Great WSJ Review of a great book: A World Without Email

Reading the Book Review in the WSJ a few weeks back, I came across the title of this book, A World Without Email, and thought, “Hallelujah! Let it be so!” But I quickly changed my mind after I read the author’s description of office communication before e-mail. All of those physical memos back and forth must’ve been even more of a chore than e-mail. E-mail created a fabulously easier way to communicate both at home and at work. The trouble really is that it’s SO easy that we have too much of it now. We are overloaded.

What grabbed my attention was that the book’s author, Cal Newport, had some helpful simple solutions. I’d already incorporated some of them in my own attempt to simplify my work-life balance. So I thought I’d shared them here.

Stop scheduling via email

Using software such as Calendly to schedule meetings will avoid the soul-crushing slew of messages devoted to choosing a time. I have an online appointment scheduler now and it DOES save time. It also takes clients’ credit cards. My invoicing process is so much simpler because of it.

Create Specific Email Addresses

Mr. Newton suggests that people create nonpersonal email addresses for topics, teams or projects. He says that this removes the expectation that a particular person is going to respond, removing the sting from a delayed response. This may or may not work. I do a variation of this suggestion and it’s helpful.

For me, I simplify email flow by having multiple email addresses that pour into the same box. I’ve got a personal work one, I’ve got an Inbox that’s just for queries about potential clients and PR and then I have a Gmail account that I only use for a few topics and teams. The reason I like having multiple email addresses is that it’s all in one place and simultaneously pre-sorted for me. It’s not just ONE massive pile to sort each day. I lose emails less easily.

Go Old School

Use the phone instead of writing an email. Mr. Newton’s recommendation is to try to compose shorter emails. In doing so, you will see right away which matters deserve a phone call instead.

There are times as an introvert I want to write an email instead of calling. It prefer writing over talking. I don’t want to waste energy speaking to someone. But I’ve started pushing myself to do more phone calls. Sometimes it takes more time to write than just call. I focus on the time saving aspect of phone calls. Often I accomplish To Do items quicker with a phone call than an email, which makes me happy as a Classic. I’m always happier when I can cross something off of my list.

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