Five ways email is killing you. What did they used to do at work?

mouse kill
photo credit: Polandeze

I was inspired by Michael over at Box of Crayons blog in his post 5 ways email is killing you. He found a terrific article from PsyBlog. They’ve written a compelling article that sets out the ways in which email lessens our impact in the world, rather than supports it.

The original article actually sets out ten reasons – you can pick the reasons that resonate most for you.

Michael’s pick – #1, #2, #3, #4 and #6.
My pick – #2, #3, #4, #7 and #9

My maternal grandfather “Grandpa Ted” was a country bank manager in the Bank of Ireland in the 1940s through the 60s.  I often wonder what he could have done during the day.  No telephone.  No computer.  No email.  That is 80% of my concept of “work” today.

My friend Jolmer, co-founder of investment firm Triple Partners once told a story about asking his father “what did you do at work before email?”.

What did you do at work before email?

His father’s response was “Read the newspapers and company updates. Think about the implications.  Meet colleagues for lunch.  Discuss. More thinking.  Dictate a memo. Go home.”

Imagine all the patterns he might see in the world that are invisible to somebody who’s day looks like “Wake. Check email on blackberry. Shower. Check blackberry over breakfast.  Have a coffee.  Drive (sending 1 email while waiting at traffic lights).  Arrive at work.  Say hi to receptionist.  Turn on computer.  Check email.  Lose track of time.  Colleague says “lunch?” “No. have to finish something.”  Rush out to buy a sandwich to eat at desk. Check blackberry while in queue to buy sandwich.  Return to desk.  Open word to write a proposal.  Eat sandwich.  Start writing.  Remember a to-do that requires an email to be sent.  Switch to email.  Send email.  See that 11 new emails have arrived. Attempt to resist temptation to read them.  Fail.  Read them.  Enter time warp until dark outside.  Head home.  Check email on blackberry.  Work on laptop at home because proposal didn’t get finished while actually at work….  Dream of blackberries…  then a chilling nightmare – you are sitting on a toilet and not having a paper to read or a blackberry to check and actually have to spend 3 minutes listening to the noise inside your own head!!!”

And we call email a “productive technology”.

Productive Technology?

How about you?  Would love your comments.  Do you agree with Michael’s top 5 or mine?  What is the most outrageous email checking activity that you have ever seen?  People walking across busy streets while totally focussed on a blackberry keyboard?  Will the iPad make this situation worse?

2 responses to “Five ways email is killing you. What did they used to do at work?”

  1. Great post ! Thank you for sharing!

    1. 😉 happy Christmas!

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