Letting email pick up the Slack
It’s pretty widely accepted these days that email is a chore. And email overload has been a big factor driving the rise of apps like Slack, which encourage a more fluid form of online communication in the workplace.
But have we been too quick the talk email down? A tweet from Hope King
over the weekend agreed with something I’ve been thinking for a while – I prefer email to any other form of one-to-one or group online communication, including Slack.
Slack turns every message into something that demands your attention right now. There’s an expectation that if you’re logged in, you should reply quickly. And if you’re not logged in, why the hell not.
And if you don’t reply straight away because a message isn’t urgent, you lose track of who wanted to hear from you and either don’t bother replying, or waste ages trying to pick up where you left off. Tools to help you manage your incoming Slack messages are pretty much nil.
With email, the ball’s in your court as the receiver. You can reply immediately or next week, and how you organise your inbox to achieve what you want is up to you. There are increasingly powerful tools available if you really want to go deep on optimising the way you use email.
You can can get emails returned to your inbox on a day when you have time to handle it, for example. And you can schedule emails to send at a time considerate to the recipient.
If your boss has an idle thought to share with you on Slack from the other side of the world, you may feel compelled to enter ‘work mode’ at 11pm to get back to her immediately. But if she schedules her non-urgent missive to hit your inbox at 9am your local time, then you’re happy and you don’t have to begrudge her invading your evening.
I’m a big fan of Superhuman
, which costs $29 per month and is incredibly good, but there are other powerful email apps that cost less.
In an ideal world, instant messaging tools would just be for urgent one-to-one messages or completely non-urgent group conversations. For everything else, we should remember that email is a perfectly good tool that we shouldn’t be too keen to fall out of love with.