I Freed Myself From E-Mail’s Grip
By LUIS SUAREZ
EARLIER this year, I became tired of my usual morning ritual of spending hours catching up on e-mail. So I did something drastic to take back control of my productivity.
I stopped using e-mail most of the time. I quickly realized that the more messages you answer, the more messages you generate in return. It becomes a vicious cycle. By trying hard to stop the cycle, I cut the number of e-mails that I receive by 80 percent in a single week.
It’s not that I stopped communicating; I just communicated in different and more productive ways. Instead of responding individually to messages that arrived in my in-box, I started to use more social networking tools, like instant messaging, blogs and wikis, among many others. I also started to use the telephone much more than I did before, which has the added advantage of being a more personal form of interaction.
I never gave up my work e-mail address, because I still need it for some work-related activities — for example, for one-on-one discussions that are too private and confidential to discuss publicly.
I was in a good position to give up most of my other e-mail because I’m a “social computing evangelist” for I.B.M. and have used social software tools for years to collaborate on projects and to share knowledge. I live in the Canary Islands off the coast of Spain and report to managers in the United States and the Netherlands. Between time differences and participation in various projects, it’s important that I spend my time efficiently.