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Giving up on Work e-mail – Status Report on Week 44 to 45 (The Yo-Yo Effect Continues)

Gran Canaria - Presa de AyagauresAs we are about to wrap up another interesting and exciting year, and while we await for 2009 (Just around the corner!), here I go back again into creating another blog post over here trying to catch up with the weekly progress reports on how I have been doing lately giving up e-mail at work. I am sure that a few of you folks would be interested in finding out some more on how things are going or whether there may have been some drastic changes. Thus here I am again at it, sharing with you a few thoughts on what has happened for weeks 44 and 45. At the same time I will be sharing with you another interesting link I have bumped into a little while ago and which is very much related to "Thinking Outside the Inbox" theme. But one thing at a time …

In one of my recent blog posts on the subject, I mentioned how over the last few weeks I seem to be have been going through what I have been calling the yo-yo effect (i.e. an up and down incoming number of e-mails per week) and it looks like these two weeks are a continuation of that effect, because, once again, the numbers have been going up and down. Here are the progress weekly reports, so that you folks can have a look:

Fighting e-mail - Progress Report - Week 44

Fighting e-mail - Progress Report - Week 45

As you would be able to see, during week 44 I eventually got 23 e-mails, whereas for week 45 I ended up with 35. Rather intriguing to see how the numbers fluctuate, but equally interesting to see how all of that yo-yo effect changed dramatically for week 46. But that would be the subject for another upcoming blog post. For now, just to reflect how the numbers keep going up and down, but steady under the 35 e-mails range per week, which, I guess, it is not too bad! But till you get to read through the progress report from week 46 and you will see what I mean…

Finally, like I have mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, I would also like to take a couple of minutes to point you to a very relevant article, even though it was published a couple of months back!, to what I have been doing all along in this space. It was published by Amit Agarwal under the title "How to Manage Email Overload with some help of your RSS Reader" and in it it comes to mention how one of the most compelling methods for taming your e-mail inbox is to eventually move out information flows into RSS / Atom feed readers.

If you have been listening to a couple of videos I have shared on this subject of giving up on e-mail at work, you would know how, to me, an RSS / Atom feed reader has become an essential tool in helping me digest the information / knowledge I get exposed to from my various different social networks. Without my feed readers (Yes, I use a couple of them!) I am 100% sure I would not have been able to successfully move away from corporate e-mail, to the extent that without them I doubt I would be getting much work done!

Thus to such extent Amit has put together a worth while reading article where you would be able to get exposed to four different tips on how RSS feeds would be able to help you manage e-mail overload much better, to the point where you can eventually reduce a substantial amount of the messages you get exposed to on a daily basis. I am not going to expand much further on the subject, but, instead, I would like to quote over here those four tips and would then encourage you all to have a look into Amit’s entry for the rest:

- Idea 1: "Ask people to only send tips via delicious for: tag" (Or any other social bookmarking site for that matter!)
- Idea 2: "Only use contact forms that provide RSS feeds
- Idea 3: Master Dapper and Yahoo! Pipes
- Idea 4: Read all e-mail newsletters and mailing lists as RSS feeds" (This is perhaps my favourite one! You can’t imagine the huge amount of e-mail traffic I have been able to divert ever since I started with this experiment!)

See? It is not that difficult to take control over and tame the e-mail beast, right? Well, stay tuned, because very soon I will be putting together a new blog post where I will share some of the changes of what you will be seeing over here for the year we are about to begin within the next few hours… For the time being, get ready for the upcoming blog post, because it surely is going to shake the ground a bit! ;-)

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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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Tenerife

Goodness! Where does time go?!?! It looks like it was only yesterday when I created the last blog post over here and when checking things out it turns out that it is eventually nearly two weeks since the last one! Whoahhh! Talking about being busy, eh? Well, not really. Errr, I mean, I have been rather busy, indeed, as we are coming closer to finish off another amazing year, but I have also been busy in doing something else that happens usually at this time of the year for me and which I can’t skip just like that: my holidays!

Yay! Indeed, it looks like the yo-yo effect that you folks are seeing with my recent blog posts over here has got to do with the fact that holidays have taken their toll and have managed to keep me disconnected and away from everything online for a little while. Then when coming back to work things are rather hectic, as usual, trying to catch up and, before I know it, it is nearly two weeks that I have been away from this blog. Whoah! (Again!)

Anyway, I am now back again into the full swing of everything online and, as such, regular blogging activities will resume in this blog from here onwards. Just my usual self. In fact, next article is going to have an interesting observation I have been pondering about on what, to me, seems to be *the* real barrier towards full adoption of social software within the enterprise. And, in this cases, just before you jump into the wrong conclusions out there, it hasn’t got anything to with work, enterprise nor business. (Interesting, eh? Well, coming up shortly!).

To get things going though, and to resume my regular blogging activities, I thought I would share with you folks a few words of where I have been over the last few days (Although I have been back at work for a couple of days already!). As you may have noticed, for a good number of months, I have developed that habit of sharing a picture every time that I put together a blog post over here. Most folks have realised that those pictures are actually rather special to me.

Yes, they are all pictures I have taken myself from the island I have been enjoying tremendously for the last five and a half years: Gran Canaria. Each of them has got its own story; some of them are even related to the article I publish next to them; some of them just bring back so many good memories from when they were taken; most of them are dear to my heart making me realise how lucky I am of living where I live.

Either way, beginning of December, I decided to finally put an end to something that I almost felt embarrassed about: the fact I have been in Gran Canaria for nearly six years and I didn’t had the decency :-O to go and check out some of the other equally stunning Canary Islands. Yes, I know! Shameful! So I thought it was a good time to put an end to that and a couple of weekends ago I decided to spend a long one in the other one island that has been attracting me for a while now, right from the start almost: Tenerife.

That’s right! I decided to jump into the ferry and spend a whole weekend of disconnectedness and just pure unwinding! And wildly successful, in my opinion! Why? Well, you may want to pop over into my Flickr account to get a taste of it, but mainly because of breath-taking, mind-blowing and incredibly humbling experiences as this one:

Tenerife - Mount Teide

Or this other one:

Tenerife - Mount Teide

Or how about this other one?:

Tenerife - Mount Teide

Not bad, eh? Well, I could tell you a whole bunch more of the stuff I went through, constantly being wowed with full unbelievable emotions and experiences, but I think I’ll just leave you with those pictures for now letting you know I will be adding a whole bunch more over the next few hours into a new set I created a couple of days back … As stunning and incredibly amazing as this one:

Tenerife - The Rose

Like I said, regular blogging activities will resume from here onwards, as usual, but that weekend I spent in Tenerife surely made me wish I would have taken on photography when I was a lot younger, because these pictures don’t really make justice to some of the stunning sceneries and magnificent landscapes I got to witness over those four days of intense brilliance!

Thank you, Tenerife! I will be back again! One day. I know. For sure!

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