Monday, 19 October 2009

How were times before e?

136… that’s the amount of e-mails I have when I opened my inbox at work this morning, after taking last Friday off. Taking away personal mails, the number came to about 131. It took me almost half a day to clear all of them.

I am sure most of you will agree that working life nowadays evolve around answering e-mails. As I was clearing my inbox and answering some of the so called “urgent” e-mails, I wondered… how was working life like before the days of e-mails?

On any given day, there will be a few mails coming in at the same time inquiring about different situations which require my advice. And in a typical corporate scenario, these inquiries demand immediate reply. And it’s not any ordinary reply. It requires thinking and sometimes, some level of research.

How are these done before the time of e-mails? Through telephone? If it’s through phone, at least you will be engaged on one line if there are 2 inquiries coming in. But with e-mails, you can have up to 10 inquiries in an hour.

And inquiries are the light stuff. It can be agreements, contracts or any form of documents being sent over which require my review and comments. And as usual, everything is urgent. If you take more than a week to reply, it means that you are slow.

Without a doubt, the existence of e-mails has accelerated the pace at which we work. We are now required to provide answers, provide comments, review documents and meet all other unreasonable demands at light speed. It’s really crazy.

One can say that we have become more efficient. But I just think we have been made to work like robots. I really do wonder, how was it like during the times before e-mails came into the picture.


2 years ago…
Turning your eyes from oil to ferryFrom shitty good news to gym and a penis song

23 comments:

Johnson Tee said...

learn to manage your email, google for tim ferriss on email management, and search for inbox zero

Kimmy said...

I used to receive 300 emails a day. 1 hour to screen the unrelated emails because ppl like to copy the whole world and another few hours to answer just like in your situation. Create rule was breeze until the rules itself got filled up :( Too many variables. In the kind of place i used to work, that amount of emails are normal and we had 24 hours to answer it. If not, it'll escalate up to the manager. So, ended up bringing the stupid laptop home just to answer emails. Yup, at a certain point being a worker is no better than a robot because you'll be spending time working all day none stop.
Now, moved to a new job I barely receive any. Most things done verbally. Plus it's more efficient.

gina said...

At least you work in an environment which maximize the use of internet and e-mail... ours.. they still prefer hard copies. I always think we sacrifice 1/100 of the Amazon forest everytime we have board meetings.

Unicorn Girl said...

I have a question to ask you zewt .... who invented e-mails in the first place ???

missironic said...

Hmm... I think last time ppl work through phones most of the time and if not tat urgent by snail mails. Or maybe fax? Not sure when exactly fax came about. :P

I guess that's y their business coverage during that time not that wide compare to now where international business can be easily gained as long as there's Internet.

I think that's how it works, perhaps.. :)

MKL said...

Problem is, that companies employ less people. If there was 2 of you, you'd have 68 mails to reply to :)

foongpc said...

That's nothing! I have over 600 unread emails in my inbox! Will take one week to clear them! LOL!

Petite Lass said...

Couldn't agree more with you, Zewt. Sometimes, the funny thing is people argue via emails instead of the phone! That's really a waste of mailbox storage.

Yvonne Foong said...

Maybe you could hire someone to read your emails for you. This is about your work email right? Hehe... luckily my legal executives at Rockwills read their mails timely.

Yvonne Foong said...

But this reminds me of my lawyer friend. I wonder how do lawyers answer questions that need some research back before we had emails. Do they put the caller on hold, call them back later, ask the visitor to wait while you go read up books at the back of the office?

j_yenn said...

If you're the boss, you can always forward most of the emails to those below the food chain. If they mess up, their year-end assessment gets messed up as well.

What a life........

KoKo said...

nono, thats not entirely true. i know some people that use their emails for stuff like the following,,,

'makan today?'

skc said...

Gadgets n tools had improve leaps, but we stl only have 2hands 1 brain n 24hrs/day.
Replying mails helps da other guy solve his problem making him look work efficient, not replying mail mk u look work inefficient.
Head u lose tail he win. Go figure.

On da other hand, i noe many...MANY ppl msn/ym/chat/facebook/blog almost 1 full work day...EVERDAY. N yet they claim they are underpaid n overworked...

pinknpurplelizard said...

In the pre-email and internet era, many trees died. The office was noisier due to the loud clickety-clacks of typewriters. The phones would be ringing mad off the hook and the use of carbon paper was rampant...

eiling lim said...

In support of going back to the times without emails and handphones! so no one would bother me on my rest days!

zewt said...

Johnson Tee - hmmm... good idea. will look at it tonight.

Kimmy - verbally? wow... that's really something new. dangerous if it's not in writing.

gina - when it comes to board meeting, i think the place i work is also guilty of such antics.

Unicorn Girl - hmm... let's google it.

missironic - yeah, it allows those who can invest (i.e. got money) to dominate. very bad... very bad...

MKL - absolutely... in malaysia, we are always understaff.

foongpc - hahaha... better start now.

zewt said...

Petite Lass - hahaha... yes yes, i have seen such many times.

Yvonne Foong - hmmm... does that mean all your mails were replied by your executives? as for lawyers... i really don't know... have to ask them :)

j_yenn - heh heh... yup!

KoKo - and some ppl so busy never reply.

skc - hahaha... absolutely. very typical malaysian culture.

pinknpurplelizard - i dont think it has changed that much though.

eiling lim - no handphones? sure boh...

Pinknpurplelizard said...

I guess its pretty much the same but the noise level has decreased. Instead of noisy typewriters, we have the softer tapping of keyboards and phones no longer ring so loud that you feel you're gonna have a cardiac arrest. LOL

zewt said...

pinknpurplelizard - hahaha... i probably need to ask my boss about it to confirm.

plain jane said...

Don't you just hate it when one sends out a mail to a whole list of people re something and then someone else replies copying the whole army of people just to say "thank you" or something that we really don't give a shit about?? makes you want to go over and smack some senses into their heads, no?

ingat dulu masa we use desktops and suddenly got power failure...all like clueless idiots. no emails, cannot work. now got laptop, no power supply never mind, got batteries. cannot access emails, never mind can play games.

err, what i meant was do something else work related ;D

zewt said...

plain jane - eh eh...with notebook... no electricity, cannot work lah... sebab server tak function... :P

neno said...

i had sth like tat on my day off too..except mine is the direct opposite of ur case..kekeke..the majority of the mail are personal..onli one o two occasionally bout work..

zewt said...

neno - waahhh... hope your boss not reading this.