About 6-7 years ago I was hanging out with my neighbor, talking about the future. He said that within a couple of years email was no longer going to be our primary way of communicating. I couldn’t imagine it.
Right now I have 242 unread messages in my unruly inbox. It’s a good day when I can get it down to 100. This is no way to live.
We’re drowning in email, and the data backs that up. We receive more than 100 work-related emails per day and that rate is growing at 15 percent. At that rate, we’ll be looking at nearly 200 per day within five years. That’s not sustainable. Something has to give. — Tech.co
Many problems in the workplace occur because of a breakdown in communication. Since we primarily use email, we continually fail to communicate well with each other. People get left off the email chain, misread or misinterpret things, forget to set their out-of-office, hits reply when they should have hit reply all, hits reply all when they should have hit reply. The list goes on.
The only way to keep productive energy flowing through this network is for everyone to continually check, send, and reply to the multitude of messages flowing past—all in an attempt to drive tasks, in an ad hoc manner, toward completion. If you step away from your human network router duties, the whole apparatus can grind into deadlock. — Harvard Business Review
Email is good for communicating information, but is not an effective tool for collaboration. If you’re not already using or experimenting with collaborative tools like Slack, Facebook Workplace, Trello, Basecamp, etc., you should start.
A few places to start:
- Identify a work team you are on and ask if they want to try using one of these new tools for the project you are working on.
- Start talking to IT about any policies that need to be changed to make way for new tools like this, such as your records retention policy.
Email is also terrible for conveying complex reasoning or resolving a misunderstanding. When in doubt, just meet with someone face-to-face. Not all meetings need to be 30 minutes or 1-hour, like Outlook says.
Do you hate email as much as I do? Then you’ll love reading How Email Became The Most Reviled Communication Experience Ever.
I now have 268 emails in my inbox.