Taming the email monster

This morning’s Observer column.

Email has become the central communications channel of all modern organisations, to the point where none of them could now function without it. But there’s increasing evidence – both anecdotal and empirical – that it has become dysfunctional. It eats into people’s working and thinking time, for example, distracts them from doing “real” work and generates guilt feelings that ratchet up stress levels to unsustainable levels.

In the old world of desktop PCs, you could at least leave it behind when you left the office. But the advent of the smartphone changed all that. Email has now infiltrated leisure time, family time – even sleep time. It’s become a monster that’s destroying our lives.

Deep down, most of us know this. But we daren’t talk about it out loud, for fear of seeming inadequate…