I have a love hate relationship with email.I love having a medium that allows me to communicate effectively with others all over the world. Being able to send some thoughts to a family member in Canada, or thanking your mentor for that little motivational book they sent you in the post. Yip, it's hard to beat email as a form of communication.
Until of course you get to your desk at work at 9am on a Monday morning and the deluge of email in your inbox makes you regret that you didn't just phone in sick that day. Yes there are ways of dealing with your email on a daily basis that let you work smarter and more effectively by implementing filters and such, but that doesn't stop people sending email to you.You see, when you work in a team, department or in a small company, email is often that go to tool that let's one person tell everyone else about something. That's great, but when email becomes the standard form of communication for ideas, discussions and projects, that's when you're going to wish you never opened that your inbox again.
From my experience, I have found that email in the work place is an invasive form of communication that tries to grab your attention from the pressing, but productive work that you are doing. It aims to break your concentration. When you have processed that 'urgent' email, you then need to reset your focus and get back to what you were working before you were interrupted. Personally I can do without that kind of distraction.
So what's the solution? Well it's easy. Non-invasive forms of communication that let you see with others want you to see without distracting them from their work. Project and task management, customer relationship management, and intranets are all greats ways of communicating with others in your company without interrupting what they are working on. They let your team see the information they need to see and they can act upon that information in their own time.
And don't be under the impression that the digital world is the only place you can communicate.
The daily stand up is a great way of communicating with your team and shouldn't be thought as being for developers only. Anyone in a team, should consider the daily stand up where you want a status update from the previous day and to quickly plan what's going to happen today.
Kanban boards are another great trick I learned to use from my days working in an agile development team. An overview of the work in progress is a great way for everyone to see what's going on. It also increases verbal communication over work rather than team members continually pinging emails back and forward.
As a rule, email should be the last form of communication in any team, department or small company. There are so many other ways of communicating that are more productive and will also let your colleagues get their work done.
So next time you want to update the team on a project or want to discuss idea, find an alternative to the evil that is email.