Email Is Not Broken; We Are

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Here’s an interesting perspective on the ‘problem’ of email…

There’s a constant flow of “email is/is not broken” articles across the internet, but most of them miss the point. Email as a system is not broken, but we, through our email behaviors, are.

Nearly all of the articles written recently about fixing email have concentrated on technology and building a better client or implementing the specs more closely or bringing two systems together. These are all great ideas and have a ton of value, but they will not fix the inherent issue that people are experiencing with email, but which most articles fail to articulate: we think email is broken because we are overwhelmed by it and get less real work done because of it.

So instead of asking how we can make email better/faster/cooler, we need to ask ourselves how we can get more work done while still using email. Unfortunately, many experiences have shown over the past decade or so that this problem is not easily solved by new technology, as much as I would love that. It is solved by teaching people better email behaviors. This is certainly a less sexy solution, but guess what? It’s the attainable one. Here are some ideas that I’ve come across from others, and that warrant further investigation. They are all designed to help us get more real work done, which is the real problem with the email timesink.

Source: Email Is Not Broken; We Are

You can go to the source and read the author’s perspective, but while you’re here consider this: I think email is ‘broken’ because we let the wrong things in to begin with — in other words, we have no one to blame but ourselves. Most peoples’ inboxes are like their kitchen junk drawers – how can they expect to find anything of value in there? Instead, try using email only for ‘just in case’ information – information that affects relationships and revenue and all that goes along with it – and use an rss reader like Google Reader for all the ‘just in case’ info. That philosophy alone will make your email infinitely more manageable! As you get more efficient, you can add David Allen’s ‘Getting Things Done‘ principles to your approach…

If you’re looking for more ideas like this, check out my free ebook on ‘personal news aggregation’. Go to and click the register button. You might also be interested in this recent post I did on effectively consuming information

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