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Why Email isn’t Broken, We Just Need Something New

Why Email isn’t Broken, We Just Need Something New

There has been a big buzz on the web lately about the email system being broken. I think this is because people don’t use email for what it was intended–message transmission from one person to another. Today, many people also use emails for:

  • Personal to-do lists
  • Events management
  • Task management
  • File tracking
  • Marketing

I’m sure we could find dozens of other uses that people have for email, but the truth of the matter is that emails don’t provide an efficient solution to any of these points. Emails were intended to send messages. They do that extremely well. Have you ever lost an email? Have you ever had an email that has never arrived to its user? No. The only reason why you would have those issues is because you misspelled the email, forgot to CC it to the right people or it landed in the spam box. The system is amazingly reliable across all your devices and applications. You’ve been using it for YEARS–why change?

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So, what’s the problem?

144 billion emails were sent last year–per day. The problem, as mentioned above, is that people don’t use emails for just emails. The multiple uses of email have instead created situations such as employees spending 28% of their time on email instead of productive work. In addition to that, it’s usually a great source of distractions, with your aunt sending you pictures of her cat or a friend sending you a YouTube link to an epic fail video, or maybe you check it every fifteen minutes under the guise that it’s good etiquette to reply THAT promptly.

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    What can you do about it?

    Well you could:

    • Get more organized using labels and filters (but not many email providers give you that option–and mostly it’s the super-organized among us that actually take the time to do that).
    • Create different email addresses for different people, despite the fact that keeping up with them can get annoying (I know–I have more than a dozen email addresses).
    • Sign up on a bunch of different websites/services that promise to do what you normally use your email service for (Which one? And does it really change anything?).

    The core thing about email is that it’s still irreplaceable. 2.3 billion + people in the world have an email address. It’s well documented, creating it is extremely simple, and it’s free.  What else could you ask for?

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    The bottom line is that complexity causes stress, dissatisfaction and loss of productivity. But because email is so ingrained in our day-to-day existence we can’t imagine working without it. New collaboration tools have to make people feel like they can let go of traditional (yes–traditional!) Internet behavior and maximize the benefits of tools built for to-do lists, tasks, marketing, event managing and so on.

    Why use a spoon to dig a hole when you can use a shovel?

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    More by this author

    Andrea Francis

    Andrea loves being productive and getting things done. She shares practical tips to help people achieve what they want in life.

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    Last Updated on March 23, 2021

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

    One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

    The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

    You need more than time management. You need energy management

    1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

    How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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    I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

    I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

    2. Determine your “peak hours”

    Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

    Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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    My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

    In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

    Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

    3. Block those high-energy hours

    Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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    Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

    If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

    That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

    There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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    Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

    Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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