Here are a few recent email management articles to chew on:
Lifehack.org: Unanswered Email Undermines Your Productivity
“What we don’t see clearly is that we do damage to our reputations and to our time management systems when we don’t manage individual habits. A bad habit that becomes a ritual can drag down our productivity, without our knowing it.”
bijansabet.com: Little things to make email better
“1 [of 4 tips] – I’m paying close attention to the number of emails I send out. … The more emails you send, the more you get back.”
Career Realism: 9 Tips for Mastering Email Overload
“Taming email means training the senders to put the burden of quality back on themselves. What’s the best way to train everyone around you to better email habits? You guessed it: You go first. Set the example, be the role model. Demonstrate a policy for a month, and if people like it, ask them to start doing the same.”
Nathan Zeldes has published an article in IEEE Spectrum on Infoglut:
“Information, the very thing that makes it possible to be an engineer, a doctor, a lawyer, or any other kind of modern information worker, is threatening our ability to do our work. How’s that for irony?”
Definitely worth a read if you’re interested in how email and information overload are killing our productivity. And there’s a mention of ClearContext to boot.
Photo: Fredrik Brodén
As part of the Information Overload Awareness Day Inaugural Event, ClearContext was presented with a Basex Excellence Award; recognizing “companies with industry-leading products or services that focus on the problem of Information Overload.” From the press release:
“’These companies and offerings exemplify the types of products breaking new ground in the fight against Information Overload,’ said Jonathan B. Spira, Basex' CEO and Chief Analyst, who will present the awards.”
We received the award for providing innovative tools that control the Inbox, aggregate project information and reduce information overload. Other recipients include Microsoft, Nordic River, Xerox and Xobni.
It is extremely rewarding to see our hard work recognized!
Deva is quoted in an article on the USA Today technology blog about next week’s IORG conference:
“The biggest impact, by far, is on business e-mail users," says Deva Hazarika, vice president of IORG and CEO of ClearContext, a maker of organizing software for Microsoft Outlook.
"Quite simply, the volume of e-mail people are getting is increasing and is more time consuming," Hazarika says. "On average, over the last few years it has doubled, to 100 to 200, a day. And the content of each mail has evolved from a simple note to a project-oriented task that requires a detailed response."
Last month NPR spent an entire week talking about email overload:
“E-mail. It was supposed to make communication easier, maybe even make life more manageable. The benefits are obvious — speed, global reach, mobility. But many people feel burdened rather than liberated. NPR looks at the e-mail assault and how to fight back.”
Segments include family spam, overload, no-email fridays and email security (among others). Definitely worth checking out.
The E-Mail Age : NPR
Nathan Zeldes has posted the results from two of Intel’s productivity pilot programs. It looks like “Quiet Time” was more well received than “No Email Day”. Read for more detail.
The New York Times just published an article announcing the launch of the Information Overload Research Group. This is a group of researchers from universities and corporate research group, CIOs and other people from companies struggling with the problem, and people from companies working on this problem – including our CEO, Deva Hazarika, who writes a bit about the launch on his blog. They are holding their first annual conference in New York in a few weeks.
Yes, we’re in a release cycle. Long time readers know that that means posting will be light for a bit. Here’s something for your reading pleasure in the meantime…
Our friends at Seriosity have published a white paper on their attention economy. For those unfamiliar with Seriosity, they have a novel approach for relieving the email overload problem. Taking cues from the gaming industry, their product introduces a synthetic currency to email that the sender can use to give an indication of message importance. Here’s the abstract:
“The productivity of information workers is jeopardized by too much e–mail. A proposed solution to e–mail overload is the creation of an economy that uses a scarce synthetic currency that senders can use to signal the importance of information and receivers can use to prioritize messages. A test of the virtual economy with corporate information workers showed that people in a large company used different amounts of the currency when sending e–mail messages, and that the amount of currency attached to messages produced statistically significant differences in how quickly receivers opened the messages. An analysis of the network of virtual currency trades between workers showed the different roles that participants played in the communication network, and showed that relationships defined by currency exchanges uncovered social networks that are not apparent in analyses that only examine the frequency, as opposed to the value of interactions.”
See A marketplace for attention: Responses to a synthetic currency used to signal information importance in e-mail for more detail.
Randall Stross looks to Thomas Edison and H.L. Mencken for analog answers to managing electronic mail in today’s New York Times piece Struggling to Evade the E-Mail Tsunami. In particular, journalist Mencken responded to every piece of mail he received, but didn’t let it overwhelm him:
"YET at the same time that Mencken teaches us the importance of avoiding overnight e-mail indebtedness, he also reminds us of the need to shield ourselves from incessant distractions during the day when individual messages arrive. The postal service used to pick up and deliver mail twice a day, which was frequent enough to permit Mencken to arrange to meet a friend on the same day that he extended the invitation. Yet it was not so frequent as to interrupt his work."
This is almost exactly what we advise in our IMS Daily Workflow. Set aside times to process your email and focus on your work the rest of the day.
There’s also brief mention of technological solutions to the problem; including ClearContext.
An MSNBC article by Eve Tahmincioglu has some interesting stats on information overload and it’s impact in the workplace:
"Turns out, seven out of 10 office workers in the United States feel overwhelmed by information in the workplace, and more than two in five say they are headed for a data “breaking point,” according to a recently released Workplace Productivity Survey, commissioned by LexisNexis — a provider of business information solutions."
I like this article because it hits on one of my mantras – good email management should be part of everyone’s core skill set:
"Mike Walsh, CEO of LexisNexis U.S. Legal Markets, says there are a host of reasons we’re all on the information brink: "exponential growth of the size of the information ‘haystack,’ the ubiquity and immediacy of digital communications, and the fact that professionals are not being provided with sufficient tools and training to help them keep pace with the growing information burden.""
I probably also like it because there’s a brief mention of ClearContext. Read the article for more overload stats and some tips (on page 2) for alleviating the strain.