What Does Reading One Email Cost?

I recently acheived inbox zero in both my work and my personal email.  And then I went out of town and am having trouble maintaining it, and this week when I have class all week I’m certainly, even with the help of my trusty assistant Bob, going to have something to come back to after Labor Day.  I’m not sure what my current average is, but at one point I was averaging over 300 emails per day between all of the various streams.

I came across this article (I think maybe Seth shared it on twitter or instapaper) about the real cost of email, including the quick emails someone jots off to someone else that “take no time”.  It’s from the Harvard Business Review, so it might appeal to even my EMBA profs and classmates.  Here’s a snippet:

I have spent time at a startup, a large consulting firm, a small PR firm, and the White House. During the arc of my career, the amount of email noise was often inversely correlated with the availability of alternate communication channels, as well as an organization’s relative digital literacy. I’ve also found that an open office plan decreased overuse of email, since removing the physical barriers to communication dramatically lowers email reliance.

via Email Is Not Free – Tom Cochran – Harvard Business Review.

Read it.  And consider it next time you’re firing off another email to a friend or colleague:  time has value.  Make sure your email is worth both the time it takes you to write it and the time it will take others to read it.

Do you have any thoughts about email being free vs. costly?  Jump in with a comment!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s