Brett Sadler

Charles Dickens, the hamster wheel and the Email drain


For me, Email has become a real problem around expectation. People expect a quick of even instant reply to an Email, even though they have no idea how busy the person at the other end is. Email has become one of the main forms of conversing with one another within a work environment. Here’s some headline stats I’ve read in the past few days:

–          an estimated 2.8million Emails are sent every second;

–          the average UK worker receives 12,000 Emails a year.

As with lots of things in life, for me it’s about expectations. But let’s be clear, Email shouldn’t be about Great Expectations. It should be about the reducing expectation of receiving a quick reply.

Emails can somehow dominate your working life with seemingly no way of addressing this. The balance just feels all wrong. After all, even if you don’t send out masses of Emails, without fail, masses of Emails still appear each day in your in box. That feeling of being on a hamster wheel is very hard to escape.

So what can you do about it? Personally I’ve been fighting against the Email drain for several months now and have three main tips I’d like to share:

1)      I’ve got an Email auto message which is sent back to anyone who Emails me saying that I only aim to check my Emails at key points of the day.

2)      I only send an Email if I have to which was a challenging change in mind-set for me. My tendency to fire off an Email as soon as I think about it is hard to resist even now.

3)      I’ve turned by Email pop-up message off so that every time a new message appears I’m not constantly reminded of being held to ransom by the hamster wheel.

And you know what? The most amazing thing happens. Other people get the auto Email message and comment what a good idea it is. And so the idea spreads. I’ve even found people like Nick Atkin (@nickatkin_hht) with his organisations plan to ban internal Email.

At the very least I hope its resulted in some people pausing before firing off that Email and may also have caused an increase in good old fashioned face-to-face talking.

So, I challenge you to alter your Emailing ways from this point forwards. It’s truly amazing how empowering it feels to take control!

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