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SimpleBites: Email Hell or Help?

I just processed another prework survey for an upcoming workshop I’m doing. Several questions ask for a 1 to 10 response: (1= “No Sweat. Takes no courage at all.” 10= “Cold Sweat. Are you kidding?!? I could never do that!” So far, the score for “Delete 50% of your emails without ever reading them” is averaging about 8.5. That’s consistent with what I’ve seen over the past decade. The two most common reasons I’ve heard are: “I can’t afford to miss something important” “What if I’m asked a question about what was sent?”

I just processed another prework survey for an upcoming workshop I’m doing. Several questions ask for a 1 to 10 response: (1= “No Sweat. Takes no courage at all.” 10= “Cold Sweat. Are you kidding?!? I could never do that!” So far, the score for “Delete 50% of your emails without ever reading them” is averaging about 8.5. That’s consistent with what I’ve seen over the past decade. The two most common reasons I’ve heard are:

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  • “I can’t afford to miss something important”
  • “What if I’m asked a question about what was sent?”

A real-world example of this was cited by Deb Adamson in the FC Book Club discussion area. She (rightly) said she couldn’t take a chance on missing important news/information from her boss. This is a real day-to-day problem for all of us. How do we know what’s important and what’s noise? In the coming days, we’ll take a deep dive into that topic. But first, I’d like to share with you three unrelenting forces that are currently crashing into each other:

Every 1,100 days your information load will double. That’s every three years. Guaranteed. No exceptions. Why is this so important? For almost all of us, our current sorting/ scanning/ organizing/ synthesizing/ prioritizing/ focusing strategies are already failing us. There’s no way we can keep up with everything we’re supposed to. Almost all of us need to find new strategies — fast!

Almost none of us were trained to Scan massive amounts of information (knowing exactly how to find the needle-in-the-haystack valuable stuff.) Editors, writers, designers, and a few others were. But hardly anyone else has been. That’s why, in his early days as founding editor of Fast Company, Alan Webber said one of the most crucial skills we can all learn is the ability to “connect the dots” — meaning our ability to quickly see patterns in information, quickly discerning the crap and the clutter.

This kind of overload/complexity costs you two hours per day! That’s what our decade-long research has found. So there’s a lot more at stake than missing something from your boss…

The ability to discern crap and clutter can give you back up to two hours per day of your life!

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