762 Items in my inbox, 343 say they are unread. It shocks my colleagues whenever they spot it. I have looked at most of the emails of course and addressed the critical ones… at least I think I have. Perhaps I should just check again…

Email is a constant problem for me:

  • It takes a long time to read everything – I read at approximately half the speed of most people. I scan read quite fast… but then I miss things – so emails take three or four times longer than for my colleagues.
  • Getting distracted – Inboxes are inherently distracting places – all those different subjects, those little popup messages when a new one appears, trying to pull you in, and each sender and subject capable of triggering 5 or 10 different thoughts. It is not surprising that dyslexics, who are usually easily distracted often find ourselves getting de-focussed.
  • Replying can take ages – Emails often require action, consideration or writing… and writing takes time… lots of time. In my case, I write largely by putting something on paper, and then repeatedly re-editing until it says what I mean. Not fast…

I’ve done the numbers – about 80 emails arrive every day. Even at just over one minute per email… that’s about an hour and a half every day just to read email – without even replying or acting on anything I read. Add the considerable time needed to respond coherently and I could easily spend 4 hours a day – just to do email. But like most professionals, I simply don’t have 4 hours a day to do email!

So that is the practical problem. However, I think there is also a cultural impact. Many professional services organisations (i.e. accountants, lawyers, consultants etc), often use email as a means of inclusion for a workforce that are often physically in different places. Unfortunately, not being fully “involved” in this traffic can therefore be quite exluding.

It’s not all disaster of course! Over the next couple of days I will post some of the things I have tried to address this… some of which have worked for me… (See linked post: My solutions: Ideas for managing a busy inbox for dyslexics)