Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Productivity without email

When you read “When the inbox is on the outer” you again get the sense that email is doing our productivity far more harm than good. Quotes from the article like:

 

“One study from Hewlett-Packard, for instance, found that workers constantly distracted by email and phone calls suffer a temporary 10-point fall in their IQ - more than twice that found in studies of the impact of smoking a joint.”

 

“A recent study from AOL suggested that many people are increasingly addicted to email, with researchers reporting that 10-50 per cent of work time is spent using email, which is having a huge impact on productivity.”

 

“Another study, cited in Gail Fann Thomas' 2006 article "Re-conceptualising email Overload" in the Journal of Business and Technical Communication, found that the average worker had 2483 inbox messages and 858 filed ones.”

 

demonstrate the worrying trend that we have become consumed by our emails. I ask however, why this is so? As “When the inbox is on the outer” illustrates tools such as wikis are a very effective method of providing team collaboration. This means rather than having all you ideas bouncing around in email they are stored on a shared space that people contribute to.

 

Wiki’s are one of the major new features in Windows SharePoint v3 and although not the greatest example of a wiki on the market it does make a great starting place to start accumulating business information. With a SharePoint wiki you can create and edit documents online without anything but a browser. You can track changes, check in/out items as well as link to other items quickly and easily.

 

A major use of SharePoint wiki’s is to store technical knowledge. Things like how to’s, procedures, policies and more are great examples of where a wiki can reduce email. Rather than having ideas bounce between different parties they can all be stored and updated in one central location for all to see. The great thing about SharePoint is that all the information entered into the wiki is automatically indexed making it simple to search for the information required.

 

Another fantastic tool for sharing information is Microsoft OneNote. It’s simple yet powerful features allow you to save just about any sort of digital information. You can easily create additional pages if required, share with people remotely, search the contents and more. If you are collaborating with a number of people using OneNote you can quickly and easily see the changes they have made in last day, week, month and so on. If you haven’t had a good look at OneNote I recommend you take some time and have a look at what is possible.

 

Inside the information age in which we live it is amazing to find people not implement more productive methods inside their business. Do they want to work longer? Do they want less free time? It really doesn’t make sense to me when tools like SharePoint and OneNote are available so cheaply (if not free the case of Windows SharePoint). If you could save just 1 hour a day being more productive, that’s 240 hours a year which is about 30 working days a year (assuming 8 hours a work day). That’s almost an extra month a year! What sort of advantage could you obtain by doing things in 11 months where everyone else takes 12?

 

Remember time is our most precious commodity, because we can never create more. The best we can do is use what we have effectively and efficiently. The technology is available. The price is right. Just because we do something the same way every day doesn’t mean it can’t be done better, we just need to take the time to find out whether it can. You’d always want to invest your money in the highest rate of return you could right? Why don’t you do the same with your time?