No Email Policy (How I Stopped Using Email To Double My Productivity)

Would a no-email policy even be possible? Sounds absurd. Yet, if you think about it, at the back of your mind – you know there might be something to it. Especially, when you see more and more emails every day.

I personally get over 100+ emails a day. Yes, it’s out of control. And I’ve realized that half of my job is going through them and deleting or responding. That’s not work, that’s being reactive.

Companies like Google (Gmail) are trying to solve this, there are even expensive paid apps that will help speed up your dealing with email. But spinning faster, doesn’t mean you’re doing more. It could just mean your rocking horse, and not really going anywhere. And having an app with all the features you require, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get the job done. Even if you did, was it really worth doing in the first place.

As my frustration with email increased, I went about my research to see if I could eliminate email altogether. And I found an interesting report from HBR touching upon this and the increase in productivity.

Okay, you killed email. Now how do people reach you, or how do you reach people. What about all that “essential” stuff you need to go through.

Switch Off Notifications, Check Less

Over the next 30 days, I’m challenging myself to no email. Unless required. And this is difficult, because when you’re working with your client and they are doing say a capital raise – you need to see the email that’s been sent to prospective investors. Or do you?

While no email is one extreme, there is a slightly less painful way to deal with it – twice a day, preferably once a day and that too in the evening, when the day is over. Remember, when someone emails you – it’s because they want it to be part of your agenda for that day. But what is more important is you control your own agenda.

Use Project Management / Collaborative Software

I presume as the HBR note pointed out – that there would be increased use of face-to-face meetings and calls. And collaboration? Well, that shouldn’t be done via email – but by something like a Google Doc (you can collaborate on spreadsheets and presentations as well under G Suite) or use software like Basecamp, Asana or Teamwork – to get your team looking at the same thing in the same place.

Shall We Chat About This?

Another option would be jumping onto chat apps, that are asynchronous like Slack or Twist or even WhatApp – but its the same effect, only faster. But after some time, you’ll find that they’re not perfect either and just add to the distraction with all those real-time notifications.

Do You Still Need Email?

Granted, for verification purposes, for payment receipts or even resetting passwords – you may need email. It’s good for notifications. You won’t be able to untangle yourself from email altogether, well, at least for now.

Inbox Zero May Not Be The Solution You’re Looking For

Clearing your email inbox and getting to zero-inbox may feel good, and may give you the false sense that you’re productive. But unless your job is to delete emails, you really need to see who you’re fooling. Of course, if you’re rich and you have an assistant to filter your emails… well, you shouldn’t be reading this.

Come to think of it, outside of work – you probably don’t use email. How do you communicate with friends? Messaging?