letters flying out of computer. Too many emails

too-many-emailsRemember that classic song ‘ Video killed the radio star’ by the Buggles. To me this song represented the fact that music videos had brought in a new medium which enhanced the listeners experience but to some degree we lost the art of producing great music.

I sometimes feel the same way about email. 20 years ago most organisations didn’t have email. Now most of us spend a large portion of our day responding to or managing our emails. I have had jobs in the past where I received in excesss of 100 emails a day which represented one every 5 mins. If it takes me 2 mins to read an email and 5 minutes to repond that equates to a 11 hour day just responding to emails. Hence why at least half of these went to the deleted folder and why I used the rule that people needed 3 emails to get my attention.

Emails have their purpose and have have improved productivity (or so it seems) however in my view are out of control and need to be managed as a way of doing business:

  • High avoidant leaders hide behind emails rather than building the social skills they need to lead and engage;
  • You don’t know the other persons priorities. When you dump an action at someone via email you have not considered what else they are working on or what their priorities;
  • Email takes away social communication, and understanding and drives a task focused and simultaneously a passive environment;
  • Email doesn’t consider that some peoples learning styles are less adept to reading, and more adept social engagement. It rewards those who are strong information processors, rather than those who are talented facilitators, communicators, or conceptualisers.

The cost of this is the social skills, strategic thinking, focus and prioritisation that comes from talking things through. We focus on getting through the volume rather than being clear on purpose and priority. We become internally focused rather than client focused. We become computer junkies rather than social beings. We spend nights clearing emails rather than playing with our kids.

Also, in case you wondering. I do understand the irony that I just sent you another email to read our blog. Hopefully this email enhances your being rather than chaining you further to your emails.