Email…a necessary evil of the modern workplace…or is it?

Back to work today and quite frankly, it’s not a great first impression. My inbox is overwhelmed with emails, but the scary part is how many of them are irrelevant or wasteful. Started off feeling frustrated this morning but as I plough through all the emails getting more annoyed at each one, I cheer myself up by remembering, that in the future workplace,  emails may not even exist.

Getting out of the inbox …

when someone first suggested a world without email to me, I couldn’t visualise it.  Email is such an integral part of the modern workplace that it is hard to imagine not starting working and opening up email as the first action of the day. But as I’ve become more and more immersed in the social world, now I can see it. i can see a world of collaboration and integration that happens in the public sphere and in small online groups. The need for individual emailing will be come less and less, till eventually it is no longer required.   Hard to imagine, right?  but it will happen…

In the meantime (sigh)…we’re going to be drowning in our emails for some time yet….  so I have to put on my super organisation hat, and start ploughing away at this email. I’m a bit obsessive when it comes to my email and I love to have my inbox empty, which is a nearly impossible task.  I’ve had to train myself to get out of the inbox, as I could easily spend my whole day doing nothing but emails.  Now I try to have more scheduled email checks.  First thing in the morning (bit of multi-tasking over brekky to make sure the sky didn’t fall down while I was sleeping),  30min when I first start work,  then 10min checks between meetings.  I literally set the timer on some days to ensure I don’t get sucked into the email vortex.   Since I’ve been on a break, today I’ve set aside an hour… and this is is the plan…

Delete delete delete

I remember someone telling me that after a 3 week holiday once.  They decided not to go through all their email.  They just deleted it all.  ALL OF IT.  They figured,  if it was urgent or important, at some point someone would come back to them.  Sure, they had one or two people who were a little annoyed at having to repeat requests, but overall,  mostly no one noticed.

Whilst I would love to just press delete,  I can’t bring myself to do it.  So the first thing I do, is run through all the email subjects and delete anything that doesn’t look urgent or important.   After holidays is a great time to do a bit of a purge on newsletters subscriptions.  I can’t believe how many I get,  you don’t really notice until you leave them to sporn and grow over a week.  Ekk…time for some “unsubscribing” action.   Ah, that feels better.

Action or File

If I open an email,  I try to either action it immediately,  or if I can’t action straight away…I file it into a folder and write down the action or next step required before I can go back to it.   That way, my inbox can stay clean, it is easier to see what is new and what still needs my action.

Complete actions NOT using email

Wherever possible, I also try to respond to requests using other mechanisms other than email.   Go to someone’s profile and post something on their wall,  send an instant message,  post something in a forum,   pick up the phone,  write it down as an action for next time I’m in a meeting with the person.    That way, I’m not contributing to someone elses email bog, as I try to clean up my email bog.

OK time is up…I’ve done what I can.  It’s a boring but necessary evil of the modern workplace, but I can see a future which looks different, and that is exciting.

 

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