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 52 (On Reply to All – Again!)

Gran Canaria - Maspalomas DunesAs I am about to finish with another Monday, on another busy week at work, I thought I would share some of the excitement of what I have been going through over the last couple of weeks. Yes, indeed, it is time again for that blog post with information details on the weekly progress report about my quest to giving up e-mail at work, but this time as well reflecting on a major milestone I will be sharing shortly with you folks.

If you have paid close enough attention to the title of the blog post you would realise that the post I’m putting together relates to week 52, yes, week 52!! of this particular experiment, which I would say is more of a new reality for me, and that means that last week it marked the one year I have been giving up on e-mail altogether! Yes, one year without e-mail at work! Yay!

Well, to be more precise, the actual date of when I started with this quest was February 15th 2008, so I still have got a few more days to enjoy such exciting anniversary. I never thought I would be saying this, but I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since I decided to make that blunt move and give up on e-mail altogether!

A lot has happened since that date and over the course of the next few days, and in between other blog posts, I am going to share a number of different insights on what the whole experience has been and what I plan on doing for the second year as my next challenge. Thus stay tuned for some more to come, as I am sure you will find it rather interesting.

For now, though I thought I would share with you folks the progress report from last week, week 52, which I can tell is a rather interesting one, because it is highlighting one trend I am starting to see repeat itself more and more. But without much further ado, here it is:

Fighting e-mail - Progress Report - Week 52

The incoming count of e-mails is settled on the usual average I have been getting over the last few months. This time around on 36 e-mails. The interesting trend that I see coming up is how both Mondays and Fridays seem to be the quietest days of the week in terms of e-mails received whereas the rest of the week, they are not. To the point where last week they triggered me to tweet the following nugget:

"Confirmed: Mondays people *do* some work; Fridays they prepare for the weekend; rest of the week they overload you with emails! #toti"

It is a trend which is going to be a rather interesting challenge; to see whether I can confirm if it is the case or not, but so far it feels like it. And pretty much so! Let’s see how it goes from there.

For now though, I am going to share with you folks an interesting couple of links, talking about the same subject, which I am sure is going to grab your attention. I first got alerted about it by my good friend Livio Hughes, Director and co-founder of Headshift, through one of his tweets; then I got another alert from a fellow IBMer, and good friend as well, Ed Brill, who blogged it at "TechCrunch: Nielsen Deletes Reply-To-All Button". Livio’s tweet pointed me to this piece by Dylan Stableford: "Dunder Mifflin Alert! Nielsen to Disable Employees’ ‘Reply to All’ E-mail Functionality".

Both articles talk about a rather blunt move by Nielsen, where from a specific date onwards, January 29th 2009, the (in)famous "Reply to All" button was going to be disabled, so that no-one would be able to make use of it any longer! Talking about bold moves, eh? This would pretty much nail it, as far as I can see.

You would be able to see the reasoning directly from either of both links mentioned above, including the communication that got sent out announcing such initiative, but one thing that I have found interesting, and rather fascinating, is the negative response of the commentary throughout, thinking that it may have been just far too bold by itself. Well, in my experience, i.e. not having used e-mail in the last year, I can certainly confirm that I would be more than happy to join that initiative and forget about the "Reply to All" button altogether! The amount of wasted time, unnecessary increase of incoming e-mails and the overall abuse certainly makes me feel that such button, along with that one to attach files, are the two biggest time wasters from every single e-mail conversation you may engage with!

What would be interesting to see, and witness, is, for such initiatives as that one from Nielsen, what it would be like running it for a short period of time, say, a week or two, and see how people would react and interact. I bet it would achieve exactly what I have been trying to say all along: think before you send that e-mail, because there is a great chance there would be better ways to share the message across!

Thus well done, Nielsen! Great to see how you pushing the limits and, although you may not go that very far, seeing the dependency some folks seem to have on their e-mail systems, I surely want to take this opportunity to thank you for challenging our traditional methods of work within the enterprise, because you have certainly shown us there is a problem, and we need to do something about it. Or, at least, try!

Are you? Are you ready to challenge the way you interact at work through e-mail? Could you live without "Reply to All" for a week? If your answer is Yes!, why aren’t you doing it then? 😉

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  1. Not necessarily it means that people work on Mondays, It might be that on Mondays they read their backlog mail from the week before…

    That said I still think email works well if you use it well. The hindlying problem is probably knowing very well what to work on and who to involve. Even if everyone would use other online tools, many people would get confused.

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