More productive with[out] e-mail?

Monday, August 30th, 2004
Could you live without your email for a day? Do you think it would make you more or less productive?

Twenty-one years ago, I helped develop one of the first 8-bit LAN e-mail systems. (This one ran on the TurboDOS network.) At the time, I offered this new e-mail solution to my corporate clients; however, I could barely give it away.

The typical answer at the time was:
"Why do we need email when we can walk over to someone's desk, pick up the phone, send a fax, or send a Telex?"
Eight years later, I worked with a client that was using MCIMail -- which was only a step up from using Telex -- to send messages from one desk to another in the same building -- a process that took several minutes. It was actually faster to walk across the hall then it was to use a dial-up modem to upload each message at a cost of up to a dollar a piece.

Now, e-mail has all but replaced Telex machines and faxes are only used for paper documents that cannot be sent in electronic form.

Jump forward to the age of the Blackberry, where people not only expect to be able to send a message to anyone, anywhere, at any time, but some companies expect their employees to actually respond within 2 minutes! A big change from the MCIMail days.

For better or for worse, email has certainly changed the way that people communicate over the past 20 years.

This month's Fast Company Magazine has an article about how Veritas has declared each Friday to be a no-email day.

How has e-mail changed the way that you work? How would the elimination of e-mail, if only for a day, change things for you?

Discussion/Comments (3):

Email has an off button

Email is just a tool. Much like cell phones, it has one killer feature. It can be turned off.

It's too easy to get interupted - if I have a need to concentrate, my email gets closed (or at least moved to a different virtual desktop) - the same way that my phone gets turned off, and instant messaging clients get closed or silenced.

When doing this, I have an alarm set to remind me - once an hour, I check my email and my phone messages, to make sure that nothing needs my urgent attention.

For the most part, I can take care of anything I need to within 5 minutes - often within 2, this leaves a good 50 minutes an hour where I can concentrate.

Posted at 8/30/2004 2:27:21 PM by Malach

Email use

Hi Eric - I've slowly changed how I use email - I used to have it check every 5 minutes and then I used to read them immediately - but over time it became a big distraction.

So now I check less frequently (and whilst its not perfect) I make a mental note of whats in there and deal with them all together every couple of days (unless something is real urgent).

ps - you need to get your template upgraded (and so have inline comment form) - or have your sizing of this popup comment box changed!

Posted at 8/31/2004 4:23:55 AM by Steve Castledine

re: Email use

Agreed. Thanks.

Posted at 9/2/2004 5:23:43 PM by Eric Mack

Discussion for this entry is now closed.