I just finished my email hour for the morning, and it was especially productive today. So I’m feeling like a time-management genius, and extending that enthusiasm into a new blog entry. Those who know me would laugh at this, because I’m anything but a time management genius, but I’m on the road to getting better and batch-processing my email is a major part of that.
When sitting at my desk, I used to be notified three different ways when a new email arrived: BlackBerry vibrating, system tray pop-up, and chime. And that’s just work email. Add personal email, work phone calls, personal phone calls, and social media and it’s easy to estimate 15+ interruptions per hour if I’m sitting at my desk. Not cool.
A couple of interesting, thought-provoking events hit me today. Individually, they would have gone unnoticed. Together, they were more powerful.
- I read an article about the death of email.
- I asked a job candidate to give me his resume in 160 characters.
First, the death of email. Everyone must have read thirty articles on this topic already, and I don’t feel like beating a dead horse today. But the shortened, usual argument goes like this: Though we use “technology” to send/receive email, long-form written communication is an antiquated notion required only in fewer and fewer situations. Email took type-written memos, put them on your screen, and let you send them back and forth to one or many users.
Further, due to a variety of reasons including our (collective) increasingly short attention span, commonly accepted web copy guidelines, and the volume of messages we all have to read these days, nobody really reads entire emails any more. Certainly not if they’re longer than a paragraph.
This will become increasingly obvious once generations Y and Z start impacting serious change. The Pew Research Center found that email was 11th on the list of activities done on teenagers’ phones. Some activities performed more often:
- Taking pictures
- Recording video
- Playing games
- Playing music
This doesn’t surprise me too much. But remember — this group only uses phones for communication. They don’t sit at their desk all night emailing their friends. Email was a dramatic shift in what we use to communicate, but not how we communicate. But what comes next? Will we communicate in 160 character thoughts?