Hawaiʻi's Technology Community

When hotmail first became available to everyone back in 1996, it was something cool to have. Having a hotmail account is like having the first portable mobile phone. Most of us in those days felt like we do now in the electronic age. A daily check in my inbox is akin to a daily routine check of the post office mailbox. One felt the need or to some extent felt the importance of receiving an email from a friend, family or business associate.

12 years later and after creating several accounts from MSN, Yahoo and Gmail , our perception was, the more new accounts we created, the more organized we become. In fact, receiving this much emails can be quite a chore. I have friends that receive in excess of 800 emails a day. That's about 100 new emails an hour, not counting spams. Are we now trapped in a cyber state having to delete all these spams and respond to these messages?

A recent article stated that email still remains an important part of or daily life and also an important management tool, but adds that it can hinder leadership and effective communication.

“Instead of meeting face-to-face, a manager dashes off an email to his troops thinking he is being efficient. He uses it for everything from feedback to training.”

The article says it is appropriate to use email to confirm matters (for example, confirming a meeting or highlighting points previously discussed); to inform people (meeting notifications or key information from a boss or client); or to acknowledge (acknowledging information received).

“[However] the key is to not use email when interaction between two or more people needs to take place.”

The article says one sure-fire way to know something should be said face-to-face instead of by email is when the email takes more than a few sentences to write.

“If that’s the case, erase your message and reply with a ‘Let’s talk’ instead and schedule a meeting. Or get up and go to the other person’s office.”

If you are one of these managers, I believe that you need to take a few steps back and analyze how you can use email to enhance productivity. Email is important but it clearly has its role in our daily lives. As they said, everything we do has its special function. It is how we make use of these tools to help us have a better day at work or at home without missing a deadline.¬

By Arthur Lo - Creator

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Email overload is definitely a problem. I know many CEOs that have such high email volume they need to employ a full time assistant to filter and prioritize their messages for them. These assistants can't be random people off the street or minimum wage interns. They have to prioritize based on their knowledge of the company's partners, deals, the CEO's personal connections, etc. Its not an easy task.

There are a lot of people trying to solve this problem with technology, but I haven't yet seen any truly viable solutions.
When it comes down to email or face-to-face, it really depends on what AND who it's going to. Sometimes face-to-face is near impossible in the time frames that we need to exist in nowadays... Especially with more work-at-home and mobile workers out there (as I'm sure many in TechHui are).

I also know many in Daniel's CEO type (many), but is that really different than a personal assistant that would be fielding calls and visits? It's just faster and so much more (less effort and barriers than picking up the phone).

I think that the larger issue is that you don't get the feedback through email that you get in person or even on the phone. This leads to people making assumptions on "tone" of the email that can cause problems (which usually leads to a meeting).

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