Life's Too Short for So Much E-Mail
Looking to be less stressed and more productive? If you listen to certain work-product and workplace satisfaction experts, they'll tell you to dump the E-Mail habit in your life. Or, at least, learn coping mechanisms to control the e-mail problem that you probably have. No doubt you are affected by the e-onslaught. Some analysts claim that 107 trillion electronic messages (e-mails) were generated in the material world during 2010. That's 107 trillion. I personally feel responsible (regarding the sending and/or receiving end) of about 250 billion or so of those e-messages -- it could be many more, but I eat and sleep regularly and take a real vacation now and then.
On average, corporate employees send and receive 105 emails per work day.
If you could keep only one of the following: E-Mail, Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, Instant Messaging (a.k.a. PM), Texting, or the Old-School Office Telephone -- which would it be?
If each of these social media tools were to disappear suddenly which, if any (of them all), would you miss?
For me, it would be easy to discern. Goodbye to you, Marconi and Alexander Graham Bell. Howdy and hello to Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook feels now like my interpersonal communication drug of choice. The phone still feels like too much (work and) effort, after all these decades of occasional dating.
Does the fact that I have never been attracted to the boxed-up "discipline" and restrictions of Twitter-ing (the keep it terse messaging done via 140 lonely characters max. and a cloud of dust), like some random pop culture haiku, make me some kind of Smartphone-toting pariah? Too bad. My die be already cast, mate.
Any way you look at the overall subject of communicating to/with others via social media, the concept of overload on one's already taxed to the max system is bound to rear up. Overload is the key theme in all of this banter wbout life being too short for . . . . (you fill in the blank). This constant facor got me interested in the blog post below. It appeared on the internet (I found it on Facebook as a Share item) just a few days ago.
A Blog Comment by Nick Bilson
Overload . . . . people who do not look at e-mail regularly at work
appear to be less stressed and more productive than their colleagues
Just thinking about my e-mail in-box makes me sad.
This month alone, I received more than 6000 emails. That doesn't include spam, notifications or daily deals, either. With all those messages, I have no desire to respond to even a fraction of them. I can just picture my tombstone: Here lies Nick Bilton, who responded to thousands of emails a month. May he rest in peace.
It's not that I'm so popular.
Last year, Royal Pingdom, which monitors internet usage, said that in 2010, 107 trillion emails were sent. A report this year from the Radicati Group, a market research firm, found that in 2011, there were 3.1 billion active email accounts in the world. The report noted that, on average, corporate employees sent and received 105 emails a day.
Sure, some of those emails are important. But 105 a day?
All of this has led me to believe that something is terribly wrong with email. What's more, I don't believe it can be fixed.
I've tried everything. Priority mail, filters, more filters, filters within filters, away messages, third-party email tools. None of these supposed solutions work.
Last year, I decided to try to reach In-box Zero, the Zen-like state of a consistently empty in-box. I spent countless hours one evening replying to neglected messages. I woke up the next morning to find that most of my replies had received replies, and so, once again, my in-box was brimming. It all felt like one big practical joke.
Meanwhile, all of this e-mail could be increasing our stress.
A research report issued this year by the University of California, Irvine, found that people who did not look at e-mail regularly at work were less stressed and more productive than others.
Gloria Mark, an informatics professor who studies the effects of email and multitasking in the workplace and is a co-author of the study, said, "One person in our email study told us after: I let the sound of the bell and pop-ups rule my life."
A Main Problem with E-Mail: No Off Switch.
Mark says one of the main problems with email is that there isn't an off switch.
"Email is an asynchronous technology, so you don't need to be on it to receive a message," she said. "Synchronous technologies, like instant messenger, depend on people being present."Although some people allow their instant messenger services to save offline messages, most cannot receive messages if they are not logged on. With email, it is different. If you go away, emails pile up waiting for your return.
Avoiding new messages is as impossible as trying to play a game of hide-and-seek in an empty studio apartment. There is nowhere to hide.
Is e-mail simply a social media tool for old people?
I recently sent an email to a teenage cousin who responded with a text message. I responded again through email, and this time she answered with Facebook Messenger. She was obviously seeing the emails but kept choosing a more concise way to reply. Our conversation moved to Twitter's direct messages, where it was ended quickly by the 140-character limit.
Later, we talked about the exchanges, and she explained that she saw email as something for "old people"." It's too slow for her, and the messages too long. Sometimes, she said, as with a Facebook status update, you don't even need to respond at all.
Since technology hasn't solved the problem it has created with email, it looks as if some younger people might come up with their own answer — not to use email at all.
So I'm taking a cue from them.
I'll look at my email as it comes in. Maybe I'll respond with a text, Google Chat, Twitter or Facebook message. But chances are, as with many messages sent via Facebook or Twitter, I won't need to respond at all.