What does your overflowing inbox say about you?

Having 400 unread messages at any given time could be a sign you’re just too busy and important to read everything. On the other hand, people might perceive that you’re not on top of things.

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Sure, this statement frequently comes after a vacation of some sort. To be expected, right? Yet this often comes up as a day-to-day refrain among corporate folks. As someone who’s had his fair share of full inboxes—and someone who’s very curious as to how people manage their email—I’m always intrigued by this statement.

I think the perception people think they’re giving off when they repeat this statement to colleagues and their teammates is this:

OK, so I’m embellishing with that second part, but I believe the first part is true.

In my view, here’s what that statement really says:

So then my question becomes: Why would anyone ever say this out loud? Especially a leader or manager who may be making the statement to his or her team?

Isn’t that borderline offensive? It’s kinda like saying:

Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m no expert on email inbox management. (I really struggle to manage two inboxes because I have a “work” email and my Gmail account.) I have a simple rule: I try to respond within 24 hours to all messages in my “work” account (not pitches or other out-of-the-blue emails; I’m talking about emails from teammates, clients, or other business associates). If I can’t do that, I shouldn’t have a job.

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