Email Overload: Are you Affected?

Over the coming weeks we will be blogging a series on email and information overload. As part of this series, we will be running some quizzes, and also posting some challenges.

We are very interested in hearing from you on the following questions. Send your responses to david.sengupta@ferris.com (if you wish to remain anonymous) or leave a comment at the foot of this post:

  1. Do constant interruptions at work (email, IM, phone, etc.) cause you to feel ADD-like symptoms, often referred to as Attention Deficit Trait (ADT)?
  2. Do people in your company constantly read email during meetings?
  3. Do your colleagues constantly read their BlackBerries or Windows Mobile devices?
  4. How much time (hours) do you spend reading email every day?
  5. What percentage of time spent on email is "wasted" that you could have been productive?
  6. Does reading work email at home cause stress on your family/personal life?
  7. If someone emails you a question during working hours, how many hours can go by before you are expected to respond?
  8. Compared to 12 months ago, do you work more hours triaging email or less? How many more/less hours per week?
  9. If you carry a mobile email device, could you turn it off and leave it on your desk at work without looking at it for 24 hours?
  10. What strategies do you use to cope with "information overload"?

Stay tuned. And join in the discussion. We will expand on various "coping strategies" and will challenge you to take some "challenges" with us.

Challenge #1: If you carry a BlackBerry or Windows Mobile device, turn it off (yes, now), put it down on your desk but within sight of where you sit during the daytime, and spend the rest of your workday without touching the device. (Betcha can't.)

Once you've tried this, feel free to leave a comment with your experiences.

... David Sengupta

One Comment

  1. Posted July 17, 2008 at 9:49 PM | Permalink

    1. I would definitely feel I feel some ADD. One thing I find funny is that I constantly clutch my Blackberry in my pocket even when I’m not looking at it. I guess it’s comforting? 🙂
    2. Since I run the company 🙂 I try to prevent this but in general this happens way too much in meetings in many companies. I’ve thought about having a “Blackberry Basket” at the end of the room where people drop their BBs before the meeting and pick them up after the meeting.
    3. Yes
    4. Too much. 🙂
    5. For me, the concept that it’s “wasted” is misguided in that what’s really happening is in companies, a priority for one person isn’t a priority for another. Is it wasted? Not clear. Depends who’s priority is right. 🙂 I would say though that constantly checking email and being interrupted creates “waste” simply in the context switches. More of my thoughts on this at: https://blog.liveoffice.com/blog/bid/4601/In-defense-of-email
    6. It did but I’ve had some good learnings here (see below).
    7. I try to tell my team to get back to every email within 24 hours even if just to say “I got this.” I think if you expect a quicker response than that, call the person’s cell.
    8. Less since I went from a company with 17K employees to one with 105 🙂
    9. That would be tough. 🙂
    10. One that might be useful for us to preserve our lives. When you want to spend time with someone (e.g., wife, child, etc.) put away the Blackberry. Don’t keep it in your pocket. Turn off the buzzer. You can leave the ringer on for calls (if it’s important, they’ll call you). Also, try to do this for 24-48 hours straight on the weekend. I’ve found that you don’t truly relax until not having looked at email for 12 hours or so. So if I disconnect Friday night, I’m really relaxed by Saturday afternoon. I think there’s a huge mental difference between being 10% connected (e.g., just checking every now and then) and being 0% connected.

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