When I’m not reading about the many and various ways the world may end, I’m interested in technology and how it impacts our working lives.
Cal Newport’s new book ‘A world without email’ really makes the case for relying on this tool to get stuff done in organisations. There’s no doubt we’ve become over-reliant on email, using it ways it was never intended.
What if email didn’t save knowledge work but instead accidentally traded minor conveniences for a major drag on real productivity (not frantic busyness, but actual results), leading to slower economic growth over the past two decades?Cal Newport: A world without email
Additionally, it’s not enough for one or two people to make changes to their email habits, because the ‘hyperactive hive mind’ he refers to is centred on this kind of communication. It requires something more strategic – change at the systems level.
Rather than being something that helps us get work done, for millions of knowledge-workers, this is become the work – displacing creative problem solving into breaks, mornings, evenings and weekends.
I’ve not finished it yet, but so far I’m enjoying his perspective on the unintended consequences of email as a communication tool. I’m lucky that as an independent professional, I’m not really exposed to some of the more toxic and overwhelming email behaviour associated with corporate life. But I get a glimpse of it from time to time, via my clients, and it’s more than enough for me.