Email Productivity
How to be more efficient in written communications

We are overwhelmed by amounts and vulnerabilities
(From E-mail at the workplace)

In the past few years, managing e-mails has become one of the most important sources of stress in the workplace. On the one hand, there is the corporate management of the technical resources involved in the system's functioning, and almost nobody knows how much these effort cost, but when e-mail or the Internet connection fails, almost everybody goes into a crisis.

On the other hand, there is the individual management of e-mail as a tool and a communication medium, which is the main focus of this book because it is the area where our effectiveness in communication and our productivity is noticed in a more concrete manner.

Every year the number of e-mails we must manage per day increases dramatically, and is becoming a growing headache that is compounded by the risks and consequences of "spam", viruses and hackers. The excessive number of trash and illegal mails is a serious worldwide situation, comparable to environmental pollution, traffic, the management of wastes in cities, or global warming.

After monitoring more than 100 million messages, in its August 2006 report, Ipswitch stated that more than 70% of e-mails were spam. Only a year after, it reported that spam represented 90% of the messages in the web. Similar data on the percentage of spam have also been presented by other organizations that, like Ipswitch, specialize in developing and servicing security systems, allowing them to follow-up and analyze huge amounts of e-mails.

There is also research carried out by companies like McAfee, or Marshal, just to mention a few, and a report issued by Symantec, of September 2006 on Internet security threats. This company has a worldwide network of 120 million surfers in 180 countries, who use their products and from whom they obtain information for their research. 

The stress produced by the number of e-mails and the security risks associated to this medium, is part of a larger phenomenon of information and communication overload, with serious negative consequences on the productivity of work teams. The actors in this drama are: multiple phone calls (at the office, on the cell), text messages, the Blackberry, chats, and Skype calls.

An active part of this list is the information we must also process (in companies of all types and sizes) and is part of our daily work: Reports, investigations, manuals, courses, books, magazines, newspapers, etc.

In an article called Infoclutter, published in Forbes.com, marketing guru Jack Trout said that today a business manager in the USA should read around a million words per week. This amount of information is equivalent to contained in 5 reams of letter size paper, or 4 books the size of Harry Potter.

Without considering the possibility of analyzing this volume of information, what we must always keep in mind is the money that is lost in companies because of this sort of syndrome.

In 2007, Basex, with 22 years of experience in research and analysis of corporate and business environments, published a report called "Information overload: We have met the enemy and he is us". In this report, they state that work interruptions in American companies cost $650 billion a year thanks to situations like the following ones:

Workers are interrupted up to 11 times per hour.

An average manager is interrupted between six and seven times per hour.

Distractions can take up to 30% of the work time.

It may take between 5 and 15 minutes to regain concentration after an interruption.

Are companies aware of these costs? I don't know, but I think that we must think about what psychologist and philosopher William James said 100 years before all this information loading began: "The art of wisdom is the art of knowing what to leave aside".

(Fragment from E-mail at the workplace by Juan Carlos Jimenez. See it at Google Books).

Are we aware of how we use e-mail at workplace?


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We are overwhelmed by amounts and vulnerabilities



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