The Perfect Envelope

The mind cannot concentrate while that obtrusive thing is there. It doesn’t really occupy much space, but when it is there, you cannot concentrate on what you are doing, till you have made the darn thing disappear!

If you’ve used Outlook with the new mail notification envelope set to to ‘On’, you know exactly what I am talking about. The tiny envelope can permeate your most deep thoughts and make you zone out of them in a jiffy! I have tried turning the notification off, only to have some harried person sneak up to me behind my back and bellow – “DID YOU SEE MY EMAIL?!” After jumping a good foot in the air, I then sheepishly acknowledge that I turned the notification off, because it was disturbing me.

Then, I realise, it is better to be interrupted with the yellow envelope than with an actual 6 foot tall person hovering over me literally. I am always seated while the person is standing. The craned neck gulps involuntarily, and it may be construed as a sign of weakness in case there were email wars being waged, with tiny words as swords on the battlefield of an email template.

I found that constructing complex rules and moving them to a different folder helps – the notification does not appear, but people always seem to find a way around my rules. I would say: If sender personality like ‘bullfrog’ and mail subject is unsavoury and if contents not terribly important to saving world then move to ‘Folder I might get to later on’.

Invariably bull-frogs break the system: they alias themselves to be vermin, or spice up the subject to make it sound like it needs reading and end up popping up in my icon area anyway.

I suppose it would be nice to sit and read automated notifications every minute if one had nothing to do. But given few of us have such luxuries, I spend hour upon endless hour cursing the relentless interruption, and admiring the perfect envelope icon!

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3 thoughts on “The Perfect Envelope”

  1. You have no idea how relieved I am to see this post. Dear Lord, I’m not alone in this world! You see, ever since I started working, I’ve been obsessed with getting the blasted new mail notification out of my sight.
    Its so bad that I must be the only one for miles around who has an inbox that says Unread (0).
    I’ve finally “devised” a workaround – move to folders and use icons which tell me if I’m the sole receipient (meaning I HAVE to read the mail ASAP), part of a group mail (I still HAVE to read it!) and cc/bcc (I read it later just to make the unread count 0) just like Gmail tells you – whether this method was copied rather shamelessly or was just a case of great minds thinking alike will remain a mystery…

  2. Email is the single biggest distraction in corporate life. I swear I've had people send me epic stories on mail, and prolonged conversations for 50 mails back & forth, when they could have stood up and finished the topic in 10 minutes. I try as often as possible to pick up the phone or walk up and complete it, but some people just like to revel in the fantasy world of mail!

  3. Executive managers are “taught” to ignore/turn-off these icons. Underlying theme being, don’t let email dictate your day-to-day schedule.

    As you implied.. it is not end of the world if someone reads the mail every 2-3 hours instead of constantly getting interrupted by it.

    I have a folder called A0-mails-to-me (any tips on keeping the folders in non-alphabetical order?) and read that mainly.

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