The Email Overlord

May 25th, 2007
[ Office Gossip ]

email.jpg Timothy Ferriss is getting a load of press these days for his recent book. He also has a nice preview of the book available in the form of a ChangeThis manifesto.

I haven’t read the book so I can’t comment on it directly. I do know that one of his key suggestions is to take control of email. I’m in complete agreement with him on this, however, I’ve managed to drift away from the practice in the past two years.

The basics? Close your email client. Only open it once or twice a day at explicit times.

I first began practicing what is essentially the same thing Timothy suggests back in my MKS days. I was inspired to do so after reading The Tyranny Of Email, written back in 2003.

In short, I’m working my way back towards this. The migration is less about my email habits than it is people’s expectations of my habits. Everyone’s used to me responding almost instantly so I need to work them towards a new pattern. Or technically an old pattern that I somehow abandoned.

If you’re in a rush to get back to your email, Ole has a great summary:

  1. Turn your email client off. Pick the moment at which you’ll be interrupted.
  2. Never criticize anyone in email, and avoid technical debates. Use face-to-face meetings or ‘phone calls instead.
  3. Be judicious in who you send email to, and who you copy on emails.
  4. Observing some formality is important.
  5. Don’t hesitate to review and revise important emails.
  6. Remember that email is a public and permanent record.