Last week I came across an older post from March 11th over at Lonnie Foster's weblog, which I really liked and wanted to share here. Lonnie's post linked to and talked about an Ole Eichhorn essay called The Tyranny of Email, about email's intrusion into our lives and how to deal with it.
I had already made a few changes in my own email patterns before reading Ole's essay, which have helped: setting less frequent schedules for checking, splitting my personal and work emails into two separate "accounts" (something you can do easily with Entourage on the Mac) and limiting my checking of email on weekends to once a day.
However, Eichhorn's essay suggests setting even more limits on your email and provides good reasoning for his ideas. Here's a teaser list of Eichhorn's suggestions:
1. Turn your email client off. Pick the moment at which you'll be interrupted.
2. Never criticize anyone in email, and avoid technical debates. Use face-to-face meetings or 'phone calls instead.
3. Be judicious in who you send email to, and who you copy on emails.
4. Observing some formality is important.
5. Don't hesitate to review and revise important emails.
6. Remember that email is a public and permanent record.
But don't just scan the above list! Be sure to read the whole essay, since Eichhorn provides much more detail on the reasons why and how to go about making practical changes. If you're curious about response to Ole's essay check out Tyranny Revisited.