Thursday, January 15, 2009

60 BILLION emails daily and counting

I hate email!

There... I said it!

Email is an albatross around all of our necks. Studies show that 60 billion emails are sent daily and it seems that half of them end up in my inbox.

For a little perspective - When I started Superior Document Services in 1998, Superior had an AOL email account. That's right ONE email account for the entire company : accessed thought a dial up modem. OUCH!

In those days I might average 1 email a day from a client. ONE! My inbox today has 8085 items in it and that is with a liberal delete policy.

As I struggle to maintain control over my ever expanding universe of emails I realize that all email is not created equal. There is lots of important information trapped inside of the emails and using Outlook alone isn't cutting it. Newsletters, status updates, and confirmation emails shouldn't carry the same weight as an email from your largest client.

My visionary and inspirational friend Daniel Waldschmidt showed me an excellant tool for Outlook \: XOBNI.
Thats INBOX backwards. Xobni (price = free) gives you specialized dashboards that spotlight crucial data about your inbox and contacts - information often buried and ignored. For example not only does it show me a contacts phone number; Xobni groups conversations; files shared and common contacts in an easy to access format.

As result of my love for XOBNI I started doing a bit more research and found "clearcontext". This free application offers the best bang for the download I have seen. Featuring smart functions that group related emails together ( like gmail has for years) so you can follow a conversation. It sees who you reply to and how often and color codes and prioritizes their messages; graying out mass emails. While this sounds like a little thing; distinguishing between boilerplate notifications and emails that may generate business dollars at a glance is a wonderful innovation.

The last tool I found but haven't tried seems to be the holy grail of value adds to Outlook is called Gist. This free application; still in beta, searches news feeds for information about people you email. For example; if one of my clients gets promoted to partner at his prestigious AMLAW 100 firm , the news pops up on my dashboard as soon as it is made public and allows me to fire off a personal note in a timely manner. For someone having 9000 emails from places as disparate as Honk Kong; Munich, Houston and Kingston Jamiaca, this tool has limitless potential. I have heard great things about this software and will fill in the blanks as soon as I am fully versed. HInt Hint Gist folks....

While it may seem that you are drowning in emails, there are tools available to help. I hope you will find these valuable.

Additional suggestions are more than welcome.

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