Everyone knows the old saw that goes, "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." Even if it is a fancy hammer, it still just pounds nails. I'm reminded of Homer Simpson's electric hammer.
That's what I see people doing with their email tools: everything and anything. "I'm doing email," is the explanation for the two hours that vanish after lunch. The problem is that most people use email for far more than simply sending and receiving email. It's a (massive) inbox of work waiting to be done. It's a reminder system. It's a project management tool. It helps cover-your-assets by archiving everything. It contains a record of business. I'm sure there are plenty of other uses beyond the basics of email: send and receive information.
Email works just fine. It's all these other uses that are broken for email. That is why Luis Suarez has been Thinking outside the inbox for over three years. It's also why you see the occasional article like Euan Semple's proclamation, I love email:
I do, really. I love any form of online contact. So why do so many people bang on about what a burden email is? To be honest, as with so many things, it is more about them than it is about email.
Euan's post this morning inspired this article. I believe the "one tool to rule them all" mindset is built into the business community. While I can have an impact by making better use of the tool, we also need to find ways to improve the use of email together. This means guiding people and learning from others on how to manage all the other aspects of work: projects, to-do, calendar, lunch planning, archiving, etc.
Really. Email is not onerous.
[Photo: "44/365 screwing the nail" by jdebner]