If you haven’t seen it yet, the results of the annual AOL email usage survey are all over the blogs today. AOL found that 15% of surveyed Americans assert that they are “addicted to email” and 83% check email while on vacation. It sounds like a widening gyre to me. Folks are constantly in email to try and stem the flood, yet outgoing email begets new incoming email and the problem deepens.
Posts from July 2007.
Merlin Mann from 43 Folders gave an excellent talk at Google last week on effective email management. If you’re looking for a nice, concise explanation of how to handle your email and why it’s important, I highly suggest you check it out. The scripted part of the talk lasts 35 minutes or so, followed by some Q&A.
Lifehacker has some fairly spirited discussion surrounding a post suggesting that the best way to deal with email over vacation is to send an auto-response to the sender and automatically delete the original message. From one of their readers:
“I’m going on email-less vacation for a week and already I’m dreading the mountain of messages I’ll face when I return. I’m toying with the idea of setting up a filter that auto-responds to messages while I’m on vacation saying that the sender should email me again, after I get back, if they need a response. Then delete the message automatically.”
As several commenters on the post noted, this is highly irresponsible and probably not the best move professionally. I’ve said it before, if you aren’t managing your email effectively you’re not being fair to your customers, your co-workers or yourself.
For those of you returning from summer breaks, try using ClearContext IMS for some vacation email triage instead.
This morning the San Francisco Chronicle published an article by Chris Colin on the emotional impact email overload has on the user. Ironically, he gathered data for the piece by spamming his contacts with questions about their relationship with email. The result is some interesting stuff that focuses less on technology and more on negative feelings that arise from trying to manage too much email:
“Complaining about e-mail is like complaining about traffic or tourists: a facile old whine. But whines have good and bad years, and 2007 has been a doozy.”
In this Salon article Scott Rosenberg refutes the idea that a crowded Inbox means you don’t have your life in order. Lifehacker is running a poll to see if their readers agree.