For anyone who spends more time away from their email than they do on it, and if you're feeling the email overload, have a read of this article in the New York Times on how the big email providers are trying to help. I'm always looking for better ways to process more digital information - be it learning about new technolgy, managing emails, or getting through the 66,210 articles in my RSS feeds I currently need to read.
Here's an excerpt from the article:
A typical information worker who sits at a computer all day turns to his e-mail program more than 50 times and uses instant messaging 77 times, according to one measure by RescueTime, a company that analyzes computer habits. The company, which draws its data from 40,000 people who have tracking software on their computers, found that on average the worker also stops at 40 Web sites over the course of the day.
The fractured attention comes at a cost. In the United States, more than $650 billion a year in productivity is lost because of unnecessary interruptions, predominately mundane matters, according to Basex. The firm says that a big chunk of that cost comes from the time it takes people to recover from an interruption and get back to work.
And a bit more:
Some of the biggest technology firms, including Microsoft, Intel, Google and I.B.M., are banding together to fight information overload. Last week they formed a nonprofit group to study the problem, publicize it and devise ways to help workers — theirs and others — cope with the digital deluge.
Their effort comes as statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.
The big chip maker Intel found in an eight-month internal study that some employees who were encouraged to limit digital interruptions said they were more productive and creative as a result.
Intel and other companies are already experimenting with solutions. Small units at some companies are encouraging workers to check e-mail messages less frequently, to send group messages more judiciously and to avoid letting the drumbeat of digital missives constantly shake up and reorder to-do lists.
So the easy way to crack information overload? Google have an app that turns your email off every now and again forcing you to do something else insted. Neat! (I think they'd say).
A Google software engineer last week introduced E-Mail Addict, an experimental feature for the company’s e-mail service that lets people cut themselves off from their in-boxes for 15 minutes. The E-Mail Addict feature in Gmail is more of a blunt instrument. Clicking the “Take a break” link turns the screen gray, and a message reads: “Take a walk, get some real work done, or have a snack. We’ll be back in 15 minutes!”