As a knowledge worker, we must take personal responsibility for the tools and methods we use to share information with those we work with. Living in a Web 2.0 world, those options are growing daily. yet many people fall back to the tried and true email -- much to the chagrin of the social software vendors. Email is neither good or bad. It just is. In some circumstances it may be the most effective tool for a conversation. In others, not. I think the key is not to say that email is good or bad for something, but rather to identify operating principles that will encourage you develop excellent habits for how you communicate and share what you know.

Luis Suarez does just this as he shares three different principles he works at when whenever he processes his email, which he says he has down to about 10 minutes per day...
  • Stop sending emails yourself
  • Stop replying to emails
  • Refuse to engage through email
I think these are three excellent behaviors to master, whether you get 10 emails a day or 200. At the same time, these principles will help you encourage others to communicate with you in the most efficient way possible.

Here is some more detail on what Luis has to say about each (there's a link to the full post at the end of this post):
  • Stop sending emails yourself: This is probably the toughest thing to do; I know how very tempting it can well be to have that poignant question you know has got an easy answer within a matter of seconds by sending an email to this or that other colleague. Bang! Answer is there! Well, stop! Don’t send it just yet! Think! Think about other ways you could make use of to get that answer; whether you could make use of social software tools, or a quick Instant Message, or a phone call or just find the answer online, don’t just hit Send right away...
  • Stop replying to emails: Yes, just as tempting as sending an email yourself, so is replying to people’s emails. You know the drill; you get that lovely email from one of your colleagues with an interesting tidbit of information you could rather respond to or add further on, and, what do you do right away? Indeed, you hit reply! Don’t! Just like I mentioned above: Think!, before you send out that reply. There may be better ways of getting back to that colleague than through email…
  • Refuse to engage through email: At all costs, if people keep insisting on sending you email after email, and you know there are better collaboration and knowledge sharing tools out there, keep pushing them away into those social tools; show them the way; spend some time with them showing how much you are benefiting from using these other tools so that they would want to try them out themselves. Move email conversations away from your Inbox and into social spaces...
Email is neither good or bad - it just is. It's one of many communications tools that most of us have at available to us and, because we've had it the longest, it's easy to slip into the trop of using email out of habit when another tool may be more efficient.

Read more:
A World Without Email – Year 3, Weeks 1 to 8 (On Email Sanity by Zen Habits)

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