According to Mashable’s Sarah Kessler and Boomerang*:
Baydin’s average email game player deleted about half of the 147 messages he or she received each day. Ninety minutes of the two hours he or she spent on email each day went to just 12 messages.
Increasingly, I’m less and less a fan of email. The root of the problem is also the root of the word – mail. Because it’s an electronic form of an old modality, we think of it in old context. We spend a lot of time reading, sorting and composing email. We put a lot of pressure on getting email right. Pretty soon, we’ve spent more than two hours on email.
What’s the big deal, why is a nice cordial greeting and a thoughtful message such a problem? Am I really this grumpy? Not at all!
What do you do? Oh, I sort email.
What I dislike about email is how it has become the work product for so many of us. Who’s job description starts with: responsible for managing their Outlook inbox. Would you take a job that did say that? Yet, it’s what so many of us do. eMail has become, largely, the product of knowledge workers, and that is dehumanizing.
Take your primary care doctor, you probably imagine them in a white lab coat, next to a patient, providing care. Guess what, they are probably spending over two hours of their day mired down in email just like the rest of us. Where’s the care in that? From their perspective, where is the join in doing two hours of email. I doubt it’s why they become a doctor. (And for a bit of levity, Dr. Mike Sevilla shared this slightly less scientific “infographic” about a doctor’s day).
Hey you, stop what you are doing and deal with me!
Sending someone an email is sending them a task. And, according to the folks at Boomerang, it’s pretty complicated task. We don’t have control over our inbox. Anyone can push a task on the top. You have to read it and act on it, even if the action is to delete the note. That’s a pretty impersonal thing to do, even if it’s masked in the prose of a long-hand style letter.
Some alternatives to eMail:
- Text messages and Twitter DMs – since they aren’t rooted in old traditions, people are freer to get to the point and move on.
- Google Docs, Dropbox, iCloud, SharePoint – eMail is an ineffective way to share files. In effect, it copies them, forking their contents and versions across each recipient. Instead, we can use document collaboration and management tools.
- Facebook and Twitter – low barrier to messaging and low barrier to consumption. You don’t have to act on a facebook or twitter post, you simply read it and move on. There’s no filing, replying (unless you want to), sorting, deleting, etc. Time it takes to check facebook: 10 minutes. Take that eMail!
- Secure portals (EG: Electronic Medical Records w/ patient access) – sometimes you need to send a note and sometimes security and privacy matter. Keeping health-related dialogues within the patient record also help keep the record contiguous.
- FaceTime, Skype, Google Plus Hangouts – hey, at least its more personal than email. Just don’t call me before I’ve had my morning dose of caffeine please.
*Boomerang is apparently a commercial service add-on for Google’s Gmail.