Sunday, August 3, 2008

Do lots of emails make you feel important?

I’ve been doing some research and contemplation about emails of late. Interestingly, I came across the following article from Slate called – The E-Mail Addict. The article raises a number of issues with email that I think most people, including myself fall, into.

 

To start with, ever do this?

 

“people have a tendency to simply open their inboxes and scroll up and down for several minutes, knocking off two or three messages so they feel better”

 

It is all too easy isn’t it? Not feeling like doing anything, drifting along, what can I do you, you think? Rather than face an unpleasant or difficult task that NEEDS doing it is so much easier simply to scroll through your inbox and delete or reply to one or two emails. You now feel that you’ve done something so you drift off onto something else. Sound familiar?

 

Secondly, what about this?

 

“Lots of e-mail makes you feel important”

 

So, not only is email a good time waster for most workers but the more they get interrupted by email and the more they store in their inboxes the more “important” they feel. Silly isn’t it?

 

There was a time when emails were are real productivity improvement but sadly they have plainly become an excuse to waste time. Why? Simply, people have allowed the technology to control them. They have lost the discipline of saying enough is enough. They have become so insecure that they need emails to confirm their self worth. Ad infinitum.

 

Finally, consider:

 

Today, scholars talk of the "communication enslavement" that occurs when someone sends e-mail to someone else.

 

I had never really thought of it that way but in many cases this is right on the money. You send some an email and EXPECT a reply and EXPECT the reply instantaneously.

 

It is interesting if you take a step back and really have a look at the VALUE of Internet communications (in all their forms). Consider whether they are really improving your productivity or are they simply giving you something to do and something to feel good about. It is a brave person that can walk away from emails in today’s overloaded environment but the studies seem to indicate that unless you do you are doomed to life tethered to a machine. That certainly isn’t suppose to be the way it should be, in my my opinion.

 

I will happily admit that I fall into the same traps as well but I am trying to do something about it. My starting point? The Four Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris (see my review, in my opinion a must read), and yes I am reading it AGAIN!