Email overload, WaterAid and email limits

Monday June 27th, 2011, 10:45 am

Last week I had the honour of working with WaterAid whose mission is to provide clean water.  We often stress about how much email we receive.  Indeed the daily volume is around two million emails per second and an average of 70 every day per person.  The more you send the more you receive.

Compare this to those who do not have access to clean water.  One in eight people lack access to clean water, around 884 million people.  Water related diseases kill 4,000 children every day.

For me this set today’s self-induced disease of email overload in context.  The next time you are about to hit send stop and ask yourself these two questions. Why am I sending this email?  How will it help the recipient do their job?  For many of us it is all too easy to hit send when a little restraint will reveal that often it is our own ego which is the primary benefiary of sending the email!

Many people ask me how can they help their colleagues change their email behaviour and become more responsible, for example talking first and emailing second, minimising the number of people on the distribution list etc.

Here is a suggestion.  £2 a day can provide someone with clean water for life.  Set an email limit on how many times a person can email you during a day (eg five times) for a month. When people exceed the limit fine them say 20p for each email over the limit. With the total money collected to go to WaterAid you will be very suprised at just how many people you can help during the month.   You will be saving yourself and your colleagues time and at the same time providing someone with clean water.

Good luck.