How much email do you receive?

I decided to count how many emails I received today: 165.  My email volume has been increasing.  I don’t know if that is related to my changing responsibilities or a continued cultural shift toward email as the communication vehicle of choice.  Conversely, I get very few phone calls and voice mails.  Of course, I am generally in meeting most of the day, so folks may realize that is a long shot.

I love email.  But is often a bad way to communicate.  If somebody has something to say that is referential (like instructions on how to do something) that is better done as a post to an Intranet page or similar knowledge sharing tool.  The burden should not be placed on me (the recipient) to store, organize, retieve and purge such communications.  This is inherently rude (asking me to do your job for you).  What’s worse, it is wasteful.  Don’t ask hundreds of people to handle these publishing tasks for you when you can do it once for everyone.

I would love to hear your email rants in comments.

6 thoughts on “How much email do you receive?

  1. Java and the Adobe PDF are revolutionizing our communications channels and wireless plus bluetooth are not far behind. So when I receive emails that require more than two clicks once opened I usually delete them as being obtrusive even when there may be some interesting info beyond those first two clicks. I’m tempted to send a reply about them but my time is too valuable. My motto “Over 2 I’m thru!”

  2. After reading your post, I looked over my Inbox and receive about 50-60 emails a day.

    50% of these could have been eliminated if I had not been CC’d and another 25% could have been eliminated if file attachments were placed on a network drive or uploaded to a documentation library.

    Plus, since I’m an application developer, should my time be spent writing code instead of writing emails?

    Stop CC me please. If I cared, I would ask!


  3. I have a very different perspective.

    The asynchronous nature of email provides near instantaneous but not mandatory contact.

    I love email. It *allows* me to separate, sort and navigate conversations in context.

  4. First of all, I would run away screaming if I ever got 165 emails. I had no idea it was that bad. I wonder if other top executives and managers are in the same boat. A lot of the information contained in the emails, as you described, is ideal for the corporate wiki. Even though most wikis can also serve as document vaults, too, the ideal medium for this content should be dynamic and not static. The information may change and the owner of the information may change, and that is all nicely captured in the wiki. I am working on a few wiki projects that will ameliorate this problem. I have often read that a benefit of wikis is that they decrease email. This is something that most IT departments can measure, so it will be interesting to see hard data on this in the future.

  5. Interesting question. John Halamka (CIO Harvard Medical School, BIDH), according to his blog:

    receives nearly 600 email a day ! All of which he says are legitimate. John also responds to all of his emails the same day. Certainly, with the few emails that I have exchanged with John, he always got back to me the same day. He describes in his blog the rules he uses to go through all his emails.
    Mark Singh MD

  6. To Brian, as a developer you should love cc’d email. My group would use it all the time to make sure everyone was filled in on what the others were doing, without having to intrude on everyones time by having team meetings. We all gladly traded eyeballing 70 emails a day on our own terms for team meetings. It also seemed to be more productive, in that in email you can go more in depth than you would in a team meeting because in the meeting you would feel you were boring most of the people.

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