Could You Ever Ditch Email?

Could You Ever Ditch Email?

Most of us consider email a key part of our everyday personal and professional lives, but blogger and academic Cal Newport argues that your email dependence might be more knee-jerk convention than reality.

Newport is quick to point out that an email-free life is truly impossible for some (if your boss requires you to use email, what choice do you have?), but he also believes that many of our email “needs” can be better satisfied in other ways. For example, if you’re worried about being left out of the loop on the seemingly endless supply of CCs:

Very good! These are time wasters. If someone wants to put something on your plate they have to take the time to get in touch with you by phone, or in person, and explain, clearly, what is needed. If they need to check in on an ongoing project, the same holds: phone or in person. The result: less ambiguous crap. More focus.

Every inbox you maintain presents a significant requirement in terms of time and attention (that includes Facebook and Twitter), and as much as I like the idea of ridding myself of my email in theory, email remains a vital part of my work. Still, if you’re a glutton for inboxes, you might consider applying some of the same questions of worth and necessity to some of your less essential inboxes. You may not be able to ditch email, but I bet you could find some non-essential inbox to ditch.

E-Mail Zero: Imagining Life Without E-Mail [Study Hacks]


  • I have half a dozen e-mail accounts but most of them I have linked to one Hotmail account so I can check them all quickly. I’ve also linked in my Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and anything else I can think of. Very convenient!

  • Probably not. Email isn’t a magical contact solution that works for everything, but it’s a good general-purpose tool. You can rely on most people having an email address they check semi-regularly.

    It’s up there with ‘could you ever get rid of your phone’. Sure, a fair few people actually could live without one – but until they come up with a communication method that has the same benefits and market penetration, most people will keep using it.

  • How do I submit a comment without an email address? :p

    But more seriously, I don’t need email. Not really. But I really, really like having it. It’s a great way of keeping in touch without the need for Facebook or whatever the latest thing is. More convenient than physical mail. It’s ubiquitous due to it’s simplicity and convenience. Even my 91yo grandmother has an email account.

  • I don’t **want** to ditch email, and people contacting me by phone and in person is generally the least effective and convenient option. Asynchronous technologies are a lot more convenient for me than being interrupted or having to decipher a garbled voicemail message; I also like having a record of discussions. Email works very well when people make the effort to manage their inboxes effectively, compose clear messages, and respond to messages that really require a response.

  • I agree with Emailer. I prefer asynchronous contact methods. And I don’t want to hear my phone beeping every 3 minutes because of text messages either, because I can’t reply easily with my onscreen keyboard. Any replies end up full of typos and foreign words I’d never heard of (thanks, auto-correct!). So really, just email me, and I’ll get to it when I can, OK?

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