I've been a bit erratic on the posting lately... I guess it's email overload - I took 3 weeks out of my usual schedule, and in the meantime a rather substantial backlog accumulated. I'm overwhelmed and frustrated. It just reminds me of my disdain for the way we use email.

I gave a lecture to an executive MBA class two weeks ago, and asked them how they deal with email. The answers were borderline ridiculous (although enlightening)! These people have so much on their plates that they can't possibly deal with all the email that comes at them, so they need to make intuitive decisions about what to respond to... Which means that alot of opportunities are being missed. And they know it. One person in the class had four assistants to help her deal with her email - basically all she got to see of it was a small stack of printed notes every afternoon, which she would take home, makes notes on and then hand in to one of her secretaries to transcribe and send along. WTF!?

This problem isn't going away either. I can only imagine the email overload increasing over time as the web becomes more and more integrated into people's work and personal lives.

Solutions? Here are some common ones:

  • More use of Instant Messaging,

  • No email should be more than 5 sentences long,

  • Use of Wiki's for planning among groups

  • Every email should be actionable and concrete.

  • Business and personal mail should be kept completely separate

  • Use social-networking sites to catch-up with old friends or associates

  • No more mass-mailing. Ever. Group info should be disseminated via RSS through a blog... if it's important for people, they will opt-in for as long as it remains so.

  • If it's urgent, call.

I think an additional filtering option would be useful: what if your email inbox could be viewed as a tag-cloud rather than a list?
The sender would be obligated to tag/categorise their messages. Could this work?

UPDATE: Checkout Taglocity (thanks Maz)

AuthorDave Duarte