….but we are all fabulous.
I was looking for an email at work earlier today and I happened to notice that in my ‘Sent’ folder there are 24,996 emails. Yes, that’s right, 25 THOUSAND emails.
We use Google mail so there is virtually unlimited storage and we have had this system for around 5 years.
So that’s 5000 emails a year which, if we assume that each year we work 5 days a week for 46 weeks of the year equates to 22 emails per day.
Of course this is a conservative estimate – I occasionally delete a few emails here and there and I send emails from my phone which bizarrely don’t get stored in the same folder. It also doesn’t account for emails sent from my personal email account.
But goodness me, that is a ridiculous amount of time sitting at a desk typing and I could easily have sent more but sometimes I like to go crazy and pick up the phone or walk down the corridor to speak to colleagues. Sometimes I send actual mail…
Van Gogh, The Postman Roulin, 1889
Furthermore, each time we are interrupted it takes time for us to be able to reengage with what we were previously doing and we end up in react mode which is stressful and tiring.
The ‘Trash’ folder on my computer self empties every 30 days. It currently has 906 emails in it – that’s nearly one thousand emails in the last month that I didn’t need to store (I file those that are useful in folders). Quite a lot of those are thoughtless ‘Reply All’ emails which are easy to send and delete but which have the same disruptive effect as any other email.
So what on earth are we doing? There has to be a better way.
I have heard talk of companies doing away with email altogether. A quick Google came up with this article: http://www.fastcompany.com/3035927/agendas/inside-the-company-that-got-rid-of-email about a company that got rid of internal email and instead used custom made software which meant colleagues have to login to see work projects and their progress. In this way, rather than the steady stream of emails coming in and distracting individuals, they could choose a convenient time to engage with updates.
Another example is here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/tykiisel/2011/11/30/ceo-bans-email/#f5322d93c43b
For those who can’t or won’t abandon email, there are technological solutions which hold back your email until certain times of the day. Some people do this in a lo-tech way – just restricting themselves to checking once or twice a day at certain times.
But whatever we do to manage our email we need to do something – sending 5000 emails a year is not an effective way of working or living.