Hughes Blog
Thoughts on Software Development, Project Management, Parenting, and Running.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Email - The Bane of Modern Existence
In my line of work, which is to say that I am a technology professional, Email has become a menace. Email allows our professionals to cop out of thinking and instead just add a bunch of names to the CC line in hopes that SOMEONE will have their brain engaged.

The volume of email that I receive each day is ridiculously large (ie hundreds of emails). And less than 10 percent of these messages require any action on my part. Most of the them are the aforementioned, cover-my-ass, copy everyone, brainless communications.

Most of the people that I work with are overseas. I work daily with people in France, Israel and India. These folks are 6-12 hours ahead of me. And the Israelis start their work week on Sunday. There are two consequences that this arrangement has on my daily work. The first thing is that I need to get my butt outta the bed, into work, and on the phone pretty early in the morning. Generally, I have back-to-back-to-back phone calls from 0730 until 1130 in the morning. The second problem is that by the time I am off the phone on Monday morning, I will have received two full days of email from Israel and one full days of email from India and France.

Completely out of control.

At the start of the year I took a new tactic for dealing with this lunacy. During the work day, I filter out all the email that is not sent to me directly (ie on the to: line). In outlook this is pretty easy, I just add "to:chris" in the filter on my inbox. Usually I can work my way through that logjam of mail before the end of the day. Once I am done dealing with the "to:chris" mail, then I do all of the real work that I need to get done before the end of the day. Only after all the real work is done, do I look at the rest of my mail. It usually takes me about 45 minutes to read through the remaining stuff.

Prior to dealing with my mail in this way, I was unable to review all of the email that I receive. Now its only a challenge, but so far one that I have been been able win. I have been able to deal with all the email that is sent my way (no matter how lame) since the beginning of the year!

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Comments:
Yah. The same thing happened to me. I still get hundreds of emails but I told them, if you do not report directly to me, go through your manager unless they are unavailable. And my managers do a good job of getting me the info that I need. Of course, some of them withhold too much which is a whole different conversation! And then I tell them, if it is not something I must ACT on, or MIGHT HAVE TO ACT ON, then I do not have a need to know. CYA, indeed. I told them, No emails can cover your ass like good thinking, good judgment and logic.
 
> No emails can cover your ass like good thinking, good judgment and logic.

Well Said! Exactly!
 
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All views expressed in this post and on this blog are my own. None of my comments should be construed to represent the views of others including and not limited to: BMC Software Inc., Corel Corporation, Dun and Bradstreet and AC Nielsen. Copyright Chris Hughes 2004-2012