Or maybe not actually rethinking email, but taking it back to what it was meant to be about…
Working with a colleague the other day in a government organisation, I saw him looking for a document, that he was sent in an email. He was looking for it in his email client (Outlook in this case), in an inbox that contained thousands of emails, and lots of email sub folders, all of which contained hundreds, if not thousands, of more emails.
He tried clicking his way through, sorting and resorting folders in different ways, without success. He tried the search function, also to no avail.
This, I thought, is madness. Many people in many organisations do exactly the same thing. They keep hold of thousands of emails, many kept unread for one reason or another, because they might be needed in future, or because they act as reminders to do something, or because they have file attachments that might be useful.
Here’s the thing though. Your email client was set up to receive emails, and to send them. It’s not a task manager. It’s not a file store.
Of course, it’s not individuals fault that they are misusing their email in this way. After all, if a genuinely better, more usable alternative was available, they would use it. But sadly the productivity and document management tools available to your average worker in a big organisation are rarely very usable.
I’d be really interested to know how big a problem this is for people – as I have a little idea around something that could help.
So, are you drowning in email you don’t feel like you can delete? Let me know below!