Death by email

Someday I bet we’ll see books with great titles like Death by Email, because it’s hard to believe the people who were smart enough to create email weren’t smart enough to think about what it would do to average workers like me. Think about this. How would you feel if every single day, thirty or forty times a day, someone walked into your office/cubicle/study and dropped a pile of work on your desk? And here are the rules: you can’t close your door, you can’t stop any of these people from walking in or leaving the work on your desk; and in fact you must do something with whatever they’ve left for you (even if it’s just taking it to the trash so your desk doesn’t look like a paper bomb went off at the end of the day). Would you put up with this? No chance. But that’s precisely what happens in my inbox every waking day of my life. And the idiots who invented email never thought that some of us would like to be able – just now and then – to not receive emails. We’d like to be able to do more than post an automatic response like: “Hi, I’m out of the office, but please, keep dumping your stuff on my desk so I can sort it all out when I get back.” Some of us would like to be able to suspend our receptivity for a day or two at a time, and make the sender re-send his or her crap when we actually feel like having our workday invaded by all the work everyone else in the world thinks we should be doing. We’d like a modicum of control. Just a smidge, mind you, a little something to make us feel like self-directed humans again. I say this as an email user, well aware that email is nearly passé. Think of all the other, more efficient ways we’ve found to digitally put work in other people’s workspaces!

[Deep breath.] Sometimes you just gotta rant for a minute. . . .

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