Email is a brat that needs a slap!

Forgive the colourful language, but it’s true.

I don’t think it’s much of a secret to reveal that email is a leech on productivity – it’s rather like an inquisitive child that’s constantly asking questions, i.e. a little brat. It’s a little brat that needs to seen, not heard and told to wait it’s damn turn.

There’s lots of interesting research to backup this point. A study by Loughborough University found that:

70% of arriving emails were reacted to within 6 seconds. Once the email was addressed, it took an average employee 64 seconds to resume working at the same rate they were before the interruption. (Source via Cruseit.com)

Apply that to every email you get everyday << failure!

Until the likes of Mail Pilot (my one and only Kickstarter thus far) arrives, I don’t think I can banish traditional email from my life. But what I can do is ration it, turning it into a task instead a constant ticking time bomb.

Basically I’ve decided to close Outlook, only checking it every two hours – between 10am and 4pm – replying to anything that needs a response, and scheduling anything that needs further thought. I keep half an eye on my iPad in the intervening periods for urgent items, but it doesn’t suck me in as badly as Outlook’s cluttered crap of an interface does.

I’m also making people aware that if something needs my immediate attention they should call me, or just get up and come talk to me. Once upon a time this was standard practice, but people have become lazy and annoying thanks to email. I’m toying with the idea of using an ‘Out of Office’ for this, but I bet that would annoy people after a while.

My colleague, Rich Parris, is already unconvinced I can stick to this, simply due to the culture where I work. But I’m going bend people to my will or I’m going to die trying damn it!

I’d be interested to hear of anyone who has had success with something similar, or have their own ‘system’ they use.

2 thoughts on “Email is a brat that needs a slap!

  1. Nice post, Andy. My system is to not use your inbox as your to do list. Email is a means of communication, not a productivity tool, or a place to store tasks yet to be done. As soon as something needs doing, stick it in a SEPARATE list, or write it down, or do whatevery it takes to free it from your inbox. Just get it the fuck out of dodge, because you already spend too much time on email, remembering what you need to remember.

    I love Appigo’s To Do app for iPad and iPhone and the accompanying web service. Also, don’t have email folders. That was madness lies, because you lose effort spending time thinking about where to file it or remembering where you filed it.

  2. I use 2Do. Syncs with Toodledoo for free. Flirted with folders, but dumped them quickly for the precise reason you mentioned. Going well so far – discipline is the key!

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