Sometimes you cannot turn back the tide. But, thanks to technology, you can turn it off. I am not talking about the awful tide of water engulfing the British coast, Thames Valley and Somerset Levels. I am referring to email. I tried, inspired by the innovator Tim Ferriss, using an automatic Out Of Office which simply said I would take time to reply. This was a year or so ago when everyone was still caught up in the frenzy of having to respond instantly. But after six months or so I could feel everyone responding slightly later than instant to email and now it is quite normal for people to wait a day rather than an hour. But the volume continues: For a start there is spam which is not caught in the filter. Or the emails which you think you want to read but don’t – the newsletters you do not recall signing up for as well as ones you are sure you did not. Or simply the ones which replace the phone call, which, oddly, is beginning to be a much forgotten form of communication. Then there are the “Backatcha” emails. The reply-to-the-reply-to-the-reply endless loop emails. All in all, we are drowning in an excess of email. It is normal to not be able to clear an inbox in a day. You do not have to be a super-busy person for this to be the case – just a working person. So the debt of unreplied, undealt with emails pile up. And now, I have decided to act. I’m declaring email bankruptcy – for a week’s holiday from the deluge. My out of office warns that all incoming email in a seven day period will not be read and not kept and that the sender must re-write in a week’s time. Luckily I have an efficient PA to help me achieve this rather dramatic course of action. But otherwise I will feel more overworked when I am back at my inbox than before I left: Some vacation.
I say try it. But please, and I’m not being rude. Don’t tell me what you think.