Life without email?

For most technology professionals (really most professionals of any kind) email is so integrated into our work that we can hardly imagine life without it.  Sure, it can be a distraction at times and – especially if you carry a wireless device – hard to escape from.  But it also greatly enhances productivity, allows us to communicate quickly and effectively and to have asynchronous interactions with a great number of people.  I know in my own work life I send and receive between 200 and 300 emails a day.  And since I’m already tied up on the phone or in meetings for at least 5 or 6 hours in any given day, email allows me to be significantly more productive (and to process more information and communication with a far greater number of people) than without it. 

So it’s with much curiosity that I’m watching my friend Mark Solon – a partner at Highway 12 Ventures in Idaho – experiment with an email free summer.  He describes the heart of his thesis this way: If the people who sent the majority of those e-mails knew that I didn’t have an inbox, they would have either picked up the phone and called me or (and this is the heart of it) probably wouldn’t have bothered because it really wasn’t that important after all.  The link above will take you to the article he wrote about the project. I like Mark, but I’m skeptical that this is going to work.  Even with his secretary printing out important documents (board packages and the like), the limits of old school communication in my mind significantly outweigh the upside from people self filtering their communications with you.  Not to mention, I’d be perpetually worried that I was missing something.

We’ll see what Mark has to say at the end of the summer.  I’m curious in the meantime – could you live without email?