I don’t save very many emails. Yea, I hate email. But that’s not why I delete them. It has more to do with the fact that I don’t feel the need to keep them. I don’t remember the last time that I actually had to go back and review that needle-in-a-hay-stack holy grail email that was going to save the project…
Email is a great way to not do much work and cover your ass at the same time.
Of course that’s not the prevailing mentality though. We:
- CC (“just doing my job”)
- BCC (“just so you know I’m doing my job”)
- Forward (“tha’ hell? or "Maybe you should take care of this”),
- Reply-all (“just so everyone knows I’m doing my job”)
...file, organize-within-an-inch-of-their-lives and generally store these zippy little messages around just incase we might need them to prove a point.
Then there's the "efficiency" argument. We think it’s more efficient to blast out emails. It's a solo effort, and it's off your plate - fast. There's none of that shitty collaboration or annoying disagreement that comes along with an actual conversation.
Turns out - that short-cut is actually much much slower. Sure it took five minutes to write it up and send it out… but now there’s a chain. People respond and disagree, agree with changes, multiple side conversations start up, incorrect interpretations are made, etc. By the time you get everyone together in person to clarify the whole thing is a mess. Not to mention the team is all up-in-arms - so you’ve got to chill them out. After all that, then you can get back on track.
The "long way"... you know building relationships, getting true clarity, develop a team dynamic, understanding body language etc. is not only faster, but there's so much more benefit.
I think email is a whole-lotta’ busy work. I think we hide behind email as a way to avoid confrontation, discussion and conflict. When we go through our inboxes we feel like we’re being productive - that we’ve done something important. And that’s too bad.
I just believe that there’s a better way. Build trust and you won’t need to hoard email. Talk to people (with your faces) and you’ll build clarity. Be proactive and email won’t dictate your day, so you can actually get stuff done.
When you spend less time trying to "save time", you’ll have all the time in the world to do more of what matters.