Saturday, November 27, 2021

The Happy Inbox: How to Have a Stress-Free Relationship with Your Email, Teamates, and Communication Network by Maura Nevel Thomas


As someone who works in project leadership, I think I'm in the target demographic for this book. Unfortunately, I also didn't really find this book as useful as I think the author hoped it would be. In fact, I actively disagreed with some of the points she made, and didn't think others were necessarily feasible or desirable outcomes. But your mileage may vary.

My coworkers are always teasing me about my bad email hygiene. I think I have thousands of unread emails in my inbox. Whenever I'm presenting and my inbox is up, people are always like "NENIA." And I'm like, *shrug emoji*. YOLO. The author says that inboxes are for receiving emails and not storing them, BUT GUESS WHAT. Whenever someone on the team wants to find an old email thread or locate some specs, who do you think has those threads and specs? ME. The unrepentant email hoarder. If your email has a search function you can easily locate such documents by using keywords and searching in quotes, even if your inbox is a hot mess. And that's how I do.

Second, the author talks about delegation. As an example, she says, "If you are spending all day working on yard work on the weekends you might hire a landscaper to take care of your yard for you so you have your Saturdays free." Which gives you a peep into who she thinks is reading this book *cough upper-management cough*. Delegation is all well and good but unless you're a CEO or something and you have a personal assistant, you should probably be writing your own emails. ALSO, she mentions possibly having a family member being delegated to handle your correspondence? LMAO, really. That sounds like a terrible idea, having Grandma Mildred field your Match-dot-com notifications.

Third, she says you shouldn't be monitoring your email constantly and you should not have a tab open to do exactly this. Depending on what field you're in, I STRONGLY DISAGREE. She's like, if it's really important, someone will come by your desk to talk to you about it. MA'AM, if the boss is at your desk, asking, "Did you read my email?" you've probably just done an oops. Also, this is quarantine a lot of us are partially/fully remote, so also no. In tech, you need that email open constantly. It is the altar at which you worship because it gives you important updates and can alert you to status changes on projects. YOU KEEP THAT EMAIL OPEN. Especially if you work remote, as it's often the primary mode of contact people use in remote workspaces.

I feel like I've spent a lot of time talking about why this book was not good, so I will now talk about what I liked. The section on writing emails and leading meetings had very good advice. Don't jump the thread, CC on a need-to-know basis, bullet when possible, consider tone-- all very good advice. I would highlight this section and recommend that everyone read it BECAUSE YAAASS. I actually gleaned a few useful tips from this section that I plan to employ, so thank you, Maura Nevel Thomas.

Overall, I would say that there are much better books out there on the subject than what this one offers but it's not bad as an introductory guide. It's kind of pricey though. They probably could have cut down on costs by omitting the full color stock photos of people staring bewilderingly at their screens.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!

2 to 2.5 out of 5 stars

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