A modest proposal: eliminate email

The concept is simple. Employees no longer have personalized email addresses. Instead, each individual posts a schedule of two or three stretches of time during the day when he or she will be available for communication. During these office hours, the individual guarantees to be reachable in person, by phone, and by instant messenger technologies like Slack. Outside of someone’s stated office hours, however, you cannot command their attention. If you need them, you have to keep track of what you need until they’re next available.

On the flipside, when you’re between your own scheduled office hours, you have no inboxes to check or messages demanding response. You’re left, in other words, to simply work. And of course, when you’re home in the evening or on vacation, the fact that there’s no inbox slowly filling up with urgent obligations allows a degree of rest and recharge that’s all but lost from the lives of most knowledge workers today.

This is from an HBR article by Cal Newport. You can and should follow his blog.

I want to hear what you think… particularly the ways in which you can make this (or some version of it) work. Drop me a note using the “Contact me” button on the ruler.

Collaboration: email vs. wiki

And a visual that is worth a thousand words.

email vs wiki

See also: Wikis in Plain English

Email is about the reader

    • Email is about the reader, not the writer. Don’t think about what you have to say. Think about what the reader needs to hear. There’s nothing more tedious than an email that starts out with 200 words of self-justification when all it needs is a single sentence containing a question.
    • Email exists to solve problems, not create them. (…)
    • The headline is the email. The subject line should be clear, factual and specific. It should also encourage the reader to open and read the email. (…)
    • Fewer words, greater understanding. (…) With email, shorter is better. Also short words are best.
    • Think before you forward.
    • Respect privacy in group emails. [A] round-robin email addressed to hundreds of people where all their addresses were included (…) is a gross breach of privacy.
    • Be succinct. Imagine your email was a telegram and that you were paying by the word.
    • Highlight actions and key points.
    • Re-read your emails before you send them. Out loud. Rewrite it if you can make it shorter. (Bad Language)

      The last word on e-mails

      You’ve just finished composing an e-mail to a potential client you’ve talked with a few times before. Now for the tricky part: your sign-off. Should you use “Sincerely,” “Kind regards” or “Cheers”? How do you sound friendly without coming across as unprofessional?

      This article analyzes a few sign-offs. Here’s what it says about my favorite:

      The salutation: “Cheers”
      Bates: Only use this sign-off for friends and business colleagues you might meet for coffee.
      Kerr: You can use this with someone you know well, but if you’re trying to make a business impression, this is not a great way to say goodbye when you’re first doing business with someone. Save it for after having established a bond.

      Related:

      To email or not to email: Michael Dell

      Top 10 when NOT to email

      You are your inbox

      Communication tools map

      communicationtoolsmap.jpg

      See full discussion at How to Save the World.

      Related:

      Current communication ecosystem

      Wireless addiction