Giving up on Work e-mail – Status Report on Week 41 to 43 (The Yo-Yo Effect)

Gran Canaria - Barranco de MaspalomasAnd we are back again! Well, better said, I am back again! Back at my regular blogging activities, after having gone through my last business trip of the year, i.e. to Rotterdam, The Netherlands, to participate on the superb Dutch Innovation Platform event, for which I am already working through putting together a couple of blog posts with some of the highlights I went through and experienced, along with other events I have been to this year and which I am hoping to be able to share them accordingly shortly. They are still there, so not to worry, I haven’t forgotten. Things have just been busy and with all of the travelling and year end activities you can imagine where my mind has been lately …

But today I thought I would go ahead and resume those blogging activities by tapping into the weekly progress report from my giving up on e-mail, which, in case you are wondering, it is still going rather strong and with no outlook to go back any time soon! Thus, even though I may not have blogged about it just recently, it doesn’t mean I have giving up altogether on the whole thing. Quite the contrary.

Main reason why I haven’t blogged on the topic for a while is because I have been watching a phenomenon happening right as we speak and for which I just cannot find a good explanation for at this point in time and it looks like it is expanding into this current week we are on. Yes, it is about something that I have started to call it the yo-yo effect and which surely is helping bring plenty of puzzlement for myself and a few other folks who have been wondering about the same thing.

Nevertheless, instead of me detailing some more what’s been happening over the last three weeks, i.e. week 41, 42 & 43 I thought I would go ahead and share with your those progress reports over here in the usual way, but with these three grouped together:

Fighting e-mail - Progress Report - Week 41

Fighting e-mail - Progress Report - Week 42

Fighting e-mail - Progress Report - Week 43

As you would be able to see, there has been a yo-yo effect which I am yet to explain where it comes from, because there hasn’t been anything special taking place for it to be there. So I am not sure how that came up. Either way, you would be able to see how for week 41 the total number of incoming e-mails was 43; for week 42 it was 26 and, finally, for week 43 the total number was 37. Rather interesting to try to figure out a pattern for that to happen, but so far it is failing in me to figure it out. And even worse when this week the yo-yo effect continues and this time around on the low side of things! Oh, well, I will trying to figure out and see how it goes. The interesting thing is that the average incoming count of e-mails hasn’t gone up tremendously high as I suspected it may have happened due to the time of the year. Alas, it looks like things have been rather different than what I thought! Oh well, we shall see if I can figure it out.

For now though I thought as well I would wrap up this blog post sharing with you folks a couple of very interesting entries I have bumped into from my good friend Dennis Howlett (Who is probably starting to enjoy LeWeb in Paris this week! *wave*), who, a little while ago, has finally decided to take some action in handling some of the interactions that arrive through his e-mail address and move them elsewhere outside his Inbox. Does it ring a bell?

Check out “Email is driving me crazy” and from there onwards head over to “Why I’ve blown the PR gaff“, to get a little bit of background and some further insights on some of the stuff that I am sure most of you folks would feel identified with. In this particular case, the fascinating stuff is not that Dennis has put together two really nice blog posts, but something that I consider much more important and relevant for what I have been doing all along: recognising there is a problem with e-mail and finally decide to do something about it!

I did that over 10 months ago and I don’t regret it a single time! It has been quite an experience! Acknowledging there was a problem with my Inbox in how it was controlling my own productivity for me versus myself dictating what it would be like was just the first step towards what I have achieved from there onwards. And I am really glad to see how Dennis has started that path as well. So from here onwards I will be following up on his progress and see how he is doing on that innovative approach to move away from his e-mail by making use of various other tools, like Twitter. Best of luck, Dennis! I am there with you, my friend! Hang in long enough and then there would be no way back!

However, the interesting thing about Dennis’ blog posts was eventually the comments from the first entry where John Reed shared an excellent piece with some very sound advice on how he himself has also been reducing his incoming e-mail count and I surely was inspired by reading his commentary, because he was just sending out a very loud and clear message that everyone can tame their e-mail beast and make out of it what they had envisioned in the first place. Here are a couple of interesting quotes from John that I thought were worth while mentioning over here as well:

One thing is that any emails I get on general SAP career questions, I tend to respond more briefly and point them to relevant links on my site. Or, I will create a longer email if it is a good new question, turn that into an article, and point folks there the next time around. So, creating content that serves as “FAQ” is always good to reduce general inquiries.

Or

Another thing that has helped me is to realize that as important as it is to respond to client questions, I’m better off limiting my email sessions to a couple a day. So, after a certain point in my day I shut off my email. Twitter has helped me here as I let clients know they can find me all the time on Twitter if they need anything. The reason limiting the amount of email sessions is important is because many email correspondences are just longer conversations and the more email you send, the more you accelerate those conversations. Limiting the frequency of my own email sessions is helpful and folks know that while I will respond to email almost every day, they shouldn’t think of it as an instant ping”

To, finally, wrap up the commentary with these equally wise words:

I tend to keep my email responses to the short side, to create more efficiency on an email-by-email basis [...]

Thus as you would be able to see, plenty of common sense and a very good strategy put in place on how John keeps his e-mail count to a reasonable amount, or, at least, with a lot less noise than ever before. Which reminds me of something I keep getting confronted with over and over again. Reducing your e-mail count of incoming e-mails is not something that any system is going to help you out with. It is all about you; it is all about your willingness to challenge your Inbox, to fix what may be broken, to try to amend a situation that is becoming more difficult to sustain day in day out; to find a way to regain back your own productivity versus that one of others. In short, to challenge and figure out a way to help improve the way you interact with your connections, because there is always a chance that there would be something out there way better than e-mail!

Both John and Dennis, not just me alone anymore, are proving it is possible to do it. Yes, it may take time; yes, it may take some initial effort; yes, it may take more energy than you can anticipate, but hang in there. Hang in there tight for the initial storm to take place, because, before you know it, the calm will settle right in, and from there onwards there is no way back! You would no longer be able to say that you are being overwhelmed by your incoming e-mail. Key question though for you folks out there … Are you willing to take back control? … It is your choice!

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