Stop using email in 2015

Time wasted dealing with email is on my new year's resolution radar. New tools are out there that can help solve the “email problem.”

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Credit: Thinkstock

That got your attention, right? Stop using email. Sounds about as likely as quitting eating food in order to lose weight, or even something as ridiculous as stopping drinking.

Well, some in the enterprise world are indeed flirting with the concept.

We’ve known for years that email is chaotic for managing projects. The idea that projects should be run on a non-prioritized trickle of un-categorized messages appearing chronologically on-screen during the course of the day, rather than project-wise, is bizarre in itself.

Add to that the fact that the messages sometimes include re-iterations of previous messages, unfiltered hot air, arbitrary cc’ing and forwarding, and a confusing lack of attached-file version management, and the tool is clunky solution oftentimes.

Yet most of us still use it, even though alternatives are available.

Zero e mail

Zero email initiatives are catching on. In 2011, IT services provider Atos tried to give up email and set itself a goal of eliminating internal email by the end of 2013. It managed an impressive 60% reduction in volume, according to Jessica Twentyman of the Financial Times newspaper, who wrote about the experiment recently.

Atos moved over to social networking—and in fact conveniently own a social networking site called blueKiwi, where 74,000 staff currently create 300,000 posts a month.

Holiday mode

Daimler, the German auto-maker, along with Volkswagen and Deutsche Telekom, have all adopted the concept of “holiday mail.” This email management technique simply destroys emails from senders who send email when it’s not wanted.

The sender is given an opportunity to contact an alternative person, and then the email is deleted automatically. The result is an empty email box on return from vacation, or from days off, according to Yvonne Roberts, who has been writing about the innovative system for the Observer newspaper.

Not giving up

You don’t have to give up. Claire Burge of Get Organized Ireland reckons you need to figure out the kind of email you are getting in order to develop better ways to triage it. Task related email – that which requires an action on the part of the recipient – should be handled by task management software, she said in an interview with Fast Company. Task management software provides commenting, due dates, and prioritizing functionality.

Burge says you should use social media platforms, like Twitter, for push notification-type email substitution, or email that doesn’t require action from you.

Collaborative email, like brainstorming and “discussing ideas before they’re ready to implement,” should go the project management route, she told Vozza.

In all cases, Burge thinks you need to tell your correspondents you’re taking on this email-free mission. An auto-responder would work, she says.

Tools to try

Burge uses Huddle, Teamwork, Basecamp, and Asana.

Other tools to try that I think show promise include Glip with synced file collaboration, along with screen-sharing video chat and the company-specific chat app with powerful search from Slack.

So, if you don’t get a response to email you send me in 2015, don’t take it personally. I’m on an email detox.

Now, I wonder what time my postal carrier stops by? I’m already feeling the surge of a productivity-fueled new year. I wonder if I should go and wait for him?

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