Choosing Between The Inbox And The Stream

Like it or not, the stream has entered the workplace. While this may fill some with anxiety, and others with derision, on balance it is a good thing.

Since its use exploded in the late 1990’s, the email Inbox had dominated and controlled most professional people’s lives. It is a never-ending to-do list, created by other people who send a constant flow of messages that arrive on the screen and just sit there, waiting for action. Some are important; others are trivial. The Inbox makes no distinction. It just grows.

But with the advent of social network status updates and “feeds,” there’s a new avenue for new information and messages. And, for things that are not urgent and do not require action, it is far superior to the Inbox.

The Stream is just a constant flow of updates from those whom we have deemed important enough to follow. For some, it’s a large number and for others it is small. Into this Stream, our connections post their thoughts, interesting links, observations, jokes, more links, quick comments back and forth, news not critical but of use, and more. In other words: much of what now clogs your Inbox.

The difference is that, with the Stream, if you miss something it’s not a huge deal. The whole point is that you can miss something.

(There’s more after this video, keep reading:)

Think of it this way: It’s an Inbox with a time limit.

This implies that, as people become more comfortable with the Stream, they will begin to use it more effectively for work.

  • When you are sharing something, if it is interesting but not critical, add it to the Stream (by sharing on Facebook or Twitter, for instance).
  • Don’t get upset if someone misses something you put in the Stream.
  • Try to reserve emails to people’s Inboxes for things you really need them to see or act on.
  • Some other rules . . . that we have not even thought of yet, and that will emerge as people use the Stream more and more.

As we all embed these ideas in our workflow, our day-to-day life can perhaps lose some of its anxiety!

2 thoughts on “Choosing Between The Inbox And The Stream”

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