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

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Giving up on Work e-mail – Status Report on Week 12

Goodness! I cannot believe it’s been three months already! Three months since my working life became ever so much more productive than ever before! Three months since I decided that enough was enough and made the blunt move of giving up on e-mail, i.e. work related e-mail. Three months since I decided that it’s about time social software gets a chance to enhance the way I work. And, boy, has it surely been quite a ride! They say that time flies when you are having fun, and, as I am putting together this blog entry with the weekly progress report, I guess that certainly has been the case.

As I have mentioned at the beginning of the week, this was going to be quite an interesting week, since for the first time in 11 years I have been working in the IT field, I have just been enjoying the rare occasion of having three national bank holidays in a row, followed by the weekend, while the rest of my colleagues have continued working as usual. Thus you would expect that things may have been relatively busy, or, at least, just as good as it has been over the last few weeks, right? Well, things have been even better! Here is the weekly progress report screen shot:

WOW! 27 e-mails! Yes, that is right! A new low in the total amount of incoming e-mails for a single week! Sweet!  If I was ever looking for a nice way to celebrate the three months mark since I started with this new experiment I guess I couldn’t, perhaps, have a better one. I am not even sure whether I should continue calling it an experiment any longer, since it has already become a reality for me, at least. Three months, I guess, is a good time to stop calling it that way and start looking for something else. Or just simply venture into implying a new way of interacting, collaborating and sharing your knowledge with other knowledge workers. Either way, not too worried about looking out for definitions 😉

For the rest not much more to share at this point in time, except for one particular gem I keep bumping into from various other folks who have been blogging about it and which I think would make an interesting connection with this particular blog post. For quite some time now, one of the questions that I keep coming up against all over the place is how do I keep up with everything that is going around in the social computing space? Most folks seem to think it is easier to manage your time through e-mail than through social software, when to me it is quite the opposite. It is way easier, and much more effective, to manage your time through social computing tools than through e-mail. And now there is something else I can refer folks to that could help answer the question quite nicely as well.

Check out Clay Shirky‘s keynote session over at the recent Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco where you would be able to listen / read about some really fascinating stuff that Gina Trapani, over at Lifehacker, has put together quite nicely as a very thought-provoking summary in Where You Find the Time to Spend Online:

"We’re waking up from the "collective bender" of mindlessly watching sitcoms and instead, we’re choosing instead to spend our free time volunteering, interacting, and Web 2.0’ing online."

Just.Spot.On!!! And the same would apply to me, except that instead of T.V., which I rarely watch anyway, to be honest, it’s the time I save on processing / working through work e-mail that helps me free up enough time to collaborate and share my knowledge with other knowledge workers using social software tools. Because, after all, how much time do you spend on a daily basis working through your e-mail. One sitcom? Two? Three sitcoms perhaps? 😉

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  1. Hi Luis, fantastic to hear about your continued success with this effort! This is awesome!! Just curious, have you also been tracking the number of interactions you have outside your email? Your experience and reports are obviously compelling – but would be even more complete if there was some way to get insight on the sum total of communications/interactions because a key part of your exercise is moving email communications into other social software and tools, right? So ideally we’d expect to see interaction in those other tools increasing over time too?

    In other words, how can we answer a sceptic who suggests that what you’re seeing is just a simple (lucky) dropoff in email?

    (by the way, is it possible to include any stats from the week before you started week 1? or is that data lost?)

  2. Hi Kapil! Thanks a bunch for the feedback comments and for the information details! With regards to your question above on tracking the number of interactions outside IBM, I haven’t done that and haven’t thought about it just yet, I am afraid, more than anything else because I know it would be taking me quite a substantial amount of time to keep track of the numbers vs. just getting the job done. To give you an example: IM interactions is about 20 to 30 a day, blog posts, comments, Beehive interactions, BlueTwit / Twitter exchanges, Activities, Wiki & Quickr updates, etc. etc. I would be calculating around 100 interactions on a daily basis and seriously thinking that if I would track those down in the exact same numbers as I have been doing for e-mail I would probably be spending more time managing it all than getting the job done. So, as you can see, not much of an incentive for me in there. And besides that, I am interesting in keeping my e-mail count to zero, not in counting the total number of interactions. I am not worried about those, since they are taking place out in the open and public to everyone.

    Does that mean that since I started giving up on e-mail the number of interactions through other social software tools has gone up big time? Yes, it has, but the pace is quite all right, since it is allowing me to forget about e-mail and concentrate on the open conversations out there to get tasks / action items done.

    Hummm, not sure I would classify three months in a row as simple lucky dropoff in e-mail, when it has been over 12 months and as I result of what I am doing I am getting more work on presenting at events, writing articles, present at customer workshops, share knowledge and collaborate with other folks, etc. etc. I doubt it would be a lucky dropoff, specially since it’s been going on for so long on. I mean, don’t you think that three months consistently dropping off the total figures would be a bit more than a simple instance of a lower number of e-mails?

    Finally, when I was first getting started with this experiment on the first blog post I mentioned how back then I was getting an average of 30 to 45 e-mails day. I could go into the archives and provide some more concrete figures over the course of the last few months to provide that data, but again too much work for me to go there and grab it all, while I still have got a job to do, but the average of the 30 to 45 e-mails a day is pretty accurate from the last month or two before I got everything started.

    And last week, that total count of e-mails was down to 27 a week! Not bad. Not bad at all!

    Thanks again for the feedback!

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