I'm a big believer in opening and responding to emails right away. This habit prevents my entire inbox from becoming a giant "need to think about it" folder. But something I read recently made me concerned that this philosophy does not bode well for my intelligence: According to Ron Friedman, Ph.D., email "ignorers" are the smart ones because they "recognize that [monitoring and organizing your emails] isn't helping you achieve progress. And that's a sign of intelligence."
Uh oh. Did my unwillingness to ignore my emails make me stupid? "My standardized test scores and academic performance indicate otherwise!" I yelled at the screen, but alas, it did not respond. On the other hand, my friend who has an autoresponse for every single email he gets, with creative little messages like "If you're looking for an autoresponse, something's gone wrong" and "If you'd like to make a call, please hang up and try again" — now there's someone with his act together.
But as I read more about the psychology of email inboxes, I came to understand that, as with many human categories, a binary is insufficient. Just as there's more than just male or female and gay or straight, there's also more than just email ignorers and readers. Imagine that! There's a whole world out there of unique individuals doing their own things will their email inboxes, and I think this diversity should be, like, celebrated, dude.
So here are some more accurate, less frightening conclusions you can draw about yourself based on where your inbox fits into the diverse spectrum of (all totally normal!) inboxes.
1. The Ignorer
"You've got mail" is pretty much your personal motto. Except not, because we're not in the '90s. But it totally was back then.As Friedman mentioned, this can be a smart move because it shows you know how to prioritize. I mean, who needs to open that email from their college alumni foundation asking for donations? (Let me pay off my loans first, people.)But how do you deal with all those bold letters? I don't get it. They're hurting my eyes.
But what do I know? Apparently, according to Friedman, you'll be a great business executive because you'll know how to manage all those messages flying at you from every which way. I might also suggest an editorial role, because all those submissions, man ...
2. The Filer/Deleter
Finally, a whole group of people who share my phobia of bold-type font. "A huge, exploding inbox releases stress-based neurotransmitters, like cortisol, which make them anxious," psychologist Larry Rosen told Business Insider. I know them feels, Larry.
Rosen also suggests that people almost compulsively file and delete emails because they "need an external way to have control over the world." Man, this is getting deep!
But... but... how else will I convert my chaotic life and unpredictable future into color-coded folders?
3. The Saver
Do you relate to my characterization of inboxes as giant "need to think about it" folders? Is your inbox full of starred emails? Is your "drafts" box the only thing more overflowing than your main inbox? (I know what it's like; I'm a recovering saver.) Then you may be a perfectionist — and consequently a procrastinator. "Perfectionists save read emails with the idea that they will get to them [eventually]," Pamela Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Research Center, told Business Insider.
This is the email equivalent of hoarding: You keep your messages around because you just never know when you might need them, right?Well, I'm here to tell you, you don't need them. You are a strong, independent woman and you don't need any emails to feel good about yourself. You can hit that "delete" button — I believe in you!