Thursday, March 09, 2006


Some crude email statistics from Monday – Thursday this week (which has been pretty typical)...

No. of emails received per day
Monday 64
Tuesday 69
Wednesday 57
Thursday 56
Total: 246
Average per day: 61.5

Now, some points about the above, qualified by stating that 1) BY NO MEANS am I the most email-harassed person on earth, and 2) I acknowledge that some of these I generated myself by sending an email, either as a reply or as a first move.

I have no idea how long I spend, on average, on each email. Some I open, scan, and delete. Some I read more carefully then delete or file. Some I read then follow a link to a website. Some I respond to with a brief reply. Some require follow-up work. Some are from friends, sending me news of escapades and hijinks in yonder lands (these I receive with a tender smile and respond to munificently). Some are from workmates/superiors asking me to do things that are part of my job. (The time I subsequently spend on the job should not, of course, count towards average time per email). Even taking into account that many emails are quickly ditched, I’d guess my average per-email time to be at the very least a couple of minutes p(quite possibly more) – around 2 hours per day or 25% of my official work time.

I would (very conservatively) guess that if I never saw half of the emails I receive (probably more like three-quarters), it would make not a jot of difference to my, or anybody else’s, life or work. Not even a half-jot. In this light, I try to only send emails that are genuinely worthwhile. I’m sure I’ve been guilty of sending irrelevant crap, but I’m better than many.

This is partly why I need to work, unconnected, from home if I need to actually write something other than emails (and writing stuff wot ain’t emails is supposed to be the main part of my job).

“But you could just turn off Outlook,” you say. After I tell you to fuck off, I will remind you that clicking on an icon isn’t exactly a difficult hurdle. I don’t have anything popping up or beeping when I receive emails, so it effectively makes no difference whether it’s on or off. And given the ENORMOUS capacity of email as a procrastination device, your suggestion to “just turn Outlook off” is like telling a nicotine addict to “just put the cigarettes in your pocket.”

I am the first to admit that I need to be more efficient with emails but, even so, they can be so completely bloody counterproductive. And this is a technology that’s supposed to improve productivity.


PS - I know the title was a bit of a stretch.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

And then you did not even mention usage of the windows office communicator...

11:42 am  

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