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Upgrade Your Life: The Lifehacker Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, Better by Gina Trapani

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Chapter 1. Control Your Email

Do you wish you received less email? Sure you do. Do you want to live without the convenience of electronic mail? Of course you don't. The greatest double-edged sword in productivity technology, email both empowers and overwhelms its users. But the most successful professionals know how to control their email instead of letting it run their workday.

On one hand, email enables anyone with an Internet-connected device to send information great distances at the press of a button. On the other, you've got 1,762 unread messages sitting in your inbox, and you don't know when you'll have time to get through them all. Ding! Another one just arrived.

Before email became ubiquitous, to send a letter, a person had to commit the information to paper, stuff and address the envelope, affix postage, and drop it in the mailbox. Days or weeks later, the message arrived on the recipient's desk. Today, email offers the same type of text-based communication, just faster and easier, complete with a cute little envelope icon. But the same ways you deal with arriving postal mail don't work on electronic mail. Incoming messages are incoming messages. But email's effect on workers is vastly different from paper mail for one fundamental reason: volume. The speed, convenience, and low cost of sending email has increased the number of transmissions to levels that turn the postal service green with envy: about 150 billion emails are sent daily.

This virtually free and instantaneous ...

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