Email overload is not caused only by people sending too many emails… it is also exacerbated by the fact that they don’t know how to write a sensible, concise, actionable message that can be processed rapidly. This post examines the implications – notably the need for a structured process of training and certification to make sure nobody goes near the “Reply All” button before knowing what they are doing.
How come you don’t need to take training before even being allowed near the Reply All button? Other skills that cvan do harm – driving, medical practice, practicing law – involve study before you can even apply for a permit: there is driver’s education, medical school, law school… but email doesn’t have so much as a short course.
This is a big problem. There is every reason for organizations to mandate “Email Ed” classes for all employees, like it does for safety training and other critical skills.
Why has a solution to the “email problem” still not been found – despite it still being the main way that we communicate in business?
Email overload comes up time after time in staff surveys as one of the main causes of stress and anxiety in the workplace.
There are 0.825 billion business email accounts currently active which send and receive 89 billion emails every day.
So – what can be done to make email more manageable?
A while back I wrote about our “First Generation” solutions to Infomania: those based on training people to adopt voluntary behavior change. And I told you that our experience is that their effect always lasts a year or two and then diminishes as people come and go and memories fade; then you re-launch the training to gain another year, and so on… Admittedly these programs are inexpensive to run, so this is acceptable; still, last year I finally got tired of this repetition and decided to try and devise something completely different – solutions that would be less voluntary and more aggressive in stopping the barrage of email and interruptions.
These are now being developed for deployment later this year.
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? The global economy may run on countless streams, waves, and pools of information, but unrestrained, that tidal wave of data is drowning us. It washes away our productivity and creativity, swamps our social lives, and can even shipwreck our relationships.