Inbox vs. Outbox
Before we had computers, people kept two wooden trays on their desks. One was marked “Inbox,” and one was marked “Outbox.” In the morning, the mail clerk would drop letters, catalogs, and newspapers into the inbox. At the end of the day, that same clerk would come and, from the outbox, take postal mail, express envelopes and courier packages the worker had piled up.
People didn’t always empty out their inbox completely, though. Over time, the inbox could be piled so high that it was taller than the outbox. That type of person was branded a loser, because he or she seemingly either couldn’t keep up with the flow of information or couldn’t produce enough output. Or both. It was a scarlet letter, visible to all.
Then, with the advent of the computer, those trays became decorations. Now most of our correspondence is digitized. Yet our email still has this thing called an inbox. But no “outbox” per se – this is called a “sent” file. Two strange things have emerged:
- No one looks at, or otherwise monitors, the sent file
- Having a large inbox no longer makes you a loser – in fact you are a winner because it allegedly shows you are very busy
It is a false economy. You can’t measure performance with only the “inbox” side of the equation. You must have an “outbox” also.
Remember that the next time a co-worker tells you how “busy” they are.
[end of impersonation]
If he actually wrote that, within an hour it would be retweeted over 750 times, receive more than 500 Facebook likes, and generate 20 blog posts beginning with the phrase “Seth’s done it again!”
But he didn’t, so here it will sit, silently, forever.
Meanwhile, I’ll keep putting stuff in my outbox.