Monday, June 22, 2009

The Great Email Challenge

During discussions with friends and colleagues about time management, many talk about email as the main culprit to running one’s day efficiently. And it’s not the volume of emails that is the main challenge. Actually, the issue is more around the incessant interruption caused by our need to be real-time responsive. This results in frequent switching of gears across many items at once. Our brain’s ramp time between tasks adds up the more we redirect our trains of thought.

Since it is unrealistic for us to expect ourselves to work on one task at a time in a serial fashion, we seek to reduce the number and frequency of these interruptions in order to multi-task effectively.

As a result, what would happen if we weren’t always “on” for minute-by-minute response times? Do the companies that implement no-email-Fridays and mailbox size limitations have a productivity advantage over those that don’t?

Therein lies the great email challenge. Has anyone out there—only those whose jobs do not require ongoing monitoring, such as customer service, for example-- tried checking email just once a day, or at designated times? What was the result? Were you able to manage expectations accordingly? Were you more efficient during the day?

1 comment:

IljaCoolen said...


During workdays I have my email client open all the time, so I will be notified if new mail arrives. My nature is however, not to respond immediately, but later, when my tasks/schedule allows me. Other mail (personal and my contractor-related-email) arrives at my mobile device, but this too, is not checked immediately.

In general, I can go all day without checking my mail. If no mail arrives, I don't feel bad. I've read some articles on email/textmessage anxiety and I consider myself not infected by this anxiety.