In 1993 I sent my first ever email. I think it was something profound along the lines of “Is that you?” sent to my brother John, having made a guess at what his email address was. Excited by the new approach to communication, I went back to my then supervisor, extolling the virtues of email and trying to convince him that this was ‘the Future’.
The Future is now here and email is the bane of my life and intrudes any time, any place. I was on annual leave at the end of last week, but through the wonders of the iPhone was able to respond to an urgent message from the toilets of the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff. Other holidays have seen me standing up to my knees in seawater trying to get a signal. At these points I realise that this isn’t living but is a form of slavery to the machine.
On a typical day I reckon I receive around 80 emails (once the junk and spam has been filtered out). These are probably 30% circulars and general rubbish, 25% points of information requiring no response, 20% asking me to do things that other people would be better suited to do instead, 15% stuff requiring action and 10% chitchat. I think I probably spend 2 hours or so during each day and about the same out of working hours keeping it all under control.
I want to cut this down and do my bit by sending less email to other people. Crumbs- I may even start using the phone (another dreadful instrument of slavery in my view), or (perish the thought) actually going to speak to the person in the office next-door instead of sending an email! In the past I have subjected myself to a rule whereby I don’t allow myself to look at email other than in certain periods of the day. That boosts productivity but doesn’t reduce the burden.
Something has to change. If anyone has any useful suggestions, I am all ears.