I'm balancing filling in for Jon Gordon on Future Tense with the crushing burden and awesome responsibility of News Cut this week.
For tomorrow's (Wednesday) show, I interviewed a professor at Minnesota State University Moorhead, who has developed a system that my makes my cubicle neighbors weep, but appears to put a glint in the eyes of the bosses.
While you're reading this entry, the chances are pretty good that you'll get some e-mail. You'll stop what you're doing and read it, and it probably won't be all that important. That's the problem. Every time you get some e-mail, you drop what you're doing to read it.
Ashish Gupta, an operations management professor at Minnesota State University Moorhead, along with his colleague Ramesh Sharda at Oklahoma State University, has developed a computer model -- called SIMONE -- that allows your organization to release e-mail to you in batches, and you wouldn't miss the important ones -- the ones that are important for you to do your job.
It can be configured to allow messages from your boss to zip through. Through the use of keywords, other important e-mail can get through. But the e-mail that isn't critical to your job, wastes up to 30 minutes of your time each day, compared to a structured four-times-a-day release of e-mail to you, according to Gupta.
Some of this you can already test. Just set your e-mail client to check for new mail every two or three hours instead of shooting it to you instantly. But would you want that? Do you hang on every e-mail? Does it interrupt your day and if it does, how much of it has anything to do with your work?
Here's an extended interview with Professor Gupta. Listen
Sad. The same people who hang on every e-mail are the same ones who feel that they have to answer their phone just because it rings, even if they're in a face-to-face conversation with a co-worker at the time (hint to the technologically impaired and those clueless about good manners: that's what caller ID and voice mail are for.)
Unless you are in a biz that it is totally deadline-driven, or are the POTUS, I would contend that few if any e-mails are so vital that a person needs to check e-mail status more than once every hour or two.
We don't have a lot of control over our lives as it is; why be a slave to the machines? Doesn't Pavlov's Bell (pardon the pun) ring a bell?
"It can be configured to allow messages from your boss to zip through. "
But I thought it was supposed to let the important ones through!
when does this show air? All I've ever heard are 20 second shorts in the morning?
Future Tense? 8:20. But the local version is only 4 mins long. The "national" version (it goes inside As it Happens at night) is 5.
"The same people who hang on every e-mail are the same ones who feel that they have to answer their phone just because it rings, even if they're in a face-to-face conversation with a co-worker at the time"
Not true. I check email like a rat trying to trigger the next treat, but ignore distractions like phone, IM & email when otherwise engaged in direct communication with someone.
"Unless you are in a biz that it is totally deadline-driven, or are the POTUS, I would contend that few if any e-mails are so vital that a person needs to check e-mail status more than once every hour or two."
That's another stereotype based on your experience which may or may not reflect reality elsewhere. In my place of work, response time to customer inquiries is important. People that send email, rightly or wrongly, often have an expectation of instant feedback or response. It certainly wouldn't be the end of the world if we only checked for such email every 2 or 3 hours, but if we can serve our customers better by being available on shorter notice, why would we put it off?
I read somthing a while back on jumpthecurve.net about the amount of time wasted checking emails, I used to have mine set to check every 5 minutes. I switched to every 30 minutes and have never looked back.
Like some have noted I work with clients that expect a timely response, so 2-3 would be bad. If they can't wait 1/2 hour, they should call.
When i have time i click send/recieve and check, but I press that only 1-2 times per day, unless I am waiting for an email. I bet I save 20-30 minutes everyday, at least. Now if I can just stop reading blogs....
oops the article was on unlearning 101, but you should check it out.
In my workplace, email is the communication method of choice. I've heard others say it's horrible to manage by Inbox, but that's exactly what I do. Because my clients and peers are used to this, the number of telephone calls and IMs has dwindled down to almost zero, which has dramatically reduced those "interruptions". The email trail has also saved me on more than one occasion, making it my preference on that front as well.
If only I could get off numerous vendor and manufacturer email distribution lists, I'd be even more productive!