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

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A World Without Email – Year 2, Week 22 (How to Stop E-Mail From Ruining Your Summer Vacation)

In the recent past I mentioned how I was going to space out the various different blog posts related to this new reality of mine of living "A World Without Email", where over 17 months ago I decided to stop making use of corporate email at work, and, instead, use more heavily social software tools, both internal and external.

Well, today I am going to make an exception and I am going to go ahead and share some further thoughts on the weekly progress report from last week, week 22, more than anything else, because it will also allow me to share with you folks something I thought was worth while mentioning from this week, as opposed to have to wait for a couple of weeks from now.

But to get things going here is the weekly progress report snapshot from last week, so you have a chance to see what happened:

A World Without Email - Year 2, Week 22

As you would be able to see, for a good number of weeks now it looks like my weekly incoming count of emails has reached that plateau of between 20 to 25 emails a week, averaging around 5 a day and therefore still consistently less than this time of the year last year, where the average was around 30 emails approx. a week.

Things are looking good with no strange surprises and still going down consistently and thinking that if things would go on like this I will be very very close to regularly hit the below 20 emails a week mark I proposed to myself as a follow up challenge for this year. So something to look forward to over the next few months, although I can tell you that this week has been quite different! But that’s the story for another blog post.

What made this blog post an exception though in my new regular blogging series on this topic of giving up on email was a specific article that got published this week and which I think most folks interested in this topic would find it a nice read, too!

Gran Canaria - Pozo de las NievesIf a little bit over a year ago I reached that massively huge milestone, with this back then experiment of Thinking Outside the Inbox, having an article published in the NYTimes under the title "I Freed Myself From E-Mail’s Grip" (Which I blogged about a couple of times), this year is no different!

A couple of days back I managed to get another article published on this very same subject over at CIO.com, although seeing the time of the year I thought about giving it another flavour, one that I am sure most of us could relate to. The title of the article is "How to Stop E-Mail From Ruining Your Summer Vacation" and as you may have seen already it was also syndicated by Computerworld and IT Business Canada.

In that article, I reflected quite a bit on that new flavour I mentioned I gave to this new piece, which is basically the various different issues we face every summer when confronted with the everlasting dilemma of whether we should enjoy our holidays away from everything, rewinding and charging our batteries, or take our work with us in the shape of a laptop, a Blackberry or whatever mobile device. Yes, *that* difficult to answer dilemma we face every single year and from which we never seem to learn.

Well, this time around I tried to do something different; so while putting it together I reflected on the kinds of interactions I usually do without using corporate email and still get the job done. So I went through each and everyone of them and picked up what I thought were the best tips to share from what I am doing on a regular basis to help other folks tame the email beast, escape its yoke once and for all and truly enjoy the well deserved holiday break, where I am sure we can think of better things to do than going through email, don’t you think?

Thus to such extent, I am not going to reproduce the entire article itself; I would encourage you all thought to go over to "How to Stop E-Mail From Ruining Your Summer Vacation" and read through it, but for now I will want to go ahead and, as a teaser, share with you what some of those tips are, so you can get an idea of what to expect from the article:

  1. "Probably the biggest productivity gain you can make is to avoid e-mail for filesharing
  2. Put your project status reports in a wiki
  3. Are people asking you the same question again and again?
  4. Do you e-mail a newsletter?
  5. This may sound tricky, but avoid e-mail for thank-you notes
  6. Avoid "flame" e-mails altogether
  7. Train people around you to follow these hints"

I am sure you would be able to find plenty of other nuggets I tried to get across on that article on what it has meant for me to live "A World Without Email" while at work, throughout all of these months; the challenges, the lessons learned, the many advantages, the overall experience in itself and, at the same time, still enjoy my offline time with what really matters: my well deserved, relaxing and nurturing vacation. But how about yours? Still thinking about going this summer on "staycation"? Hopefully not …

(From here onwards, and to wrap up today’s blog post, I would also like to give a BIG thanks to my fellow IBM colleague Colleen Haikes whose great help, support, patience and further advice have been rather instrumental in helping the original article see the light. So many many thanks, Colleen! I thoroughly enjoyed the experience! Much appreciated!)

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