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No email Friday is no solution at all

So what's the deal with all the "No Email Friday" talk?  One article blames email proliferation for hurting employee relations.  And here's an article I ran across today: Businesses Fight Email Monster they Helped Create.  On June 14, the New York Times ran this article: Lost in E-mail; Tech Firms Face Self Made-Beast.

Am I the only one who thinks taking an entire day off from email is going too far?  I agree that in these recent days some may stray away from the true spirit of Web 2.0, which emerged to make the internet work the way it was originally intended--to connect people with the information they want in the WAY they want it.  But just because some people abuse the tool doesn't mean you should quit using the tool; it doesn't mean the tool isn't otherwise useful.  Great email tools (such as automatic filtering in Gmail) make it easy for us to filter through the barrage of information thrown at us, but they are no substitute for our own brains' abilities to skim and filter quickly. 

Come on, surely none of us still has the "You've got mail" audibly broadcast to interrupt us with each incoming email.  Finish one thought and go to the next.  Skip the ones that can be ignored or can wait.  Deal with the urgent.  Close the program when you get a phone call.  It's common sense.  I don't need my boss to tell me to turn off my email program for an entire day just so I'll make some phone calls or visit some people in person.  I do that every day as it is.  I don't know why this makes me so hot under the collar but it really does.  Come on people!  What are your thoughts?  Email me directly or submit your response below.

6 comments (Add your own)

1. Douglas Neiner wrote:
Agreed... the problem is not e-mail, it is how people respond/handle it. Everyone needs to go pick up a book by David Allen or Sally McGhee and learn how to deal with lots of information. Now... No Work Fridays... thats something I can get behind, and plan on implementing with my business down the road. I'd love to hear your thoughts on that! (And no, I don't mean 4 - 10 hour days, I mean simply dropping an additional day, so a four day, 8 hour a day work week) Now if I could only help my addiction to RSS feeds.... :)

Tue, June 17, 2008 @ 1:27 PM

2. Andrea Decker wrote:
Yes, Douglas! I could get behind No Work Fridays too! The truth is that I already work 10 to 12 hours per day on Monday through Thursday as it is. (Blackberries and iPhones make that possible for many of us.) A No Work Friday would help save on gasoline for the commute as well as contribute to a more balanced life for me and my family (which in turn would make me even more productive on the other four days.) Let me know how it works for you and your business. If your clients are like many of mine they don't do much work done on Friday anyway so they probably wouldn't miss us if they had to wait till Monday. The one thing I bet all bosses fear with this idea is that Thursday will in turn become the "throw away" day like Friday is now for some. I wonder.

Tue, June 17, 2008 @ 4:20 PM

3. Jim Gibbs wrote:
Andrea asked me to post this for all to see... Quick story... I have a co-worker who is always looking for this document or that document in his inbox. He knows who sent him the document, but just can't ever really find it in a timely fashion. I suggest he checkout Xobni (http://www.xobni.com/) a new tool that creates a database of sorts on your local machine, but the key for my co-worker is the fact that every attachment is shown at the bottom of their Outlook add-on. Which means you only need to find one email from the person and "bang" you have your documents. I think the real issue is switching from working "hard" to working "smart". As users of technology we need to realize we have a very powerful tool at our figure tips. Learn to leverage this tool called a computer to do your bidding.

Tue, June 17, 2008 @ 8:03 PM

4. Brent Weaver wrote:
Three Responses: 1. 'No email Fridays' is like trying to stay fit by working out like crazy or not eating for only 1 day a week and expecting to look great. To be successful, it takes commitment, discipline, and sacrifice - and probably never some fix-all corporate memorandum. You need to pay attention to how your team (and you) is using email. ie. Asking how a client is doing and shooting the... should usually be done over the phone; delivering a scope or task list - email. The goal is to use the method that makes the best connection. 2. We presented a shorter work week to our team, but as our company is mostly service-based (not product-based like 37signals), it is difficult to leave the phone unmanned for a day where my clients expect help. I would rather give my team flexible and extended vacation times (that we can stagger) than an extra day off each week. 3. Work smart = Google + all their apps (its only going to get better). Work hard (and frustrated) = Sticking with MS. I have only spent about a year on Apps, but each time I go consult with a client that still uses Outlook I shudder. Disclaimer: We still use Microsoft Development & Hosting Products.

Tue, June 17, 2008 @ 10:38 PM

5. Justin wrote:
As much as I would like business operations to function a certain way, I believe our customers and competitors have a strong influence on how you have to operate to succeed and grow.

Wed, June 18, 2008 @ 9:43 AM

6. Jason Zimdars wrote:
I like the spirit of "No email Friday" whose intent seems to be in reducing distractions and interruptions. Jason Fried has spoken numerous times about the destructive nature of interruptions calling interruption 'the biggest enemy of productivity". Furthermore it has been documented that for the average worker it takes up to 25 minutes to get back on track after an interruption - and it can take even longer to get back "in the zone" where maximum productivity occurs. So I think "No email Friday" is attacking the right problem, I'm just concerned by an organization that needs to implement a company-wide policy to make this happen. I've spent a lot of time researching personal productivity and feel that at the personal level is where most of these things really need to occur. As mentioned by another commenter, David Allen's, "Getting Things Done" is a great approach to avoiding the things about our jobs that reduce or creativity and efficiency. Similarly Tim Ferriss and Merlin Mann both advocate not constantly checking your mail. I've more or less adopted the policy of checking my mail right before lunch (not first thing in the morning) and right before the end of the day. Then I quickly process the mail into tasks, answer what is immediate and close my mail. Merlin Mann has written many articles on the concept of not "living in your inbox", commonly called "Inbox: Zero". I'd recommend those who are interested, watch his presentation from the Google Talks series on the topic: http://www.43folders.com/2007/07/25/merlins-inbox-zero-talk I think we're getting close to a larger change in how people work and how one's efforts are measured. Employees will soon be measured more by how much they get done, rather than how many hours they work, how much time they spend "in the office", how quickly they respond to email, etc. Those that embrace this productivity lifestyle will always be ahead of the game. It may mean that you seen a little weird amongst the other "rats" in the race, but when don't the innovators seem weird to the laggards? Oh and for Douglas' RSS addiction might I suggest a news media blackout? Turn off the TV news, RSS readers, and newspaper reading for two weeks. It's amazing how little you'll miss. The big world-changing stories? You'll still see those when you pass the newspaper machine or hear your co-workers discussing them. Maybe you'll end up getting your news from people instead.

Wed, June 18, 2008 @ 11:27 AM

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