. One line represents “room left in brain”. The other represents “data input”. Result: Overblosis of the cranial cavity, otherwise known as Brain Overload.

    Having lived my life as a baby boomer, the demographic group which has been the obsession of unprecedented hoardes of marketing focus groups, I already know that when I fart, so do a hundred thousand of my contemporaries.

    Therefore, I know as a fact, that any minute the news will be filled with breathless (but well groomed) news anchors reporting frightening instances of spontaneous and messy brain explosions spreading across the country.

    It is understandable that 50+ year old brain cells would fatigue, longing for a simple graze in the pasture. Munching in a sunny field of grass is a refreshing image, soothing to black-and-blue gray matter.

    But our environment isn’t cooperating. Instead of grassy fields, our psyche is jabbed, stabbed and generally invaded with gigabytes of decidedly non-grassy input, and we are not built for it.

    Eisenstein’s Montage

    Sergei Eisenste in Sergei Eisenstein exhibiting Cranial Overblosis symptoms->

    It started with Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein about 90 years ago. This visionary Russian cinematographer theorized that people could understand a succession of unrelated images and assimilate these images into a unified impression.

    His well studied “Odessa steps” sequence in the 1925 film Battleship Potemkin demonstrates this then-radical psycho-perceptual phenomenon which is now found in nearly every movie, television show and especially every TV commercial currently attacking your eyes.

    This frenetic moving slideshow on steroids is called the montage.

    Eisenstein was kinder than our current batch of Attention-Deficit-Disorder-afflicted film editors. He gave the audience a good solid few seconds to absorb, for example, the image of the stressed-out dude in the round glasses before cutting to the image of the rifle-wielding Cossacks.

    In current cinematic language, a few seconds per shot is enough to get the editor fired for sleeping at the Avid. Visual images are now measured in increments of 1/24 of a second, the smallest increment available because movies pour 24 images every second into our heads.

    The Impression of Motion

    On one hand, 24 frames per second gives us the impression of smooth motion. The image persists in our consciousness for enough time to blend into the next one. Thank the Lumiere brothers and Thomas Edison for creating devices which fool our minds into inferring motion from a succession of still images.

    As soon as flashing images were invented, however, people began experimenting with the number of frames which are actually necessary to convey information.

    Subliminal Messages

    The underworld of this group postulated that one could plant subtle “subliminal” messages into the viewer’s brain by flashing, for example, only one frame of a specific message within the movie.

    In their hopeful minds, by displaying 1/24 of a second of “Eat Popcorn” or “Start Orgy Now”, flocks of brain-controlled zombies would obediently rush either the snack counter or each other without a second thought.

    Thankfully for our waistlines and our population control, these ideas turned out to be unfulfilled. This makes sense. Why would a viewer select 1 particular frame out of 175,000 in a typical movie (including previews) for obeisance?

    Shell-Shocking the Audience

    Now film editors tread in the conscious realm, stingily feeding us just enough frames to convey flash impressions, then moving on to flash again. Their inspiration started with Eisenstein but ended with the strobe light. What we endure at the cinema would induce an epileptic seizure in Eisenstein.

    The public undoubtedly gobbles up these machine-gun images, or they wouldn’t exist. Hyper-montages make visual media exciting.

    But each movie force-feeds terabytes of data into our scull-restricted heads. Doesn’t data require space? Even if, as neuro-psychologists tell us, gaining knowledge involves the building of neural connections within the brain, don’t these neurons take up space?

    More Brain Barrage

    It’s not just TV and the movies. We are bombarded by thousands of emails, cell phone calls and text messages. We are zetzed from resting states by pings, dings, rings and beeps all day long, every day.

    No wonder we can’t hold a train of thought beyond two sentences of a conversation.

    No wonder we resemble rats being randomly shocked in a Skinner Box, trying to find reason and predictability among zaps of random chaos.

    I don’t know about you, but I’m wearing a hat in case my brain explodes.

  11. This is an old thread, but I guess people still read it, as it’s on google.

    I used to have an auto-responder on my email that replied to EVERY email I received with: “Please note I reply to emails only until 10:00. Whatever is left in my inbox, gets deleted! If you didn’t receive a response to your email, chances are it’s deleted. If you need a reply, email me again.”
    At the time, it worked wonders. I used to spend 2 hours in the morning on replies to email, and I was then able do the work I was paid to do!
    The people that really needed my input, called me, (it takes one tenth of the time to resolve an issue while talking to the other party), met with me face to face, or emailed me again.
    Unfortunately circumstances have changed and I am no longer able to take such an extreme action. I do, however use MoveIT, which is a relatively new software that plugs into Outlook. It’s amazing how much more I can get done while using it. Google: moveit email overload, to find out about it.