Lifebox Zero (or Life is a River)
A while back I was introduced to the concept of inbox zero. It was simultaneously an obvious and insightful concept, completely changing how I treat email. I use GMail, and it had never occurred to me what the purpose of the “archive” button was. I simply left all emails in my inbox and starred those that required attention. Of course, starred messages would soon dribble down and off the first page, and I would have to remember to click the “starred view” to bring these emails back to attention. Today, I have maybe 20 emails in my inbox (and this is still probably too many). I have the most urgent emails starred.
This philosophy of processing email is very similar to the mindset behind consuming a river of news. The idea being that one way to consume news (or RSS feeds) is as a single stream of posts. I was talking to Eddie the other day about his obsession with not missing posts. He is very methodical about how he reads his feeds. I tried to convince him that this was a waste of time. The time savings and stress relief that comes from readings what’s in front of you at the moment, rather than worrying about a post you might missed from a few days ago, is huge. And if something is truly important it will continue to echo throughout the blogosphere.
And finally, this doesn’t end with email and news. It applies to Twitter messages, Flickr uploads, Facebook updates, you name it. I think the services that allow us to process this information as a stream of notifications (think chat) and remove the stress of missing something will be the services that succeed. Life is a river and sometimes you just have to sit back and enjoy the view.