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

From the blog

A World Without Email – Year 2, Week 1 (Off to the Next Challenge!)

Gran Canaria - Maspalomas Dunes' SunsetAnd so we move forward into the next challenge on my quest of eventually giving up on e-mail at work. Yesterday, February 15th, it marked the first anniversary of that original entry where I was mentioning how it was time for me to take things in the next level with regards to my own adoption of social software, both inside and outside of the corporate firewall. And from there onwards, it surely has been quite a ride! Over the last few months most of you folks have been following the weekly progress reports I have been sharing and although I am not very much in favour here are a couple of statistics you may be interested from the final yearly report:

Fighting e-mail - Progress Report - Week 52

1647 the total number of incoming emails over at 52 week period, averaging 31,6 emails a week, 4,5 emails a day during those 52 weeks! With a highest number of 60 emails in a single week, and 3, the lowest number in a single week as well. I suppose if you take 3 minutes per email I guess I spent around 13,5 minutes a day working through my corporate email; or if you take, say, 10 minutes per complex email, I suppose I have spent 45 minutes per day maximum, although I can certainly confirm with you most of the days it’s been on the 13,5 minutes than in the 45 minute range!

Amazing stats, eh? Yes, indeed! I could surely agree with you on that one! That’s why half way through the mid-year, when I started working on this, I truly realised about the huge amount of time I was saving to then dedicate it to engaging with my various social networks & communities nurturing the various different relationships to get the job done much faster, much more efficient and with a lot less effort. Yes, motto I have been using for a long while now: work smarter, not necessarily harder!

It is not that I have freed up time to then be lazing around doing nothing. Quite the contrary, I have been interacting with my networks more than ever before and that, to me, has meant I have got a stronger sense of belonging, of ownership, of commitment, of involvement, of responsibility on getting the job done in a collaborative effort. And, boy, has that been a wonderful trip over the last few months!!

To such extent that I am already getting started with year 2 of my giving up on e-mail at work, and thought I would share with you a few words on what lies ahead for me as my next challenge. You would have to bear with me for a little bit, since this looks like it may be an article on the longer side of things, but I think it would be worth it. Gran Canaria - Degollada De Las Yeguas

To start with, I have already started it. I am already on Week 1 of what I have decided to now call "A World Without Email". Yes, indeed, I think it is possible to work on a corporate environment without email and this is the year I’m going to prove it once again! Notice though that, once more, I am not saying email is dead (For me anyway); what I am just saying is that I am going to continue progressing further on my move to stop using email and use social software instead as my primary means of connecting, sharing my knowledge and collaborating with others. I do realise though every now and then I may still use email for those 1:1 interactions of a sensitive / confidential nature that perhaps some social software tools may not be able to handle. But still my new challenge is to go well below the limit of 20 emails a week and perhaps just use email to process calendaring and scheduling events. Nothing else!

And I thought I would share with you folks the weekly progress report for Year 2, Week 1, from last week:

A World Without Email - Year 2, Week 1

Already on target for my next challenge, as you can see: 20 emails or less! In this case, 16 for the entire week, last week! With the highest peak happening last week Wednesday and the rest of the week keeping a very nice and low average compared to last year! Certainly, on the right track! Yay!

But that’s not where I am stopping. This is where you come in now folks. As part of my second year on this quest to eventually give up on corporate email, over the next few weeks I am surely planning on sharing with you all of the various details on the social software / productivity tools I am currently use to help me get rid of my Inbox. I have already gotten things started, but will continue to be like that throughout, so that you, too, can play with those tools I am using to see if they could work for you, just as well as they do with me.

Gran Canaria - Maspalomas Dunes' SunsetAlso, I am planning on sharing with you folks different various techniques on the implications of moving away from email, so that you yourselves could take on this challenge as well. That way you would be able to see how you could go and venture into trying it out, i.e. say, giving up on email for a week and don’t feel the pain. Quite the opposite! You will see… Stay tuned for more information details to come through, because it surely promises to be plenty of good fun!

And, finally, something that I have been thinking about already for a little while, which is getting your direct input / feedback on what you would like to see on these weekly reports I keep sharing over here. And to get things going, I’d like to throw some ideas out there for you to comment on what you would like to see in these posts as well as the frequency. Yes, as I you may have seen, this year is going to be about getting you to move away from email and I am surely more than happy to help you out doing that! So here’s what I am asking you to think about on what you would like to see from here onwards:

  • Frequency of posts: Typically, I have been posting on a weekly basis on about the progress reports. Should I continue with that frequency? Perhaps switch it to bi-weekly or even monthly? What would be your expectations in this area?
  • Include additional links on the same topic: Usually, I would get to put together these blogs posts adding additional interesting and relevant links to what I am doing. Are you finding those useful? Shall I continue cross linking to them as part of the progress reports? (My initial preference is Yes, as it enriches the conversations, but would love to hear your thoughts on it)
  • Statistics you would like to see: You know I am typically sharing the numbers of total amount of incoming emails on a weekly basis. Is there anything else you would want to see? (I know a couple of folks have mentioned in the past they would want to know the number of social interactions I get involved on a daily basis, to contrast one against the other, but not sure how to include these, since capturing all of those as part of the reports would probably be much more time consuming than eventually getting the job done interacting!) So what would you like to see in those reports? Can we shape something else that could be meaningful for you?
  • Can you give up email for a week: Yes, this is the part where I am going to share my experiences on how you can give up email yourself, but I would need you to share with me what are your main pain points, challenges, issues with your day to day email interactions. What is it that you would want to be done with, but keeps dragging more and more. Share with me those items and I will show you how to walk away from them. If I have been able to move away from email myself, so can you! So let’s get you going! Let’s get rid of those issues for good!
  • Finally, challenge me!: This is probably where all of the good fun would start! You know I have been without email at work for over a year, but I am sure you may have questions about my approach and everything, right? Go ahead and share them. Test my experiment. Make it yours! Share why you think it wouldn’t work with you in the first place and see if between both of us we can get you out of that loop. There is a great chance the issues you are encountering are issues I have seen / experienced myself in the past. So let me help you address and fix them. Like I said, if I have been able to do it, why not you, right? Let’s do it!

As you would be able to see, a rather long blog post. Not to worry, next ones would be on the shorter side, for sure! Just wanted to set the stage on what my next challenge is going to be for this year: while I continue to stay away from email, help you start moving gradually as well from those endless (And sometime pointless) conversations happening through email that could probably have a better place elsewhere, i.e. social software!

Are you ready to enter this new challenge? Are you ready to finally liberate yourself from the tedious yoke email is? Let me help you then! 😉 Gran Canaria - Degollada De Las Yeguas

Oh, and to finish up this rather lengthy blog post, here is an interesting reading I bumped into the other day, which I am sure is going to shed some light on that challenge you are about to embark yourself on … Through a tweet from David Sky, I discovered Her 30-day e-mail detox, where Oprah herself challenged her email system and decided to question it for a month. Read further on it and see what she got out of the experience. Rather thought-provoking and revealing, I can tell you. If she has been able to do it for a month, imagine what’s like not having to worry about it anymore for over a year and counting!

Yes, indeed! … Welcome to (my and, hopefully, yours, too!) "A World Without Email"!

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    1. Hi Andy! Thanks for the feedback comments and for adding further up! Well, I tend to use several social software tools, both internal and external, but all of them depending on the context of the interactions. So some times I use my blogs, others Twitter, or Facebook, or a wiki, or just IM. Like I said, it pretty much depends on the context, but surely most of those interactions still happening outside email.

      Stay tuned because of the next few weeks I will be sharing some social software tools tips for those I use the most on a regular basis and you would be able to see the context in which I use them as well as describing their usage itself. Thanks again for the commentary!

  1. Luis,

    Apart from the qualitative advantages of using other forms of communication than email, what are the quantitative advantages?

    Have you been able to measure specific time savings by not using emails. e.g savings by not having to deal with spam etc, savings in time because other forms of communication take less time on average.

    What I would like to understand is what is the nett time saving (measured in person hours or days) over the entire year by not using emails.

    1. Hi Ian! Great comments as well and surely agree with you about that “time saved” to add into the equation. However, I am not sure the data would be relevant, because the time I am saving in not using email is not time that goes by without anything happening. On the contrary, that free time gets re-invested back into the social software spaces where I hang out with my teams, communities and networks helping others, as well as myself, get the job done.

      However, as an indication, I have just put together a blog post detailing the weekly progress reports for weeks 2 to 5 (Available here), and here are some interesting facts you may find relevant to your query:

      On the first five weeks from when I started this experiment in 2008 I received a total amount of 198 emails. Take into account around 3 minutes to handle each of those emails (And that could perhaps include handling spam, archiving of emails, more or less complex emails) and it will tell you the time I saved in processing those.

      Then in the first five weeks of 2009’s experiment take into account I have received 106. Do the same math of 3 minutes per email and you will see how I have spent half the time, from that time!, processing email, coming nowadays to an average of 13 to 15 minutes a day processing email.

      Hope that helps you get some idea of the kind of “time savings” I have gone through, but, like I said, these time savings are more along the lines of reinvested time into collaborating within my communities / teams / networks spaces.

      Thanks again for the feedback comments. Greatly appreciated!

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