Simon Wistow (deflatermouse) wrote,
Simon Wistow

When my mind stop thinking, my eyes stop blinking

I just got back after 4 days away and had to deal with the morass of email, feeds, todo items and Tweets that had built up in my absence and it occurred to me that the way I deal with these datum is very much like how various Garbage Collection schemes work:

In general I use a Ref Counting system similar to how Perl does GC - I mentally keep a tally of how much external information is needed for an email and when that reaches zero I reply. This has the benefit of timeliness in much the same way a Ref Counted GC guarantees timely-destruction on scope exit.

The disadvantage is that, like Ref Counting, it's a lot of mental accounting and constant work to keep it under control. It tends to leak slightly so that the number of unhandled items slowly creeps up or some drastic event happens and it shoots up. In those scenarios I tend to do roughly the same as jwz  

"When my main Inbox folder hits 2000 messages, I sit bolt upright for 16 hours and cause it to contain less than 200

This is the equivalent of a stop-the-world mark-and-sweep GC a la older versions of Java and it's main disadvantage is it brings everything else in your world to a grinding, screeching halt - this is why Java apps occasionally lock solid: because a GC run has started and nothing can interrupt that.

I should probably start using a more modern scheme such as a Generational (sometimes known as Ephemeral) Concurrent Garbage Collector. This would mean that certain emails of different ages or priorities would be dealt with sooner and the rest when I have idle time. This sounds ideal except that it still requires an initial triage run and would also require much more sophisticated scaffolding for accounting and record keeping.
Tags: bad metaphors, email, garbage collection, information overload, life hacks, psychology

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.