I Love Email

Updated on Sunday, May 2, 2021


Everyone is always trying to kill email, and it's always because it's a supposed productivity villain and life will be so much easier when we can all live happily in some chat based universe. I've spent enough time in Slack and Teams and their predecessors to know that we should go back before it's too late.

Chat brings you infinite inboxes and no great way to tell which of them is important. Having looked away for a few minutes there are dozens of unread conversations. Some of them are people sharing a photo of their cat. One of them is an emergency requiring immediate attention but good luck finding it without wading through everything.

This brings me to a lack of useful state. I handle email in two quick passes - read everything (and discard anything that doesn't need further attention), deal with anything critical and then at some point go back and mop up the rest. In chat though you just blew past something that needs a response eventually and it fades from your mind as you fight the fire elsewhere. I never miss an email, I often miss a chat.

And good luck finding anything. Maybe a market leader or two will establish dominance for long enough but my experience so far has been lurching from one platform to the next, both professionally and personally, and having a hard time finding that one thing I know should be in there from the end of last year. My Gmail has emails going back to 1996, and yes that's almost a decade before Gmail existed. I can find anything.

On the subject of dominance, the real reason for all of the attempted email homicide is that it's one of the last open systems that everyone still uses. If only email would just die you'll be trapped forever in Messenger and Hangouts.

[email protected]

Out of Office Hours

Updated on Sunday, May 2, 2021


Inc has an article based on this blog suggesting that the solution to 'zoom fatigue' is reverse meetings.

I imagined that this was going to be a S03E01 of Red Dwarf type scenario where you get handed some notes and a few action items and then apologize for leaving early. But no, it's office hours.

""In a reverse meeting scenario, by contrast, I might take only 10 minutes from each colleague, taking up 50 minutes total of my time, and 50 minutes total of their time, for an overall demand of 100 minutes of attention, which is 3.6 times less cost," Newport writes. And voilà, he's just given your team back more than four hours of productive time a week."

Assuming that people manage to show up in perfect slots with no conflict and do so in a way that has perfect utilization for the victim and that there is no value in having someone point out that one of those 10 minute slots was full of incorrect information sending you down a two week rabbit hole that could have easily been avoided by having the right people spend some time together.

In a perfect world my ideal meeting situation is the meeting defragmenter. This involves software and cooperation unfortunately so the next best solution is out of office hours. I need focused time to get stuff done and blocking large chunks of meeting repelling time is really the only thing that works.