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Stepwise Success

I Didn’t Get Your Email

Published January 23, 2013 6:19 AM by Scott Warner

For managers, email is either a lifeline or bane. Sometimes, it’s both. I imagine it’s even more irritating for staff without a dedicated office space to handle email. Whatever the setting, there are only so many emails we can take. According to a Harris Interactive poll reported by ABC News, it’s 50 a day.

Smartphones make it worse per the same poll. 37 percent of phone toters claim email overload, three times the rest. So much for technology making that part of our lives easier.

One solution is to stop reading email.

I’m not suggesting that we stop reading and responding to it altogether but do so selectively and on our time. There’s nothing magical about email technology that says we have to respond instantly to every flashing message; it isn’t a chat room. Users are frequently spoiled, like gamblers, to expect that immediate gratification of a quick response. But like gambling, that’s luck.

There are two easy ways to limit exposure to email and still use it as a productive tool:

Log in selectively - choose a time to log into your email to check messages, just as you would sort snail mail. Use rules - email clients including Outlook let you build “rules” to filter and redirect incoming messages.

Martin Gardner, a popular mathematician who wrote for Scientific American, described in his column a computer program he called “Marcus B. Chaney” that responded intelligently to emails using rules generated by statistical probability of words used by senders. Hm...

For now I redirect all emails where I am “CC’d” to a separate folder. It’s true that I might not read it at all for a day or so, but that’s Ok. I often find that I don’t need to read it, anyway, and I’m included in the loop to appease the communication gods. Similar rules can be written for content and users.

This leads to weird conversations in hallways where a person might start where his email to everyone left off. “Sorry,” I have to say, “I didn’t get your email.” I can always read it later.

NEXT: Dreading Evaluations

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About this Blog


    Scott Warner, MLT(ASCP)
    Occupation: Laboratory Manager
    Setting: Critical Access Hospital
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