I 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?