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The Epitome of Email Clutter

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The ongoing battle with our inbox is just that . . . a never ending match between receiving and deleting emails. And, despite the cheery intention that some messages contain, it’s hard to understand why junk mail is intentionally forwarded by people.

Recently, a colleague of mine divulged a crazy tale of junk email that even I couldn’t believe. He utilized an example of sorts to explain his situation, which left me speechless. I’ve included the email below, but before you scroll down to see it, allow me to first explain my colleague’s daily battle with email.


Michael works in sales. His job is fast-paced, high stress and, to be quite sure, apparently filled with useless communication along the way. He conducts business by phone and email, which can be wearing on any person, but particularly in his case since most of his conversations deal with financial negotiations. Besides constantly catering to his ringing phone, he is simultaneously managing several hundred emails an hour that are filtering in and out of his inbox. And while multitasking isn’t necessarily the most productive way of working, the nature of his work simply forces him to do so on a continuous basis. He spends most days stressed and overloaded by email, which only enhances his annoyance when junk find its way into his inbox.


Then comes the junk mail that piles up. Despite Michael’s company server, there are still dozens of tricky emails that slip through the cracks of the filter and wind up in his inbox–ready and waiting to interrupt his day and prolong his battle with maintaining email. Suffice it to say, he deals with these types of emails on a regular basis, which is maddening!

Below is one such message that he received from one of his customers just recently:

    From: Jaime
    Sent: Thursday, January 21, 2016 9:22 AM
    To: Michael
    Its National ??? Day



    © Flickr user National Hugging Day

Yes. That is it. An email with a funky picture of a cute little kitten announcing an obscure (clearly made up) celebratory day that, in the large scheme of things, is beyond insignificant. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to why this email is absolutely ridiculous. Allow me to give you a few seconds to process this email and attempt to justify its existence.

HINT : You’ll run in circles contemplating this one because the only argument I can possibly conjure on why it’s okay to send to someone at work is that it might cheer them up. But frankly, such a reason isn’t enough in my mind to make up for the utter annoyance it presents to the recipient(s).

In any case, I’ve created a list of reasons why emails like these need not be passed on (particularly during work hours).


    1. It wastes time. And I’m not talking about the recipient’s time. I’m talking about yours! Think about it — it takes longer to hit the forward button, select recipients, write a quick message and hit send, then it does for you to read it and mark it for trash. It may only take a minute or two of your time, but multiply that by 10 emails a week and you’re looking at close to 20 minutes of wasted time.

    2. It diminishes how you’re perceived at work. Whether you’re entry level, mid-management, a CEO or even an entrepreneur, your work says a lot about how you manage your job. Sending this type of useless email puts into question what you’re doing with your time. Those receiving it may wonder not only how you’re getting your work done, but the quality with which it’s being completed.

    3. It can create an awkward environment. Chances are, an email like the one above is generally innocent with little innuendo attached to it, but the recipient may not feel that way. Michael received the email from someone whom he works with daily, but has never met. He found it bizarre and inappropriate.

    4. It interrupts workflow. Email can easily become a time sucker if you allow it to be. If you don’t believe me, just read a few chapters from Robby Slaughter’s book, The Battle For Your Email Inbox. If you choose to allow it to dictate your work, it will. And that’s why sending junk email is a frivolous action. Not only are you interrupting your own workflow, but you’re forcing someone else to do the same.

Be kind to others. Stop forwarding senseless emails at work. And if you simply can’t resist the urge to pass along a picture of a fuzzy cat, do so through your personal email account.

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Ashley Lee

Ashley Lee

Ashley has been working with the AccelaWork team since 2008. She is a communications expert with a background in corporate work, and a graduate of the University of Dayton with a degree in Public Relations. She lives in the greater Indianapolis area with her husband and four children. Ashley enjoys jewelry, fashion, and coffee.
Ashley Lee

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