The Thing About Email

Today we’re releasing Part 2 of The Email Paradox: Inefficient Efficiency, which continues our discussion of email overload and it’s impact on productivity and personal well-being. A third episode on tools and tactics for slaying your own email dragons is in the works.

Missed Part 1 of The Email Paradox: Inefficient Efficiency? You can find it here, at Apple Podcasts, or your preferred podcast provider.

Why the focus on email? Because it’s arguably the most efficient form of written communication ever invented…yet it’s a massive threat to efficiency. We’ve got no business calling ourselves The Busyness Paradox if we don’t hop all over that one. And it’s a challenge many of our listeners are battling. Take your pick of studies and statistics showing the costs and consequences of email abundance; for a lot of you, it hits close enough to home that you don’t need convincing.

I can relate. My personal email Waterloo (couldn’t escape if I wanted to, Waterl-) oh, don’t act like you didn’t start singing it too! Anyways, it was back in 2017, a time when “professional email responder” was a far, far more accurate description of my day-to-day activities than “college professor” until the funniest damn thing happened: I lost the ability to communicate in writing. Not all at once, which would have been preferable, but slowly and confusingly over several months. This “expressive aphasia” turned out to be a symptom of an undiagnosed tick-borne infection. The sky-is-falling chaos caused by my inability to fire off hundreds of email responses every day? That was a symptom of something else: a tool who’s very efficiency allows it to creep like an invasive vine into our jobs until it becomes our jobs, if left unchecked.

Today’s episode is the second part of our deep dive into this topic and we hope you’ll enjoy listening to it (or reading the transcript if that’s more your style). Next comes the hard part: identifying ways to tame the inbox.

We know, we know…there’s bunch of ready-made solutions out there. That email management has become its own category of software packages and self-improvement philosophies kind of tells you something, but we’ll admit that some very elegant solutions have been developed. Many of us, including, literally, us, have found success with automations, apps, and strategies designed to streamline the flow and processing of email.

But that’s the thing.

Email is already streamlined. It’s already insanely efficient. Pretty sure some guys just spent two episodes of their podcast arguing that its efficiency is what got us into this mess! (chirp….chirp) Won’t making us even MORE efficient at email just lead to…more email? Are we treating the symptoms in a way that just makes the underlying problem worse.

Yeah, that’s the thing.

And so begins our quest to untangle the email paradox.  In the weeks and months ahead we’ll be laying out our own time and money to test drive email management products and strategies, in search of any that treat both the symptoms and the causes of email burnout. If there are any products or strategies you’d like us to test drive, let us know and we add them to our list! And if you’ve found any that work for you, please share your experiences in the comments section or by contacting us on Twitter, LinkedIn or, yes…you can even email us.

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