E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

From the blog

Giving up on Work e-mail – Status Report on Week 4

Here I am, once more, and like every week from now onwards, sharing with you all some further details on how my on-going fight against e-mail at the workplace is going. As you may have been able to see from the title of this entry, today concludes the fourth week in a row since I got started with this new initiative of moving away from work e-mail. And I must say that this week was actually one that I was really looking forward to, since it was going to be the first week I was going to be away from home the entire week and in disconnect mode most of the time presenting at various events and not knowing what my availability and Internet connection would be like.

Thus I had some reservations whether my plan to stay away from e-mail would work or not. In fact, I seriously thought that my incoming e-mails would be going sky high while I was away, but surprise, surprise, it hasn’t been like that at all! Incredibly exciting!

Even more when through Twitter and Sametime, a couple of folks pointed me to this particular BBC News article that I am sure you are going to find interesting: E-mail is ruining my life! where you can find a couple of gems that I thought would be really worth while sharing over here for what I have been trying to achieve all along:

"This technology [e-mail] also has its downside. It’s too easy to write an e-mail and hit the send button."

Or this other one:

""For me, e-mail is one of the most pernicious stressors of our time.""

However, one particular quote that I found incredibly relevant to what I had in mind for this particular mission on walking away from work e-mail and why, to me, there is no way back is this other one:

""Everybody started to think about what they were sending, who they were sending it to and whether they could use another method of sending the e-mail. So it had a very good immediate response, where people were actually thinking more about what they were doing.""

Yes, that is right! That’s exactly what I am trying to provoke when people keep sending e-mails along my way. If the subject of the e-mail is something of an OPEN and PUBLIC nature, I bet there would always be a much better and appropriate tool than just e-mail to make use of!  And if it is a social software tool, the magnifying and networking effects on it can then be tremendous! The fact this is my fourth week up and running proves the point that it can really work out all right despite seeing folks trying different things and failing after a short while.

I can imagine that it takes plenty of patience, perseverance, convincing and commitment to make it work, but from what you are about to see, I can certainly assure you it is worth it. *Very* worth it. And if not judge for yourselves:

Those are the results from the entire month of fighting e-mail!, and trying to make use of social software tools to achieve the same thing! If you think about the number I used to get before I got this started (An average between 30 to 45 e-mails a day!) and what I have been getting over the last four weeks, you can see that the differences are rather substantial, to say the least.

However, what I am really really excited about, and this is something that those of you who have been following this blog for a while may have seen already from the past, is that for the first time in a long long while (The 11 years I have been working in IBM!), this is going to be the first time that I am away from work for several days and when I get back home tomorrow afternoon, I have got NO E-MAIL BACKLOG waiting for me upon my return!!!

How cool is that? That, to me, is enough good reason to keep things going with it. More than anything else because in the next few weeks I will be travelling quite a bit and it is going to be very interesting to see how these numbers keep steady or keep going down. So far, now that I am done with the first month, things are working all right. Let’s see what happens on the second month. Then from next week onwards I shall start publishing the various different blog posts that I have already drafted on the different social software tools I keep using the most to get the job done, hoping that you may be able to leverage some of them. Why not? After all, we all want to get rid of unnecessary stress levels, right?

Stay tuned because next week I am back for more! Have a good one everyone!

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  1. Wait, how many emails were you getting per week BEFORE? An average between 30 – 45 a WEEK is nothing….????

  2. Ahh, I see 35-40 a day went to 35-40 a week. Pretty impressive.

    Though I would be happy at 40 a day (I am closer to 150 a day) – though that includes some listservs, a high percentage that I am just cc’d on, etc.

  3. Hi Luis, impressive experiment. I am still wondering how this would or could work for me (not being inside a corporation). I think I’ll know better when I have a better overview of the alternatives you use to answer questions etc. Especially because that requires different behaviour from your colleagues.

    I get some 100 e-mails a day, but never have e-mail back-log. I guess I am very good at ignoring e-mail, and hitting the mark all as read button. 🙂 If it’s important people will let me know anyway. Maybe it is the latter your experiment triggers in your colleagues, which I am just intuitively counting on?

  4. Thanks for blogging about your journey Louis, really given me food for thought on how we can reduce the overload in our organisation and specifically my own inbox…Keep it going!

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