Vacation complete, e-mail dead

Back from a quick vacation trip. Will backfill with some thoughts and pictures on that later, just wanted to share the good feeling of lacking the usual unread e-mail hangover.

I spent the past week deliberately in a wifi-less hotel and only opened the computer once for 30 minutes. Back in the office today, I had only about 80 unread e-mail messages and 31 Skype multichats with unread content. So, what’s so good about it?

For comparision, while working with Helmes before Skype, I used to get about 100 e-mails a day. A minority of them with just myself on the To-line, internal and external mailing lists and tons of carbon copies dominating. A week of out of office time could easily result in a big bold four-digit Inbox “unread” count, I remember. Getting through those took a better part of the week of return, rendering it effectively unproductive.

Sure, unread 31 Skype multichats also contain on average between 5 and 40 participants, hundreds and hundreds of entries, but in a very compact form, mostly staying in the thread and to the point and formatted in condensed inline text as opposed to a typical myriad of small-body-big-file-attachments style of corporate e-mails. There were only three files that people sent me over Skype when I was away, I now accepted just one I needed and declined the others.

When I opened all the relevant links to more information (memos, reports, statistics, news articles, etc) from the multichats, I had a Firefox window with about 12 tabs.

And now, mere six hours later I’m back in business. Communication catchup done, some items marked for later reading. I even had time to get coffee and spend about 1.5 hours in face to face catchups with colleagues.

I seriously considered copying my e-mail out-of-office reply from Henry, who usually just says something in the lines of “I will not reply to e-mail received during my vacation. If it is important enough, you’ll find me when I’m back or just resend then.” Apparently I didn’t need to. We have effectively managed to kill e-mail, at least inside Skype.