Reducing email

I noted last year that workers waste a lot of time doing useless activities, like managing unwanted communications, and suggested that the cause of the problem, digital overload, was also the potential solution: social media. The ROI for social media in business is quite obvious: reducing wasted time. That’s how we can also find the time for networked learning.

The Atlantic Monthly reports a similar study that shows workers spend 28% of their time managing email. They also spend another 33% of their week managing communications and gathering knowledge, which can probably be done more effectively and efficiently, if my observations are indicative of most businesses. Without becoming industrial-era efficiency experts or doing detailed time & motion studies, we can still look at redundant work tools and habits and find ways to replace them.

Reducing email seems to be a very good place to start, as Luis Suarez has described in a world without email.

3 Responses to “Reducing email”

  1. John Hunter

    I think reducing waste is good. Lots of email is waste, eliminating it is good. There is also lots of extremely useful email. I am not sure if others have much less effective email they deal with or they get so tired of the junk they just focus on the lousy waste of time. I get worried about the dumping email though. It is extremely useful in the right cases. Get rid of the waste but keep the value.

  2. Luis Suarez (@elsua)

    Hi Harold, my good friend Lee Bryant has been saying for a good number of years how one of the biggest use cases from social networking tools is how they help reduce friction when getting work done. Help avoid exception handling friction that happens through email, because the tools is not public, open and transparent enough to make those interactions flow freely without having to justify your work time and time again with your colleagues and even your boss.

    Through social networking there is an additional exercise of transparency that email doesn’t give you. It’s that narrate your work mantra, along with observable work that makes it worth it moving away from email (Agreeing strongly with John that email still has got a couple of good use cases!), because you are eventually reducing the amount of interactions you are doing by allowing folks to see what you are doing and learn from it. Why social learning is so powerful as it gets more and more embedded into day to day work practices.

    That’s exactly what I have been doing over the last 4 years and counting and I wouldn’t change it for anything nowadays, to be honest. I couldn’t do any kind of knowledge work without it anymore, I am afraid.

    Thanks much, once again, for the lovely blog post and for the link love! Much appreciated!


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