The Evil World of Email!

Overflowing inboxes are wrecking productivity and making people feel guilty. Is the technology to blame, or are we?

Photo by Bermix Studio on Unsplash

Esat Artug Tim King Joseph Mavericks Tom Chanter

An email has become an integral part of our daily lives. Way back, it started as a productivity tool but is no more considered like this.

Like most tools, email is useful but it can become disruptive and even damaging if used excessively or inappropriately.

When managers are the ones trying to recover from email interruptions, they fail to meet their goals, become less productive, they neglect manager-responsibilities and their subordinates don’t have the leadership behavior they need to thrive.

Want to get better productivity? Check your email less often!

It has evolved from a simple way to send and receive text between two parties into a familiar and reliable method of communication that can be used as a place to receive newsletters, updates, and notifications from various services.

Is email a necessary evil?

You start with a clear goal of getting your inbox down to zero. When you’ve achieved that and turned your eyes away from the screen, you hear a notification. Yes, it’s that annoying sound that tells you got a new email.

Research from Michigan State University shows that keeping up with email traffic places high demands on managers, which prevents them from achieving their goals and from being good leaders.

An email inbox is a reservoir of your own time managed by other people.

You should have control over your time & do not let others control it!

Clearing your inbox or getting to INBOX ‘0’ is trivial for your productivity and efficiency. The challenge is ‘how to get to this?”

One proven way is to adopt David Allen’s methodology of Getting Things Done.

David Allen is a veteran coach and management consultant. Allen shares the breakthrough methods for stress-free performance that he has introduced to thousands. He shows how to assess goals, relax, and stay focused.

GETTING THINGS DONE® is a personal productivity methodology that redefines how you approach your life and work.

I will share some of my thoughts and advice on the adoption of this technique and other methods a little later but before that…

Email Client Apps & it’s Future

Several studies have found email hurts productivity and makes people feel bad. “I just think we have to rethink email, and even redesign the way email is used.

This picture depicts the usage-severity of email clients in a better way!

While writing this blog, I also realized that recently many email apps have built features and experiences on top of the core email technology, such as shared inboxes, team collaboration, delegation, inline comments, and third party integration.

“I just think we have to rethink email, and even redesign the way email is used”

With the advent of Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning, the overall built-in productivity within emails is changing and making it more efficient in terms of speed and accuracy.

Gmail is a great example of this innovation and this is proven with the universal acceptance of their users all around the globe. They have 1.5 billion users as of October 2018 and is growing from strength to strength every day.

But, there are companies like Spark email and recently, Hey.com that is providing a revolution in this industry of necessary evil.

Hey, especially is changing the away we need to start looking into our emails, achieve INBOX ‘0’, be more efficient in our responses, and start focussing on what matters the most.

On the other hand, Spark email, with its smart inboxes, team collaboration, and third-party integration is worth checking out.

Here are 5 reasons why I refrain from emails!

1. It is a huge distraction. Every time an email comes in, it interrupts my train of thoughts. This is not good for my kind of work, for research requires immersion, and getting into the zone. Email makes this impossible.

2. Email fools you into a false sense of productivity. Many of us work 8-hour days and spend 2–3 hours tending email. That is a horrific waste of time, yet, we all feel even more productive on the days we spent more than the average time on email. Since I reduced my email interaction, I have been much more productive.

3. The length of an email is inversely proportional to its value. This I think comes from the fact that the people with the most time to waste, will do so. Those who are busy and pressed for time, tend also to respect others’ time as well. I find it best when I get a short 3–4 line email focused on what is needed. Anything more seems better done on the phone.

4. Nothing goes wrong if the email is responded to at the pace of snail mail. Try it, you will see. In fact, I find that the quality of my email correspondence has gone up as I have begun to reply when I felt more like attending to it, rather than doing so instantly.

5. Email steals vital downtime. Before, when we had a quiet moment we savored it. Remember transiting in airports, reading quietly, staring out the window? Now those days are gone. Now everyone in transit is rushing to check his or her emails or is on social media. No wonder everyone is so stressed out; they do not get that much-needed downtime anymore. “Oh, I have 5 minutes to spare, let me check my email — I feel so cool and accomplished.”

My Final Thoughts!

  1. I see my emails twice a week and make sure that all emails that I need to respond are either snoozed or reply to them right away based on priority levels.

2. I use some creative email apps where I can even reminder emails to myself do not need me to open my email. My goto email app has been Spark for the last few years and I have started to love my emails once again!

3. So, use email as one would use snail mail — only when necessary, and only when you know it will not be a waste of someone else’s time.

“My goal is no longer to get more done, but rather to have less to do.” — Francine Jay