Blog Post

Friday’s question: how many e-mails did you “touch” in 2006?

YgmlogoI just checked my personal Outlook folders as well as my archives and realized something that blows my mind. Outside of work e-mail, I personally "touched" over 20,000 e-mail items in 2006 and we still have a week to go. By "touch" I mean e-mail artifacts that I either read, responded to or simply deleted upon browsing the headline or body. Twenty-thousand. The number is staggering in my mind because the next step is to think about how much time was invested in those 20,000 touch-points. I have no idea, but I can tell you this: my goal in 2007 is to reduce that time investment.

If you can believe this, the reason I looked into this is Twitter; not that Twitter is helping my e-mail situation, but I saw that Robert Scoble posted this Twitter update about 9 hours ago: "Day at home being sick and doing email. Failing at email. Got distracted by blog. Sigh". It’s not the first time I’ve read that Robert is challenged by e-mail volumes; in fact, it’s a common theme I’ve seen from various folks.

Yes, there’s always the "good" e-mails that we needed to send or read in order to get something done. I have no issue there. I also get questions from jkOTR readers which I give my best effort to respond to (but occasionally can’t due to workloads….please don’t take it personally). I don’t mind those either; just click the cartoon head in our sidebar to shoot me a note.

That probably accounts for half of those e-mails. Still….20,000? We’ve got to change the face of e-mail. It’s definitely become a source of instant messaging and I definitely like it better than the phone. I don’t answer the phone in our house; I worked at a call center where I took over 30,000 support calls and once I left there, I stopped answer the phone. Then again, with the phone, you tend to have a complete conversation all at once. With e-mail, it’s a back and forth volley to get to the end of the conversation since it’s truly only one-way at a given point in time.

How about you? Don’t spend too much more of your valuable time doing the math like I did, but if you can quickly and easily figure out how many e-mails you "touched" in 2006, drop a comment. Better yet: if you’ve got a unique way of managing the e-mail onslaught, share that too. Just hurry….2007 is coming. I think we all need to band together and pick a "Worldwide E-mail Holiday" in 2007, unplug and meet up for lunch. Wouldn’t that be one heck of a party?

11 Responses to “Friday’s question: how many e-mails did you “touch” in 2006?”

  1. Our email address (which is accessed via my computer) was recently mail-bombed. I received 36917 emails in less than a week, each of them from a different email address. I thought for a moment there I’d got popular!

  2. Kevin –

    20,000 seems low for me…

    Combine that with the massive volume of blog posts that I’ve read this year (hundereds per day), and the amount of time ‘connected’ is staggering. Add that to the fact that I did nearly 250k in air travel (much of the blog post reading was during this time through FeedDemon-offline), and you net the fact that I have no life…

    Of course this doesn’t include all the great books, magazine articles, etc. that flowed through my read/review folder – or the inane PPTs, PDFS, etc. that were required reading.

    Back to the email front: I’ve seen a glimmer of hope with the increased use of email replacement tools like wikis and crm applications. I sit on the board of several charitable organizations, and am pushing to graduate discussion type emails to a wiki-BB structure. Stuff like SugarCRM can also do wonders for being more collaborative and productive, while reducing the email flow.

    The inevitable drawback, however, is that email is EASY, and comes across as being PERSONAL. The personal part kills any other option for most folks.