July 25, 2007

Email Jail

Seems like every week, I'm reading another article about how to ditch email. And here's another one.

I know people who work in various industries, and for some of them, the sheer volume of email they receive on a daily basis is ludicrous. And the same statistic most of these articles cite holds true: 85% of it is junk. Not related to their jobs. Filler.

This piece also relates another growing comment: dealing with email is making people dumber - actually dropping IQ points (for lack of a better measure, we'll go with that for now). The distraction quotient is huge - hours a day wasted in email sorting, exchanging, expunging or ignoring. Because yes, you even know when you're ignoring something.

Go through your address list. Who makes you wince? I know. The people who forward every stupid joke (regardless of how dated),every chain letter (I've died a thousand deaths by now), and every bogus urban legend (quick check on Snopes.com would stop most of these, folks). But I guarantee you who the worst offenders are. Those Who Will Not Let The Conversation Die.

You try to be tactful; you try to to sign off; it doesn't matter. They respond to every single thing you send, and sometimes continue long after you've stopped. This is fine with my friends. This is not fine with people who are working. Especially when it is me who is working.

I long ago learned that the one-worders ('yeah', 'right!', 'ha!') carry on these conversations (?) with many, many people. So they are doing this constantly, with everyone they email. How on earth does this work? I feel like I'm trapped in high school, on the phone - 'no, you hang up, no you hang up...'

I can't imagine working in a real kind of job and having to joust with endless streams of jokes and banter. The garbage spam that comes in makes me nuts enough - though there are days that learning tricks of the stock market while gazing at my enlarged penis while I make extra money working from home starts to seem at least entertaining.

Part of my work is comprised of email from people I don't know. Readers, editors, media and others, it's all fine. I enjoy it. There are people I here from once, who then disappear into the ether. There are people I hear from regularly, and there are people I wish I did hear from but don't.

But to deal effectively with the stuff that matters, I have to purge the stuff that doesn't. I'm pretty blunt - I tell people my time constraints, because I don't want anyone waiting for a reply that's not coming. But when I email people, I assume they're busy.

The linked piece opens with a bank exec who finally smashed his BlackBerry on his kitchen counter because of the continual email overload. He didn't get in trouble. The investment bank he worked for instead changed the way they do business. There's a list of tips at the bottom - they're good ones. Claim back your life.

But don't forget to write.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm pretty fortunate in that I seem to miss most of the junk emails but the ones that bother me the most are the bank scams (click on the link and verify your information due to security changes) and the Nigerian money scam (can't believe people still fall for that one).

July 25, 2007 11:29 AM  

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