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

From the blog

A World Without Email – Year 2, Weeks 38 to 41 (Why Do I Keep Doing This?)

Gran Canaria - Roque Nublo & SurroundingsI’m sure that, by now, you may be thinking that I may have abandoned this blog, since it has been nearly two weeks since the last post I have put together over here. Nothing further from the truth. There is actually a good reason why I haven’t been blogging during that time… Holidays! Yes, that’s right!, over last two weeks I have been on vacation trying to be disconnected from everything online, including this blog, hoping to be able to unwind, relax and recharge my batteries so that I could come back in full force once again. And it worked!

During that period of time I have managed to stay away from everything online related. Basically, what I did was go dormant in all of my virtual social networks and, instead, continue to nurture my physical ones. The real-life social networking. To my amazement I seem to have done a good job, since I even managed to stay away from Twitter throughout all that time! Yes, I know!, unbelievable! In a way I was relieved a great deal about the fact that during the time that I have been gone I even didn’t have the slightest urge to go online. And that’s good news, I would think. It shows that I’m not as addicted to the Internet as I thought I was. Phew!! (I guess that’s what happens when you have some stunning weather and very little time to be at home!).

But now it is time to go back to work. So last Friday was my first working day, which I spend most of the time catching up with things. And this week I am back into my usual self hanging out in various different social networks and, of course, back into my usual and regular blogging. Thus you can expect a bunch of blog posts coming up over the next few days…

It is funny. I was talking about it the other day in Twitter. Every time I take a longish holiday I end up thinking, pondering and wondering some more about my own involvement and behaviours while making use of various different social software tools. And time and time again I keep coming up with a new refined way of getting the most out of social networking, both inside and outside of the firewall, that I will be implementing from there onwards for myself.

And, like I said, this time around was no different. I went through the same thing, once again, i.e. thinking how I could refine my overall user experience of the various social computing tools that I use on a regular basis. But this time around it wasn’t pretty. Quite the opposite! Now I’m not going to blog about it just yet, since I still have to finalise a couple of thoughts, but, don’t worry, over the next few entries you will see what’s being in my mind in this area over the last couple of weeks…

For now though I thought I would resume my regular blogging activities sharing perhaps a few lines over what has been happening over the last few weeks, since I am way overdue from the last time that I’ve blogged about this topic. Yes, of course, I’m talking about the weekly progress reports on living "A World Without Email". I know I mentioned in my last blog post that I will be using my Posterous Web site to share how things have been going so far. Not to worry, that is still going to happen, but I thought I would make an exception today more than anything else to share with you one of the main, and the most important perhaps, reasons why over nearly two years ago I decided to give up on work related email.

But before we go into that I would love to share with you all what has been happening over the last few weeks… so check out the links for weeks #38, #39 and #40. Once you’re done, check out below the latest weekly progress report for week #41:

A World Without Email - Year 2, Week 41

As you may be able to see, the last time I blogged about the reports was for week #37, where I shared how for that very same week I received a whopping number of 35 emails. And from there onwards it has gone done consistently to around 20, approximately, per week. That’s not bad, in fact, not bad at all! However, the reason why I wanted to make an exception for this entry over here is because I would like you to take a look into the last two weeks that I mentioned above, weeks #40 and #41. And you will see where I’m heading …

Plenty of people out there keep wondering why I continue the fight of living "A World Without Email", as if I would still need to prove a point or something of the kind of impact that social software can have within the corporate world, or as if I am one of those folks who keeps saying "email is dead!" and that Enterprise 2.0 is as good as it gets and therefore forget altogether about email. It’s a waste of time.

Well, not really. At this point in time I don’t think I need to prove a point (Like I said, already coming closer to the end of the second year without using email at work and I am still there…); I also don’t think that email is dead. Quite the opposite! Still very much alive and kicking for the next few years. However, what will change, if not happening already, is how we make use of it as a knowledge sharing, collaboration and communication tool, how we are continuing to diversify it (And fragment it!) plenty more and how we are starting to understand it is not the only game in town. No, it’s not! It’s just one of the various dozens of options that we have got available.

So, you may be wondering, why do I keep doing it, right? Why do I keep fighting against the abuse and misuse of email at work? Why do I believe that we need to think before we send, yet again, another email? Well, check out, once again, the report of the last two weeks…

That was the time that I was away on holidays, totally disconnected, on purpose, from everything online and managing to stay away from it all. Yet I had a total number of 44 emails received for the two weeks (23 and 21, respectively). Whoaaahhh!!! You may be wondering that may well be though too many emails, but, then again, think about it: 44 emails in two weeks!! Under the usual circumstances I am sure that after that vacation period the number of incoming emails would be by the hundreds. Yet I didn’t even reach 50 throughout all of that time. That’s just amazing!

That, folks, is one of the main reasons why I keep doing this. It’s just priceless coming back to work, spend 20 minutes going through that email backlog, sort it out and move on. No need to spend a few hours, or even a couple of days!, trying to make sense of everything that has happened in your inbox. In my case it is all there, out in the open, with conversations coming back and forth happening in such an environment where I’m no longer the bottleneck. Work has moved on. So have I. Moving with the flow and no longer having that feeling that yet again I would need another holiday just to catch up from the holidays. No, that’s no longer there. Instead, I am just back to work. Fully reenergised, no stress handling hundreds of emails trying to catch up, and already feeling I am back to work without that strong sense I am wasting my time going through plenty of stuff that has already been handled and processed properly elsewhere, while I have been away…

That’s why I heart living "A World Without Email". That’s why there’s no way back for me. That’s why I am back in control of my own productivity right where work left it. Right where my networks and communities left it all. Just … priceless!

Welcome back!!

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3 comments

  1. Your situation is to be envied, my friend. I place it above me as something to be pursued in my own situation, where my company is far, far behind many others in its adoption of social software. I can only hope that, as in many cases, the last shall become first and shortly we’ll recognize the value of E2.0 and embrace it fully. Keep up the good work. I need the target to aim for!

    Rick

  2. Dear Luis,

    it’s encouraging to see that you are still going on with the same enthousiasm! I have attended a roadshow in Düsseldorf where you presented quite some time ago and you have inspired me. (Although I keep having a difficult time buying my colleagues in).

    I just stumbled over these:
    http://www.globalideasbank.org/site/bank/idea.php?ideaId=4312
    http://www.emaillozevrijdag.be/

    and two thoughts instantly popped into my mind:
    1) Why do we need an e-mailless DAY? How can that help? People will just bomb you heavier on the days before and after. Plenty of resources are in place to do far better!
    2) Well, at least it is getting attention and people are actually starting to look for solutions. Overall, someone got through the trouble of making an initiative of it.

    Happy to learn about your thoughts on this.

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