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Entries in Email (3)


Managing Your Email

[See also the tag Email on this blog for other tips on managing email.] 

This piece by Jeff Weiner via Lifehacker -- I wholeheartedly agree with this approach! Do these seven things to make email work for you, versus the other way around. 

Seven Ways to Manage Email So It Doesn't Manage You

I'm always struck by the number of people who complain about the amount of email they receive and how much they despise their inbox—not because their complaints aren't valid but because my own view couldn't be more different.

By design, my inbox has essentially become the central hub of my workflow—it's the way I routinely communicate and exchange information with our 4,300+ employees operating in 26 cities around the world. That's not to say I've always been a fan of email, or that I haven't had my own Sisyphean inbox experiences. However, over the years I've developed several practical guidelines that have enabled me to manage my inbox effectively and ensure it's not managing me.

See the link for the full list. 

  1. Send less email to start with. 
  2. Triage your inbox and tag/star/etc. messages for attention. 
  3. Establish a routine. I think this is the most important tactic for manging your email. 
  4. Be precise with your words. 
  5. Be precise and intentional with your To: and Cc:
  6. Acknowledge receipt. 
  7. Take combustible stuff offline. 




Inbox Zero

This has become a bit of a meme -- that one should always drive one's email inbox to empty, and not use it as a reading list, filing cabinet, or todo list.

Some solutions for doing so are variations of declaring email bankruptcy and just deleting everything, but I think that's a false and potentially irresponsible solution. As Rory Vaden writes in "Delete This: 7 Tips for Getting Your Inbox to Zero," in Fast Company, "that doesn’t work in the real world. In the real world I have customers, employees, vendors, accountants, family, and friends who are all expecting a response and often needing a response to move initiatives forward in their lives." 

Vaden goes on to write 

And while I do also appreciate the efforts of -- and have derived some value from -- the world's well-meaning "time management experts," I have found that most of them have created systems whose complexities create more stress and work than they solve, or they have strategies that work on their own inboxes because they don’t actually have what resembles a real corporate job with lots of various stakeholders.

So what does work in the real world? I’m not sure that I have the real answer -- in fact I’m pretty sure that I don’t. What I do have is a few survival strategies that seemed to help me keep my beast of an inbox at bay and under some type of reasonable control. ...

While I disagree with some of Vaden's strategies -- saving messages outside of the email system, as Word documents? -- and some are just plain quaint -- have your assistant weed your inbox? -- his tips are generally good. 

Personally, I highly recommend you read Bit Literacy: Productivity in the Age of Information and E-mail Overload, by Mark Hurst. (Reasonably decent summary here.) Hurst covers the key strategy -- act on each message or delegate, defer, delete, archive, or ignore it -- in addition to offering some useful philosophical perspectives. 



A few items caught my eye in the context of recent news from Facebook that its messaging app, Facebook Messenger, will be updated over time to allow anyone -- including people with no Facebook account -- to sign up for the service using just their name and mobile number, and send messages via data plans, avoiding (SMS) text messaging and its cost.

This further accelerates the nibbling away at text messaging by messaging within Facebook; by Twitter, Foursquare, etc.; and Apples's and BlackBerry's internal systems. 

Myself, I have seen friends and colleagues shift from email and text to messaging -- Facebook Messenger in particular.

"SMS Turns 20, Marches Towards Irrelevance," by Dan Rowinski via readwrite mobile

Smartphones Offer Texting Alternatives

The harbinger of the fall of the text is the smartphone. The following notion cannot be overstated: Smartphones are the equivalent of powerful computers that go wherever we do. As such, almost anything that can be done on a computer can now be done on a smartphone or a tablet. That means popular chat and instant messaging services that were once the domain of the PC are now available to anybody with a smartphone and a data connection.

Almost all of the major smartphone operating systems now have their own proprietary messaging services. For Android, that means Google Talk (also referred to as GChat, but Google does not actually call it that). For Apple’s iOS that means iMessage. Microsoft has its Windows Live Messenger. Research In Motion has BlackBerry Messenger (BBM). These services are used by hundreds of millions of people across the globe. Several of these services integrate texting into a unified messaging system, such as the message service in Windows Phone 8 as well as iMessage. 

Outside of platform-specific messaging systems, services like Skype or Facebook Messenger can work across any mobile device that has the app installed. In addition, there are many different enterprise-grade communication services from the likes of Citrix, Cisco and Fuze (among many others). Many of these also offer traditional unified communications (UC) features like voice and video calling, tele-presence and chat-based messaging.

Then there are cross-platform apps that can be used by any smartphone. One of the biggest is called WhatsApp, a popular service that offers cross-platform messaging on any device that has a data plan (see WhatsApp Denies Facebook Deal Rumor - But It Still Makes Sense). Pinger is a similar cross-messaging service. There are also apps that mimic old push-to-talk (PTT) walkie-talkie like services, such as Voxer, an app that allows you to leave a text or voice message to another user. 

The fact of the matter is that traditional phone services like the call or the text are beginning to be pushed to the wayside as telephones become more like computers. That does not necessarily mean that texting is doomed, but it decreases its relevance and may eventually push it to the margin of mobile communications.

Facebook’s Big Messenger Play

On Tuesday, Facebook announced an interesting move that could end up being a significant blow to the future of texting. The social network released a new Messenger app for Android that allows people to use Facebook’s communication service without a Facebook account. All you need to do is download the Facebook Messenger app on Android, enter your phone number, and begin texting all of your mobile contacts. The new Messenger for Android will be able to communicate with any of your contacts, start group chats and share pictures. Eventually, Facebook Messenger will come to feature (non-smart) phones as well.

"Text Messages May Be In Decline, But They Are Not Going To Die, And Here's Why," by Nick Statt via readwrite mobile

As the 20th anniversary of the text message came and passed last week, many in the tech and mobile business world (including Dan Rowinski of ReadWrite) couldn’t help but declare the death of SMS, claiming that text messaging is finally over the hill and on a one-way path to irrelevance. This was after mobile analyst Chetan Sharma announced that the average number of monthly texts in the U.S. fell for the first time, by 3%.
While analysts and market watchers have good reason to think that the 160-character communication method won’t be seeing a historic comeback given the numerous free options available, the most recent death knells completely ignore how pervasive the traditional text message is in our communication culture and why that guarantees its survival right alongside email and the phone call.
They also ignore the fact that in the face of a decline in traditional text messaging, U.S. carriers will likely begin to buckle over keeping high rate plans, giving up their once-astronomical text profits for a chance to keep the market from slipping away completely.

"Workers Can't (or Won't) Escape From Their eMail," by Dennis McCafferty via Baseline.

Do you sometimes feel as if you're perpetually buried inside your inbox? Join the club. Despite the massive popularity of social media, we spend a staggering amount of hours sorting, reading and sending email, according to a recent survey from Mimecast. eMail isn't simply a person-to-person communications tool. It's also handy as a search engine and file-storage option, findings show. Sometimes, it's a viable alternative to in-person "face time" at the office, as four of 10 information professionals say they regularly send and receive work-related emails outside of normal hours, and one-quarter admit that they've sent emails late in the evening purely to "show commitment" to the job. "While email is not perfect, it seems that information workers are reluctant to adopt other social tools if it means they have to leave their inbox behind," says Peter Bauer, CEO and co-founder of Mimecast, a supplier of cloud-based email solutions. "Therefore, rather than trying to entice users away from email and on to other platforms, IT teams should introduce new, inbox-friendly collaboration tools and make the data stored within the archive more accessible." An estimated 2,500 information workers in the United States, United Kingdom and South Africa took part in the research.

Eleven slides with information such as 

  • Employees spend an average of 888 hours/year on email.
  • Nearly 90% rely on email to search for documents or information in their inbox. 
  • A third of business users expects email and social media to converge within five years. 
  • Three-quarters of workers prefer email to social media for sharing information. 


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