Giving up on Work e-mail – Status Report on Week 6

And like every Friday, here I am again, folks, putting together this particular blog post to detail what my week has been like, trying to escape work related e-mail and divert, accordingly, most of the conversations into the social computing world. This week would be the sixth in a row since I got started with this new experiment and so far it has been one of the most interesting, more than anything else because for the first time in all of those weeks, I have now found out what may be the one and only reason why I might give up on this initiative and go back to good old e-mail! Here is a screen shot of this week’s report that I have uploaded into my Flickr account and which will you a hint or two on what happened:

I bet you have seen already what has happened during this week. Yes, indeed, my weekly intake of e-mails has gone sky high to a whopping 41 e-mails a week! Coming from 35, lowest number so far, from last week! Yes, I know that for most folks 41 e-mails a week would be something like paradise, but to me it is actually quite a substantial change, specially since I hit the lowest number of incoming e-mails last week with 35. And the funny thing is that up until today I just couldn’t figure it out why that was, till I was putting together an internal blog post on something completely different and it hit me big time!

So here it goes, here is the main reason why the number of e-mails has gone rather high this week, compared to other weeks: social software!!! Yes, that is right! The same social software tools that I have been using all along are the ones that have increased my weekly intake of e-mails! Can you imagine that? How did that happen? Well, because of something that is just so simple, that everyone takes it for granted: performance & availability!

As you can imagine, inside IBM we have got a rather robust corporate e-mail infrastructure that has been going strong for a good number of years. In fact, I cannot remember the last time when my Lotus Notes e-mail was down! However, I cannot say the same thing about some of the social software tools we use. Yes, that is a right. A good number of those various social tools are actually still running in pilot servers, while we test them and take them to the extreme, and with very limited support. Yes, the everlasting flavour of beta! And this week it has incredibly difficult for some of these tools because they have been more down than up, and when up rather slow! Yes, I know, one of those weeks that I am sure you folks could relate to as well.

So, the immediate consequence from that is that when people needed to get across through to me, they would be making use of whatever the social software tool we regularly use and instead of sharing the info they would not be able to because of those performance issues and they all diverted to what they know works consistently: e-mail! OUCH!!!

Yes, that is right, that is how I felt!! So it looks like from all of the different hurdles that I thought I would be confronted with, i.e. learning curve, user adoption, facilitation, cultural changes, open / public vs. private interactions, confidentiality, etc., it seems that it would be social software after all the one that may force me to give up in the end… Too funny, eh? Well, I hope that this was just a bad week for the infrastructure of those social software tools, because if it continues to be like this repeatedly, then I need to come up with a backup plan!

Oh, you were expecting me to say that I would eventually give up? NO WAY!!! I have seen the light and I will not back out from it. Yes, this was a rough week, but I got through it still eventually with a zero inbox and hardly any effort. Yes, I had to be a bit extra patient, but I am good at that, or so I am told. I understand that folks may contact me again through e-mail first, but then again, as soon as they see that those social software tools are up and running again, we would be going back to where we left it last week, i.e. the lowest number of incoming e-mails I received ever!

So, not a chance I will give up. I will still keep pushing for it, the pros clearly outnumber the cons and I am surely looking forward to seeing what happens next week, when I will be having Monday off and will surely be a rather busy week with the end of the first quarter of 2008 coming up! What do you think? Will the pilot servers and infrastructure hold up or will it just go down from here onwards and will have to implement that backup plan, which, by the way, will have to do quite a bit with living outside of the firewall, heh … What do you think? Were all of those weeks a dream and all of a sudden I got a painful wake-up call or will things go back to normal and that incoming number of e-mails will go down? We shall see…

Happy Easter to everyone who is celebrating and have a GREAT weekend!

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5 Comments »

  • [...] My IBM sparring partner Luis Suarez is trying valiantly to give up email. He’s created a spreadsheet to record how far he has got in his efforts to divest himself.  This week was not good but he explains why: [...]

  • Jon Mell says:

    Hi Luis – I know you have found my blog where I commented about this. Someone has got back to me to ask how much of the time you have saved is being spent on social media tools in order to give a feel for “net” time saved. Would you be interested in co-writing a blog post (maybe in the form of an interview?) in response?

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  • Luis Suarez says:

    Hi Jon! Thanks a bunch for dropping by and for the feedback! Yes, not only have I found your blog post, where I will be commenting on shortly, but I have already subscribed to your own blog as well. You had me in the blogroll with my ITtoolbox blos and missed it, so I have fixed that right away.

    I would love to go ahead and co-write a blog post, or even better, if you would want to we could get together on Skype and recording the conversation and make a podcast out of it, where we can spend 20 to 25 minutes explaining how I am actually doing it and how much time I am spending on social software tools. What do you think? Would that work for you?

    I will drop by your blog post now and share some further thoughts in there… Thanks again for the feedback and for the additional comments! Appreciated

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  • [...] If you remember, last week the various different social computing tools weren’t as reliable as this week, where they have been working rather acceptable so far, yet, I failed to cut down on my incoming take of work related e-mails. And, like I have been saying all along, it is not the fault of the experiment itself, but more my own fault. Why? Because for the last few months I have been working with a specific approach where I treat very aggressively meetings & conference calls and just this week for those two days I was a bit more relaxed about it and it got out of control! Well, never again!! [...]

  • [...] Death to work e-mail: with one exception . . . (personal, private/sensitive e-mails from one person to you) The rest??  Put it in some decent social software tool.  Cool. Here are the posts: Week 1 (the announcement) | Week 3 | Week 6 | Week 7 [...]

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