When Not To Use Email

October 31, 2006


According to Gartner, about 30% of employees’ emails are spam. Not the Viagara kind of spam, but what is called “occupational” spam: emails from colleagues.

Why did email go from being a “wonder drug” to something that clogs up our inboxes, makes us feel overwhelmed, and ends up reducing our productivity? A podcast from The Economist about wikis (“The Wide World of Wikis”, May 12, 2006) suggests we’re using email for something it wasn’t designed for.

Email began as a tool for asynchronous communication – talking to people who weren’t online at the same time as us. But even now that we’re more connected than ever, we’re still using email in the same way.

The hosts of the podcast suggest we should use (“God forbid”) the phone, or instant messenging (the way those trend-setting teenagers do) for the people who are around at the same time as us. For those who are not, stop! Don’t send that Word document via email; use a wiki instead.


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