Avoiding Email Can Be A Good Thing

Sir Clive Sinclair was at the forefront of the home computer revolution with the ZX81 and Spectrum, but 30 years on he's made one key technology decision: not to use email.

Picture from Wikimedia Commons

Speaking to the Observer, Sinclair confirmed that despite being as active in business as ever and a computing pioneer, he doesn't do email:

"I'd much prefer someone would telephone me if they want to communicate. No, it's not sheer laziness – I just don't want to be distracted by the whole process."

While this might seem like an extreme example, it is one way of avoiding email overload, and a reminder that you should choose your communications medium carefully before hitting that send button. If you are sticking with email, then brevity and the EOM tag are also useful. Thanks Alex!

Sir Clive Sinclair: "I don't use a computer at all" [The Observer]


    hmmm... wish i could get away from email. you need it to do almost anything online these days.

    one thing that caught me was this guy suggests he's lazy for not using email. i always felt the opposite - why pick up the phone when i can just email? nowadays it's getting more and more difficult to actually get a real person anymore; but most of the time i find that's really the only way to get something done.

    Yes. Avoid email overload but then have the phone ring every time you hang up. Although I guess people will eventually give up phoning if you're far too busy, while email would sit and wait and generate follow up emails.

    The whole relevant section is:

    "I don't use a computer at all. The company does."
    "So you don't do email?"
    "No. I've got people to do it for me."
    "If friends and family want to communicate?"
    "They can do that. We've got a computer in the front office, but I get someone to do it for me."

    And I think this is important, because it makes it clear his business is still using email and really, it looks as though his approach is no different to many other execs, who just have a secretary handle all email.

    Some people online do skip out on the email business, the ones I can think of immediately are Neal Stephenson (Scifi writer) and Leo from Zen Habits.

    A more measured approach is probably that adopted by people who advocate doing email in batches or only at specific times, rather than letting notifications distract you.

    Leo Babauta from Zen Habits is one example of why I don't think this is a good idea. Some time ago I tried giving him some feedback (a link in his ebook, to the graphic designers he used, wasn't working.) I searched in vain for a 'contact us' link, eventually discovering he only receives comments on his blog via twitter. I've never signed up for Twitter (it's a bigger time sink than email) so, as far as I know, Leo hasn't yet received the feedback that he'd probably appreciate, and is oblivious to my attempts to help.

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