Monday, March 20, 2006

Dealing with email

I've been an email addict (for better or worse) some 15 years. I am intimately familiar with email architecture, MIME standards, transport mechanisms and language encoding problems but it seems as much as I know about email I am still unable to make any meaningful progress in how I manage email. I remember once a couple of years ago I actually had my Inbox empty for about a day and I was so proud of myself - unfortunately this state of bliss lasted all too briefly.

Managing your email can really make or break your productivity so it is interesting to see how some of the busiest people in the world deal with it. Fortune magazine interviewed several top CEOs [via Email Overloaded] to find out how they stay in touch and some of the comments are downright unbelievable. From the super busy

Marissa Mayer (VP, Search Products and User Experience, Google) receives 700 to 800 emails every day (her assistant handles many of these), takes 70 meetings a week, works on her email after 8pm and gets by on 4-6 hours of sleep. On weekends, she spends at least one 10 to 14 hour session on processing her accumulated email.

Carlos Ghosn (CEO of Renault (France) and Nissan (Japan)) spends the first week of every month in France, the third in Japan and also fits in a week in the US. He has three assistants who screen his email, passing to him only the items that they know are of great interest to him. He gets up by 6am and uses the time before his first meeting (8am) for thinking. He does not take his work home with him, allowing him to take a fresh look at things, from a different angle.

to near-ludite CEO of Goldman Sachs (my apologies to Hank, ludite is not a bad word!):

Hank Paulson (Chairman and CEO, Goldman Sachs) has never used email, but is a “huge voicemail user,” receiving about 200 voicemail messages daily, which are not screened by his assistant. Although he has no time for small-talk, he returns every call right away. This past Christmas, he spent 10 days hiking in Chile, and appears in most of the family photographs with a satellite phone at his ear. He gets up at 5:30am and is in bed by 10pm.

And you thought you had problems dealing with email!


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