The mere word makes many people convulse or even throw up in their mouths a little.
I can’t blame them. Email — that most revolutionary of inventions — has turned into the scourge of the modern world.
Think how wild a statement that really is for a minute…
Email: From Novelty to Ubiquitous In a Few Short Years
Not even 20 years ago, email was a novelty. Sure, we might email friends who were also on AOL or CompuServe or whatever, but if we really needed to get in touch with someone quickly, we called.
Our super-fast-communications needs were met by pagers and “mobile” phones that were barely mobile, resembling nothing so much as a cinder block and weighing about the same.
But even if we had pagers and mobiles, the folks we were trying to reach certainly didn’t — at least not in large numbers.
Now, merely 20 years later, look how much has changed.
Why Email Is Everywhere (And Why That’s Not Likely to Change)
It’s certainly true in my life: if my clients or colleagues need to reach me quickly, they’re almost sure to have more luck with email than with a phone call.
For one thing, I resent unexpected phone call intrusions from just about everybody except my two closest friends or my brother. For that reason, I often turn the ringer off so I can concentrate, and then return calls at one time.
But email is also more manageable in terms of the substance of the conversation. We can take our time, figure out exactly what to say, and get it just right. (Not that we always do, of course, and horror stories abound … there’s the “reply all” horror, the rant-too-hastily-sent horror …)
And so now it’s ubiquitous. Even folks struggling with poverty, who can’t afford a cell phone, much less a home, have email addresses and can access them at libraries, etc. Email is now so inextricably woven into the fabric of our lives that it ain’t changing any time soon.
So with all that ubiquity, I guess it was sort of inevitable that email would evolve into the new productivity killer. After all, anything that’s that “everywhere” has grown to take on massive proportions, and will almost certainly suck your time budget dry if you let it.
That’s what the next month is all about.
We Need a New Way to “Do” Email
I have been working on devising some new content for the last three weeks that I think it’s high time I just go ahead and roll out to readers.
That content is a several-posts-long (I don’t yet know exactly how many, but I’m already up to 11 and the end is not in sight) series on Email Management for the Discriminating or Super-Lazy Digital Entrepreneur. When it’s all wrapped up, I’m planning to turn it into an ebook as well.
We’ll cover specific strategies and systems you can adopt, no matter what email client you use. We’ll also look at new ways to approach email in the larger or philosophical sense, approaches that will help you save tons of time and effort managing your own inbox.
I definitely want and am asking for feedback — lots and lots of feedback. Tell me which tools I’m sharing are working for you. Tell me which are a waste of time. Tell me how you do it. I’ll use that feedback to help the series evolve and make it even better, hopefully.
It starts on Wednesday! See you back here then.