A slave to email

Hourly Average EmailsComing back from a short vacation and not checking company email for four days, brought with it an inbox with over 675 new messages.

Now, many of them were “status” messages; new video available from AP, someone flagged a comment on knoxnews, please post a story. Easily deleted and no reply necessary, but still there were over 675 in just four days and two of those were light volume weekend days.

Luis Suarez of IBM says he cut his email load “by 80 percent in a single week” by various tactics from not sending emails to using other technologies like blogs and wikis.

Suarez, social computing evangelist at the computer giant, says  “E-mail can become extinct, if not repurposed altogether, even at big companies.”

That wouldn’t work for me in my current email-focused corporate culture. We struggle to get people to use Outlook’s calendar and getting people on IM was met with unrepentant obstinance. I and my online team, however, use IM, Twitter, SMS, Facebook, blogs, and Google groups much as IBM’s Suarez does. They improve communication greatly within and without work. But, alas, they haven’t perceptibly cut email volume.

 I’m more like Daniela Barbosa, business development manager at Synaptica, who hasn’t quite found any suitable replacement and remains “your e-mail slave.”

The chart above (click on it to get a larger version) shows part of the picture, or problem. It’s a graph showing average email by hour to my desktop Outlook program. Problem is I also read, reply and delete a lot of mail in the Web-based version of Outlook. And then there’s Gmail (a couple accounts), Yahoo email, and, oh yes, Hotmail.

The chart was generated by the analytics in the Xobni Outlook add-in that has great email search and does these spiffy charts.

I may be hopelessly hooked without an email “patch,” but could you delete the email habit? And how would you do it?

Just play like Bill Russell

I’m a believer in sticking with fundamentals and keep an eye on your goals. Flavor of the day management just leads to zigzag results with up not an option. So I was particularly pleased to read what Scott Berkun, author of The Myths of Innovation, gleaned from the management  style that led the Boston Celtics to an NBA title.

I found some parallels between the Celtics, who had their own dark days and lean times, and the newspaper industry.

Berkun gives Boston General Manager Danny Ainge credit for risking it all and trusting his employees. Maybe one thing that’s wrong with newspapers is there are not enough Danny Ainges to go around.

While Berkun didn’t mention him, the management and work ethic espoused by his post reminded me of Celtic great Bill Russell, the center of the Boston dynasty in the glory years and a player renown for playing great defense and elevating the defensive play of his teammates rather than showboating dunks.

Berkun found five big themes in Boston’s success that can be translated elsewhere, like say newspapers in the midst of a double-team by a sick economy and industry-wide structural change.

His starting five:

  • Great managers hire great talent.
  • Focus on the fundamentals.
  • Reward team based behavior.
  • Trust your people.
  • Use the past as power.

Heard them before, I’m sure. But they are paritcularly appropriate, I believe, for newspaper companies.

An idea to nap on

catnappingMerlin Mann says he’s met an astonishing number of people who can’t bring themselves to take naps during the day.

He’s never met me.

I don’t need a guide and software is unnecessary. TV on, TV off; it doesn’t matter. I try not to nap when I’m driving.

But I’m glad Mann’s often evangelizing the “transformative power” of a quick nap. Makes me think I’m onto something instead of a slacker.

Wikipedia finds a difference between a power nap and a catnap. Seems to me you awake refreshed and recharged from either. Something to dream upon.

Despite feeling groggy around 2 every day, I don’t get to nap — power, cat or otherwise — at work. But there are some famous people who regularly napped. I found this list:

* Winston Churchill – said he needed his afternoon nap to cope with his responsibilities.
* Thomas Edison attributed his tremendous amount of energy to sleeping whenever he wanted to.
* John D. Rockefeller took a nap every afternoon in his office.
* Eleanor Roosevelt was known to take a nap before a speaking engagement.
* William J. Clinton retired to his private quarters every afternoon at 3:00 for a 30-minute nap.
* Connie Mack took a nap before every game.
* Gene Autry used to take an hour nap in his dressing room between performances.
* Ronald Reagan has the ultimate napping reputation even though his wife denies that he had a napping habit.

And Mann point to a great infographic on Boston.com. Based on it, I’m a lark.

And Lifehacker says “You snooze, you gain.”

Do you regularly nap?