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 13

As you would remember, today I am travelling to Hamburg, Germany, to spend the rest of the week in there, waiting for the 15th of May where I will be presenting at the Next 08 conference early in the afternoon and on the topic of "Thinking out of the Inbox – More Collaboration through less e-mail" (I am hoping to be able to share the slide deck shortly, by the way, in Slideshare, thus stay tuned!). And here I am on the plane, flying high up in the sky, getting ready to share with you my weekly progress report on my giving up on e-mail, i.e. work related e-mail. But before I go ahead with it allow me to spend a couple of minutes thinking out loud about something that has been in my mind for the last few days.

I twittered about it yesterday and got into a fascinating discussion, probably too short due to lack of time while I was getting everything ready for this trip, with a bunch of others who were sharing similar experiences. Just recently I keep getting this odd feeling of having neglected, and still neglecting somehow, this particular blog since my regular blogging activities are not as regular as I thought they would be nowadays. Yes, way at the beginning of having started this blog, I decided that I was going to keep things going for a long while trying to post daily sharing my thoughts on interesting conversations or initiatives I was getting involved with around the areas of Knowledge Management, Communities, Collaboration, Social Computing, amongst several others.

That motivation to keep posting and sharing those thoughts is still as intact as it was many years ago, and will continue to be so for many moons to come, however the lack of physical time to do it, due to all of this travelling, conference events, their corresponding presentations (And having to put them together, of course!), customer workshops / engagements, etc. etc. is starting to slow me down with my overall blogging activities. At least, that is the impression I am getting at the moment. And I don’t seem to be the only one…

I seem to recall how Tara Hunt, a.k.a. missrogue, mentioned at some point in time in her Twitter stream, how she was feeling along the same lines saying something like people were having all of the fun, while she was on a constant massive burst of conference events and meetings, and whatever other engagements, with customers talking about Social Computing that kept her busy to no end and without the opportunity to jam where all the fun was happening. Well, that’s how I feel at the moment myself after all of this travelling and everything. No, I am not getting tired of it, everyone who knows me well enough would tell you how fond I am of travelling, but from that to say almost every week you are going to be on the road it is quite a bit, I am sure! Yes, I am missing all of the good fun! Got lots of stuff to talk about and share, yet, very little time to do it properly, at least, in a way that I would feel comfortable with it.

So one of the suggestions from yesterday’s conversations in Twitter (Coming from Steve Matthews) was to actually continue blogging at that very same pace, but perhaps keeping things shorter, meaning that there would be less time spent in blogging and perhaps more focused towards just that particular idea shared thus far, specially while I am away. Yes, I am sure you all know how bad I am at keeping things short, this blog post is another good example, but I think Steve’s idea surely is worth while pursuing, why not? I think it would probably be better to actually create a shorter blog post with an idea or two than none at all, right? Thus I am going to give it a try and see if I can come back to all the fun!

But for now, and like I was saying at the beginning of the entry, and as a way of getting back into the fun, here you have got the details from the weekly progress report from my giving up on e-mail new reality. Already on week 13! Yesterday I had problems trying to upload the screen shot of the report into Flickr, but I am hoping that today things would work out all right. Here it is:

As you would be able to see the number of e-mails has gone up a little bit, but still within the target of between 30 to 40 e-mails a week. In this case 35 e-mails!, which I think is very very doable and still within what I was aiming for. However, one of the things that I am noticing is how over the last couple of weeks and, after seeing how the experiment has consolidated into a total success, I keep getting a number of e-mails with which I am not feeling very comfortable, because I don’t seem to be having a way to get rid of them for good. At least, just yet.

Yes, indeed, I am talking about e-mails that are related to scheduling, setting up and participating in conference events, customer meetings / workshops, specially when it is to show my own experiences on this new reality itself. I am thinking that if I would be able to find a way to reduce those I would be getting my number of incoming e-mails down to 15 to 20 a week. If not less! Yes! As massive as that!!!

So that got me started into thinking about a way of getting rid of those e-mails and divert them elsewhere. And it wasn’t easy, to be honest. John Tropea (One of my favourite bloggers in the Knowledge Management, Collaboration, Communities, Social Computing & Librarian 2.0 spaces and surely one of those bloggers to add to your blogroll in case you haven’t done so already!) put together, not long ago, a pretty impressive blog post under "Examples of re-purposing e-mail" and he already provides some hints as to what I could be doing, but I will comment more on that blog post as time goes by. Too good to just mention it over here and definitely one that would be worth while exploring further into building a wiki space, putting together all of those different examples as a way of showing everyone else how they can start doing it in small, but steady steps.

John seems to be inclined to make use of Lotus ConnectionsActivities for the calendaring and scheduling coming through e-mails and I must confess that I have thought about it, too, myself, as well as a couple of other options. I have been thinking as well that a forum, with a discussion group (i.e. Newsgroup) may be another option, but kind of walked away from that idea since the IBM Forums I am exposed to cannot protect entries that may be of a sensitive nature. Then I thought that a wiki, with protected access where needed / required, may be another option to go by, but perhaps too difficult for other folks to engage with.

However, Connections’ Activities seems like it is an ideal way out for me. More than anything else because they can host both public and private events discussions. Also the fact that they are fully integrated into Lotus Notes 8 and Sametime 8 allowing everyone I may be working with to set up one of them and then send it over across to me, so that I can chime in and share a thought or two on the topic. And right there we could consolidate all e-mails exchanged thus far, IM chats involved as well as well as attaching the corresponding files as the final output of the event, and if there are any feedback forms collected after the event they could also be shared over there.

Thus here we go. I think that I am going to settle down for Connections’ Activities and start making use of them to walk away from e-mail one step further, as a way to arrange all of these different events and see if I got it right as to how further more I could reduce my weekly incoming e-mail count.

Oh, did I mention how you could collaboratively work together with other folks on the same activity? Let’s see how it goes from here… Stay tuned for further updates and see what happens in upcoming weeks! In future progress reports I am sure I will have an opportunity to share with you my experiences on them.

Now, off we go, on to shorter blog posts while I am away travelling and see if I can keep up with a nice pace of those regular blogging activities that were once part of this specific blog. Although perhaps Darren Rowse may be right altogether. I may not need to blog on a daily basis any longer… What do you think?

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  1. I’d suggest freeing yourself from a blogging schedule and posting, when you can/want to. If you have too many posts to share per day, write them and post them, when you don’t have anything to say (unless they are really timely/urgent, of course).

    After I switched to writing well-researched articles, the amount of visitors and popularity of blog posts has increased. Simple short blog posts didn’t have the essence to be widely popular.

    Then again, we have Seth Godin, who shares plenty of short ideas/posts per day. This style works for him, though.

    Thus, I’d still say post as you like and you’ll end up at forming the writing schedule you will enjoy.

  2. Hi Yura, many thanks for the feedback comments and for dropping by! Lots of good stuff in there! That is quite fascinating input, because I have been hearing quite the opposite, how with shorter blog posts you end up having a higher readership because people can digest them quicker and then move on, I suppose, which is what you mean as well. Perhaps giving a bit more substance is a good thing, why not, so I will have a look and see how it goes. Must confess that I have never been too concerned with having thousands of readers on a daily basis or anything. I am not blogging because of that and those who know me can share perhaps some more details on it.

    I rather prefer to have a few readers who read and engage on most of the blog posts than several thousand people coming in, reading a line or two, and then moving on, so I think I am going to agree with your last sentence mentioned above! Thanks for helping confirm something I may have ignored for a bit: blogging should first meet your needs, then those of others 😀

    Thanks again for the feedback!

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