1=I love email so much I live in my inbox
2=The thrill is gone from email, but still use it because many others I work with still use it.
3=Email is a chore, I prefer other ways to communicate with friends.
4=I hate email. It is so irrevelant that I only use it talk to my grandmother.
About 5-8 years ago, I used to do a workshop called "Information Coping Skills" for people who felt overwhelmed by the information age. The online resources are here. I used the "getting to zero" and "getting things done" frameworks to teach people methods for being efficient with email.
(Holly from NTEN has a post "Is Your Email Managing You?" and points to the video version of this slide deck.) The idea is that if you're overwhelmed, there's a problem in the way you work with the tool.
I recently stumbled across this YouTube video of Robert Scoble discussing how he processes his 10s of 1000s of emails. It is interesting to hear how other people organize and process their email. I'm constantly on the search for ideas to make email less of chore.
I was surprised to see that Scoble uses Outlook, although maybe not. As my readers may recall, I switched from OutLook about 6 weeks to using gmail. I got some excellent tips which I have put into practice, but I'm still not 100% happy with gmail. Here's some reflections:
- The Better Gmail Firefox extension has been wonderful. The color coding of labels has been very helpful. It also prompted me to really think the way I organize by labels (which are folders). In Outlook, my folders were topical, not organized by workflow. So, instead of a project name, I now have all my "follow up" in one folder, "to write" in another. I'm still struggling with not being overwhelmed and trying to not to loose things. I wish someone would write a "Getting Things Done With Gmail."
- I really miss the ability to sort by sender and subject line. That was how I navigated to what I needed. Now, I have to put a label on it or remember and use search.
- The google calendar doesn't sync with my treo, although I can read my calendar online if I have an Internet connection. That isn't a good thing for me. The same thing with contacts, although I discovered that Plaxo 3 does synch with gmail. So, I'm really dependent on an Internet connection to get to my information. Is there a way to get an offline copy of your contacts and calendar - and be able to add and sync?
- I keep loosing email. Now, to be honest, not sure I'm deleting stuff or not.
- Scoble mentions in the video that there are different type of email users - "gmail users" versus "outlook users" - and their habits are sort developed or shaped by the software itself. Therefore, I am understanding my this habit shift - from Outlook to gmail - is a little difficult for me. I haven't reverted back, I've thought of it ..
- Web-based email is slower and I'm doing more clicks.
I met Joe Casco at the Boston MediaMakers a few months back at Boston MediaMakers and he made a comment about how email is really outdated - it's over 25 years old and that we need to evolve. I thought about what Joe said when I came across this snippet from the Speed of Creativity via Stephen Downes
"While email may be becoming more irrelevant for teenagers and older power-users of the Internet and other digital technologies, it certainly is NOT irrelevant for most K-12 teachers in the United States in my perception and possibly K-12 teachers elsewhere around the world." Maybe, but the thrill is gone. Email subscriptions to my newsletter have leveled off (though RSS continues to climb). Meanwhile, the number of useful emails in my inbox has been steadily dropping. Wesley Fryer, Moving at the Speed of Creativity, July 20, 2007.
Perhaps we need this software?