I Can’t Kill Email.

How I learned to take responsibility for that.

I broke the cycle, just not the platform…

According to research conducted by the Radicati Group, in 2015 over 196.4 billion emails are sent per day across the world, with around 60% of these being business emails. Therein lies the issue.

Towards the end of 2014 I declared that Email Must Die. I was determined that 2015 would be the year in which I completely gave up email, but from the start it became clear that this wasn’t going to be so simple. A month into the experiment, I updated that I’d managed to reduce my email usage significantly, but not entirely.

Six months in, that’s how things remain — reduced, but not eradicated. The difference now is that I’m not sure I actually want (or need) anything more than that. My relationship with email has altered to the point that the negative aspects of it have disappeared:

Inbox-related stress… gone.

Constant checking… stopped.

Personal email… eradicated.

Business email… minimised.

The thing with email is that it’s a method of communication. Just because we’ve come to abuse it, that doesn’t mean it’s fundamentally flawed. Used appropriately, email is very useful.

The Journey to #LessEmail.

Part of my inspiration to take the plunge and try to kill email was Claire Burge, who successfully managed a year without it and continues to be a passionate and vocal advocate of the death of email. We share similar perspectives on email and its use (or misuse), but our experiences in reducing it have led us to different conclusions. I think it might be due to circumstance.

When I decided to kick the email habit, I had embarked on The Work Project. In the early stages, I had no clients or suppliers to work with and most of my email traffic fell into two categories — avoidable or junk. Soon after starting my #NoEmail drive, I started to get work. Immediately, in order to pay the bills, I needed to communicate and maintain relationships with people and organisations who rely heavily on email.

Where possible I move all conversations to the most appropriate platform and have become far more committed to Glip, Slack, Skype, Twitter and others. Despite this, I just can’t escape the fact that sometimes:

  • Email is the most appropriate form of communication;
  • Email is the de facto form of communication for the person I’m communicating with.

All of a sudden, when livelihood depends on it, the my way or the highway approach to #NoEmail seems a step too far. Instead, I’ve opted to start communicating with everyone and moving conversations to the most appropriate channel — introducing Glip to a customer project, picking up the phone instead of pressing reply, starting our conversation with a Skype call. It’s very difficult — and perhaps a little counter-productive to refuse to email with someone who is committed to email. For me, helping them to gradually change their ways is far more useful.

I raised these points when I was privileged to be the guest on the Life Without Email Vodcast with Claire and the excellent Luis Suarez — pioneer of #NoEmail in his time at IBM and ongoing campaigner for better ways to work. There’s no doubt that the way we use email is excessive, often inappropriate and at worst, unnecessary. Technology has enabled us to communicate and share freely in so many more ways, but that doesn’t necessarily make email a less valuable tool… if we use it properly.

It’s unsurprising that, with social media so prevalent, I’ve been able to eradicate personal email 100%. The alternatives for personal communication are entrenched and obvious. Sharing is now such a well-known notion that the idea of emailing a photograph today seems crazy.

Every weekend I call my brother in Thailand on Skype and speak to him face to face. There’s no need to email, we talk like we’re in the room. The world of work hasn’t reached this level of evolution in the way it communicates.

Sharing a document via a OneDrive or Dropbox link, as opposed to attaching it to an email, is still such an out-there notion in business that people are yet to trust it en masse. Sure, most readers on Medium find file sharing second nature, but there’s a very large part of the workforce that doesn’t.

This is why, six months into my email experiment, I’m still sending on average 1–2 emails per day and checking my inbox twice. Until the alternatives are widely adopted (and appropriately used), email remains entrenched in the world of work.

The Alternatives Have the Same Problems!

In the early days, email was going to herald the paperless office — at best it’s paper-lite. Similarly, the new dawn of collaboration platforms is going to destroy email… is it really?

My friend Lee Mallon of Rarely Impossible started a #NoEmail drive in his company around the same time as I started my personal journey. He’s become a leading voice of the #NoEmail movement as it has started to gain attention in 2015 and has been interviewed multiple times by the BBC on the subject.

As much as Lee is committed to reducing email, he makes the excellent point that the much-touted alternative platforms such as Slack are merely platforms — it’s how you use them that counts. By flippantly over-using a Slack channel, it becomes email by another name. What we really need to focus on is our approach to communication — what needs to be communicated and how best to do it, rather than the platform itself.

When you identify the best way to communicate, the best platform for that action will become naturally apparent — if you open your mind and let it.

Why I’m Taking the #LessEmail Stance.

Here I return to two friends. I met both via social media and to this day rarely, if ever, email either of them.

Perry Timms created his own version of #NoEmail this year and started to run a zero inbox — leaving nothing unchecked, unactioned or undeleted each day. He’s found it to be very helpful to his productivity and, like me, he only sends an email when it’s necessary to do so, generally finding more appropriate methods of communication for every conversation.

Doug Shaw wanted to reduce email, but found a complete #NoEmail position impossible, for many of the reasons I encountered. The idea that we should dictate whether others are allowed to communicate with us in a certain way seems a little harsh, particularly when communication may be with a new client or contact.

It was in a Facebook conversation between these two that Doug coined the #LessEmail idea. Something less final and allowing for the fact that sometimes, email is just fine. I’m adopting that.

Over the last six months, my relationship with email has changed out of all recognition and I’m now confident I have the balance for myself and my work, while creating opportunities to help others rethink their relationship with email — and workplace communication in general. I’m proud to play my part in the #NoEmail conversation, but in all honesty I’m far more comfortable with the flexibility that #LessEmail offers.

When I consider everything, the single rule that defines this all for me is:

Use the most appropriate method of communication for every conversation.

Does it need to be any more complicated than that?

By Andy Swann on July 6, 2015.
Exported from Medium on July 15, 2016.

5 Simple Ways to Instantly Improve Your Relationship with Email.

Rethinking your relationship with email and reducing your dependency on it can be a benefit in many ways. From reduced stress and anxiety, to improvements in productivity, efficiency and collaboration, it can also help you enjoy communicating.

I’ve been running an experiment on reducing my use of email in 2015. Here are the five simplest ways I’ve found so far to change the way I approach email.

  1. Be disciplined about when you check it.
    So many of us are guilty of habitually checking and re-checking our inboxes, constantly refreshing in the hope an important response, or new opportunity, will appear. We’re addicted to it.Break the cycle by becoming disciplined about how and when you check your inbox and spend time responding to emails. If it’s going to come, it’s going to come whether you check now, or in a few hours. If the sender requires an immediate or more urgent response than that, they will make sure they get it. If it’s important enough, they will call.Save yourself time and stress, while increasing productivity by setting time aside for email. Twice a day should do it. I find 30 minutes in the morning and 30 in the afternoon works.
  2.  

  3. Run a Zero Inbox.
    When checking email, take action on everything – respond, act or delete. Flagging for later will only clutter your inbox, add to your stress and increase the likelihood of overlooking something.If you’re being disciplined about when you check email, you’ll have that time set aside to act and start and finish each working day with a clear mind and an empty inbox.
  4.  

  5. Don’t reply unnecessarily.
    It’s very easy to press reply and send an unnecessary email containing nothing more than ‘thanks’. It clutters inboxes and adds no value to yourself or the recipient. It also wastes your time in writing and their time in reading.I’ve long wished that email services could add a ‘seen’ button, much like the like button on Facebook to help wean us off of this habit. It’s a great example though of how alternative communication platforms, where a seen notification is visible can be far more useful for back-and-forth conversations.Don’t look on email as an instant messaging tool. Use the rule that if you wouldn’t send a written letter for it, an email isn’t required either. If you need a more flowing, two-way or instant chat – use a platform that’s designed for that.
  6.  

  7. Unsubscribe or use a roll-up service.
    Much of the noise we receive in our inboxes comes from mailing lists we were added to – often involuntarily. I found that by unsubscribing from every unnecessary email list, such as those I was added to after making a one-off purchase from a website, my inbox traffic reduced considerably.I became more likely to see – and had more time to digest the emails and newsletters I actually wanted. For those I had only a passing or occasional interest in, I decided to use a roll up service like unroll.me to allow me to skim and grab what I want, when I want it without cluttering my inbox.Try doing the same for instant email alleviation!
  8.  

  9. Move every conversation to the most appropriate platform.
    I’ve already alluded to this. Email does not need to be your de facto platform for communication. Use it where it’s appropriate, where it’s not… don’t.Here are a few alternatives to get you thinking:Twitter – Introductions, grabbing attention, quick questions.
    Facebook – Instant messaging, longer/ open questions.
    Slack, Glip, etc. – Teamwork, collaboration, project/ task management, document sharing.
    Skype – Instant messaging, video calls, voice calls.You can be so much more creative and practical too. Instead of attaching documents to emails, share them via OneDrive or DropBox. Upload presentations to Slideshare or Prezi. Conduct polls at work via Yammer.

Here’s my golden rule when it comes to email:

Use the most appropriate method of communication for every conversation.

It doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that!

Think before you email. Particularly in the workplace, make it one of your methods of communication, not your only one.

Bonus Tip: Move Your Buttons.
Much of our email twitching comes via our smartphones on the move. Make it harder for yourself to keep checking by moving your mail icon away from your front screen. If it’s an effort to get to, you’re more likely to access it only when you need to.

If you’d like to talk about ways you, your team or your organisation can rethink your relationship with email, I’m always happy to have a chat. Feel free to use any of the ways outlined on The Work Project website to get in touch, or start by Tweeting me @AndySwann.

The First Month of #NoEmail

Breaking the cycle of a lifetime…

It’s now just over a month since I declared my intention to go email free in 2015. Here are some reflections.

#NoEmail can be done. Already it has changed the way I work, helped me get more organised, more efficient and more productive. I’ve also seen noticeably reduced stress levels over the month, which has been great for the people around me — although I’d attribute that equally to the impacts of the exercise regime I’ve given myself.

Let’s start with the confession…

In January I sent 22 emails.

Although that’s a massive reduction on my previous 100+, my original aim was to send no more than 15 in the whole of 2015. I absolutely could have sent less and I’m still fully expecting to eliminate email almost entirely this year, but I started carefully. I’m well aware that this experiment is about making improvements to communication, not pissing people off by refusing to connect in a way that suits them.

The Positives

These are the things that have gone well in the first month. I’ve thrown in some suggestions that may help you, if you fancy reducing your own email traffic.

Reduced Email

I have all but stopped the relentless flow of email into my inbox. The noise is reduced too. If anything arrives that I don’t want or need, I unsubscribe or delete. It means that when I do check my inbox, anything there requires my attention and I can look for more appropriate ways to continue the conversation.

These are the main platforms I’m using as appropriate, instead of email:

•Phone
•Twitter
•Skype
•WhatsApp
•LinkedIn
•Google+/ Hangouts/ Drive
•Facebook/ Messenger App
•Uskape/ Glip/ Slack
•OneDrive/ Dropbox

Where possible, I’m being creative too — for example finding ways to communicate more visually, using Instagram.

Tip: Think about how you communicate and the reasons. Look at alternatives to email for each purpose and start experimenting.

Checking Less

Because I’m less reliant on email, I’ve reduced checking it to once a day — usually in the afternoon. In fact, I rarely ever start the email programme on my computer and do the cursory daily check via my phone. On the phone, I’ve removed the email notification counter from the lock screen, avoiding constant reminders to check email.

By checking less, I have more time, get less distracted and it’s impacting on the way I work. The fear of missing something important, or not responding quickly enough disappeared very quickly. If something’s important enough, they will phone and I haven’t yet found an email that couldn’t wait a few hours for a respnse.

In an interesting Twitter conversation this month, @MervynDinnen made the great point that good news comes by phone, bad news by email. So reducing how often you stare at your inbox, might have an impact on your positivity too.

Tip: Turn off in-your-face email reminders and set yourself a maximum of 3 (ideally less) dedicated times in the day to check your email.

More Organised

I’m actively driving conversations down the most appropriate channels and finding better ways to share files, communicate and (although I dislike this buzzword of the moment) collaborate. Since my days as a public sector records manager nearly a decade ago, the multiple versions of files created by attachments and using Cc has really bugged me, so I’m finally ending it.

Onedrive and Dropbox have become my go-to places, sharing folders and files from a single location rather than attaching and sending. As an unexpected side-effect, this has made me more organised.

I have various pieces of work that require me to provide photos of myself. Instead of finding an appropriate one, attaching then sending, I’ve created a folder in One Drive with all my decent photos in it. When I need to provide photos, I just send a link to the folder directly from the file sharing app and let the recipient select the most appropriate one for their use. I’m taking the same approach with shared work and in general, any files I need to share for any reason.

As well as being quicker and making me keep my files organised, it also gives me far better control over versions and keeping things up to date. Comments and revisions can be added or swapped-in directly at source and as an unexpected bi-product of reduced email I find I’m far better at calendar control/ updating — I can’t just rely on a combination of memory and a flagged mail.

Tip: Instead of attachments, try using OneDrive, Dropbox and Google Drive.

More Productive

#NoEmail has made me think about every message I send, whatever the platform. Sometimes, we send emails where a simple acknowledgement would suffice. Twitter favourites and Facebook Likes are great for preventing that kind of unnecessary, time consuming and inbox filling response.

Because I’m thinking about what information/ conversation needs to be passed, with whom, when and why, I’m driving my conversations through appropriate platforms. Everything is much more considered, structured and has a purpose.

I’m really keen on email-free productivity tools and over the last month I’ve ramped up my use of Uskape and experimented with Slack and Glip too. I’ll probably review them in a future post, but they’re all useful and provide far better platforms for productivity and team working than a reliance on email.

I’ve started experimenting with audio notes too. My friend @Ingridium introduced me to an entrepreneurship MOOC from MIT. It seemed interesting, so we decided to both work through it and share our thoughts. As I came through the first section, I recorded my thoughts as audio, then uploaded it to a Glip conversation Ingrid had invited me to. When I go in there now, I can clearly see our chats, the files we’ve shared, images and -really usefully- the links we’ve mentioned in our conversation on this particular subject.

Tip: Experiment with Uskape, Glip and Slack. See what other applications are out there for productivity too.

No More Personal Email

The Yahoo! Mail account I set up in 1998 served me well through the email years. By the end of 2014 though, it was a mess of hundreds of daily deal emails, subscriptions and spam — at best a distraction, at worst malicious. Very rarely anything I actually needed popped up and looking at the mammoth effort it would take to untangle it in the way I had done with my work emails, I decided just to give it up.

I’ve 100% given up personal emails. It’s been great. My friends are all on Twitter, facebook, or have my phone number — there’s no reason for email. I’m writing down shipping and booking confirmations in OneNote as they happen and can track progress on websites, so no need to check for those.

I considered a subscription consolidator like Unroll.Me (others are available), but decided that for my purposes I just wanted a clean break.

Tip: Give up your personal emails for a week and see what happens. Try moving all your mailing list subscriptions into a service like unroll.me and see how that impacts your inbox.

In the movies, it always starts with something that spreads. Quickly, the apocalypse hits. Survivors are left walking the desolate landscape with civilisation and communication as we know it destroyed forever. Some try to continue living with the same rules they always had, others realise that to survive they must adapt.

Technology is changing the way we can communicate… is this the start of the email apocalypse?

The Challenges

Despite my best intentions, as it stands I haven’t eliminated email 100%. I could have, but circumstances have held me back. These are the things that were less easy and contributed to me sending 22 emails in a month.

Still Emailing

The #noemail push is related to my experiments with The Work Project. As I’m trying unique ways to make a living, there are some opportunities and instances where accepting an email and replying is far more prudent than trying to convince someone to move the conversation elsewhere.

Also, where I’m working with an organisation who email information, sometimes it’s just easier to accept it. This week, for example, I was sent flight and hotel arrangements for some upcoming speaking slots on The Future of Work. It would have been ridiculous to refuse to confirm via email and doing so would have severely complicated things — the opposite of the #NoEmail purpose.

For those of us who are moving away from email, we still need to appreciate we’re the minority and while we should do what we can to redirect conversations to more appropriate platforms, preaching and refusing will just piss people off. Right now I can’t afford that!

The emails I’ve sent have been minimal though and now don’t impose on my day. I’m still determined to reduce them almost 100% this year, but it may take a few months longer than I thought.

Out of Office

I could have driven even more email traffic elsewhere, but the way my email accounts were set up via Outlook 365 meant that traditional out-of-office couldn’t be applied. I had this great message set up for all new emails as of 5th Jan, but it quickly became apparent that the rules I needed to apply to the mailbox to send it weren’t working and the message was repeating and repeating itself to the same few people. Rather than annoy everyone, I took it down.

My problems here are a good example of the ancient infrastructure that still drives email and the frustrations that make me want to move away from it.

Findings

I’ve come to rely on my phone as my complete communication hub now. I use native apps for everything and rarely use browser versions, or my laptop at all, if I can avoid it. The phone keeps all my communication methods together with instant access, notifications and updates.

Push notifications are essential and help me judge what to address when. They work in a way that seems more controllable than a generic number of unread emails. Because I drive conversations down certain routes I know how urgent certain notifications are likely to be and check them in my own time. It’s only when the phone rings that I know the response required is instant, so my productivity is helped.

My only slight bugbear is the lack of native apps (and therefor push notifications) for some of the productivity tools I use, but I’m assured they’re on their way. It probably doesn’t help that I’m a Windows Phone advocate and wouldn’t swap my Lumia 930 for the world, but I have pretty much everything I need.

Product Hunt

Reliance on email creates a lethargy — most of us accept it as the de facto communication platform. By challenging that, I’ve become far more active in searching for apps and products that help me be more productive and more organised. Product Hunt is a great place to search — ten minutes on there and you’re guaranteed to find a new productivity tool to experiment with.

Tip: Search Productivity on Product Hunt and see what you can find!

The First #NoEmail Month

This has been really positive. Although I haven’t avoided email entirely, many people who are contacting me for the first time are actively acknowledging the experiment and finding other ways to communicate — which we’re all benefiting from.

It’s just the beginning of the project and as my confidence in myself and my own work grows, my ability to reinforce my #NoEmail drive will gain pace. I’ve completely removed personal emails from my life and replaced them with more instant, appropriate ways to communicate, I’m well on the way to doing the same with my work.

The thing is, I just feel better. The stress of watching for emails to drop in or being overwhelmed by the sheer volume has given way to communication once again becoming for communication’s sake. It’s helping me be productive, organised and (most importantly) happy.

I will make exceptions where circumstances dictate, purely because I’m out to make improvements for myself that I hope others will want to share; I’m not out to be difficult or piss people off. This is about removing barriers and improving communication, after all.

#NoEmail Pace Setters

These people are my #NoEmail heroes and have all been very helpful and supportive either directly, by sharing their previous experiments, or embarking on their own versions of #NoEmail in 2015:

@ClaireBurge

@Elsua

@SmallJones

@PerryTimms

@LeeMallon

If you’d like to talk about ways to reduce email, how it’s worked for me, or anything else, I’d love to chat. I’m always available on Twitter @AndySwann… just don’t email me 😉

By Andy Swann on February 6, 2015.
Exported from Medium on July 15, 2016.

The Last Days of Email

Re-humanising the way I communicate.

In the final days of email, I started to switch off.

Email EndFirst, I switched off notifications from the various social media accounts that had gone unread and filled my inbox daily. Then I started unsubscribing from the many, many newsletters and advertising mailings I until now had received with increasing regularity — but never read. Then, I looked at what was left. It amounted to very little.

Almost my entire inbox was noise.

With the noise removed, I could tune in to the important messages as they arrived. But, maybe subconsciously, maybe because me and email just never got on, I quickly found that I’d already moved important conversations and interactions elsewhere. I was left with an empty inbox — and no impending apocalypse.

Although I’m waiting until January 1st 2015 to put on the auto-responses, I’m already feeling liberated. The days spent constantly glancing at my phone, or maximising the Outlook window in the twitching hope of finding something new, are gone.

I’m still 100% connected, potentially more so. Notifications pop up on my phone when my various communication accounts have things for me to look at, but I don’t feel the horrific twitch to check these incessantly in hope — I just react when it’s a convenient time.

Because beneath it all, I have a phone.

Conversation is the must human contact and if there’s something we need to discuss, what more direct way to do it than picking up the phone?

This move away from email is about more than productivity and organisation, it also pushes me to stop hiding behind the easy option… sending words. My ability to communicate in a real way is now necessary, the comfort blanket’s gone. If I want to communicate with you, I need to think about it first — make it genuine, make it responsive and make it human.

Admittedly, there are worries, legitimate ones too:

  • I know that most still use email, so my lack of it will inconvenience or annoy others. For that I apologise.
  • I have concerns about chosen communication tools that don’t offer native apps for my phone, mainly around missed notifications. But it’s up to me to make checking them at a certain time each day part of my routine.
  • I’m aware that there will be some things that, because of the way the world works at the moment, will have to be sent to me by email. I’m ready to minimise them.

I take heart because I know others have done it and are doing it. A movement is starting.

I’m feeling confident, but mostly I’m feeling great about communicating in better, more appropriate and more human ways.

When I set out on The Work Project, I was exploring the effect that ‘work’ as a concept or structure has on us. Productivity and personal organisation are major parts of that. Out of all the major changes I’ve made so far, giving up email is going to give me the most instant hit of benefit.

I can’t wait.

2015 is the year I go email free. Let’s communicate!

By Andy Swann on December 30, 2014.
Exported from Medium on July 15, 2016.

Email Must Die.

There are far better (and less stressful) ways to communicate.

I just deleted over 1,000 emails. Many of them were unread.

email1Over the last couple of weeks I found myself progressively stressed and the ever-increasing number of new and unread emails did nothing to help my panic, documenting my poor response in a spiralling fashion, clocking me every time I checked my phone or computer, reminding me of my horrific tardiness.

After a chaotic few weeks, I grabbed some time yesterday just to take stock. Priority #1 was the ubiquitous ‘catch up on emails’. As I worked through my inbox, the majority of mail fitted into one of three categories:

•Outright Junk
•Unnecessary
•Notifications from other systems (which I log in and pick up anyway)

I’d largely dealt with any important messages and those that could be immediately addressed as they came in, but as I cleansed, I discovered a frustrating minority of emails — the lost or missed, but useful ones.

The few emails I really needed to pick up, or would have loved to follow up, which crept into my inbox at a time I wasn’t noticing, lost amidst a slew of LinkedIn notifications (Andy, See how your posts are doing), spam (He he Brunette in car video here watch) and non-event (Latest from IoD Dorset). The emails that, when I finally unearthed them, were either too late to follow up reasonably, expired or required over-zealous apology in an attempt to pick up lapsed conversations.

The original purpose of email was as a better, faster way of getting messages across, improved communication — SnailMail 2.0. By the latter part of 2014, technology has out-evolved the purpose of email, but for most of us, email is ingrained as the de facto method of electronic communication. The opportunity is there, but we’re going to need to change our way of thinking (and working) to catch up with better ways of communicating in the modern world. We’re still in the email as mail mindset.

I rarely check my physical mail as it comes through the door. All my bills are set up online, so anything that isn’t junk mail usually isn’t worth noticing. I can’t remember the last time I received a hand written letter, save the odd birthday card (although these are dwindling in favour of Facebook messages — Happy Birthday! Hope you have a great one!). Occasionally that means Inland Revenue reminders, motor insurance certificates and other things end up in the recycling box. It’s only a matter of weeks ago that on dropping an empty wine bottle into the plastic box by the gate, I noticed the car’s V5 ownership document nestled amongst the leaflets and flyers.

I’m not hugely worried about missing the post. The only niggling concern is that there will be a day when a lost relative (of my white British-Irish family) in Nigeria finally writes to me to request my bank details for the £5m I’m owed by inheritance from our mutual relative, but I’ll take that chance. Oh, actually, it seems he’s just emailed me…

We moved to email as a relief from snail mail. We now need to move to other forms of communication for relief from email.

Rethinking how we’re productive, the methods of communication we use and how we store information are all part of it. There are amazing productivity applications emerging that can manage communication and information sharing around pieces of work — I’m currently testing an early version of Uskape which I can already see has the potential to change my life and form part of the jigsaw that offers me a final move away from email. For social communication we have instant messaging, social networks, photo and file sharing applications. There’s just no reason to rely on email today.

Apart from the fact, it’s the only universal method of communication. Every email address can talk to every other. That’s the last bastion of email’s usefulness (it’s also one of its major downfalls that allows spam) and something the other emerging platforms need to address. Facebook can’t message a LinkedIn profile. Phones call phones, everywhere. A Skype account can’t call Facetime.

But we’re close enough to make shunning email possible. If we all start to do it, communication will evolve to account for that. I used to work for the NHS and shared an office with a genuinely lovely lady named Fiona. She took her job very seriously, but was swamped by email every day. One morning she walked up the corridor to make a cup of tea. On arriving back at her desk, she burst into tears. Having arrived at 7am purely to catch up with emails, as she did every day, over 120 were now sitting in her inbox.

That was ten years ago and email traffic has only worsened.

If we could cut out the unnecessary emails, our inboxes would be emptier, easier to manage. The pressure to communicate would reduce and the noise of useless, sometimes malicious, information would dissipate. We’d also be less likely to miss important information. It’s a cleaner, clearer, less muddled and far more attractive future that I, for one, buy into.

Sure, marketing will change. But we can subscribe to YouTube channels and follow Facebook pages, connect on Twitter — there are better places for content to be hosted and conversations framed, instead of dropping into our inboxes to be ignored and deleted after pretty html images are not downloaded. The thing is, if email disappeared tomorrow, I don’t think we’d be any worse off, we’d be compelled to find a way to make it work and we’d actually have better ways to communicate that reduce stress and increase productivity.

I’ve been privileged to be guest blogging about The Work Project for Claire Burge. Claire and her team at Get Organised are waging a war on email and although I missed Claire speak on the topic at Silicon Beach 2014 due to a school run commitment, I’m now 100% on board with the idea.

Just thinking about email makes me cross.

Here’s my declaration:

As of January 1st 2015, I will attempt to stop using email. I’ll put an auto-respond on every email account I have and not check emails except in exceptional circumstances. I will only use non-email forms of communication unless it’s completely unavoidable.

email3

That’s my personal email account at 10:34 am…

Looking at what I’ve done in the last few weeks, I guess there are probably around 10 instances a year that email has been absolutely necessary, but I’m sure I can get that down with some lateral thinking.

Sure, most people still rely on email and some organisations are only just starting to use it instead of paper communication, but for my own sanity and productivity I’m taking a stand. Change has to start somewhere. I fully expect that by the end of the 2015, I will be completely email free.

Join me?

By Andy Swann on November 27, 2014.
Exported from Medium on July 15, 2016.