Thank God for email

February 7, 2009


I started my working career around the same time as emails were taking off as a recognised system of communication. However, they had still not reached current levels of usage. Today, it is impossible for me to think of working without staying connected all the time to my official email account. Which means a laptop with a datacard (as they are referred to in India) and a Blackberry. Things have come to such a pass that for me to spend a sane day at work, I need the email and the internet. But don’t get me all wrong on this. It is not that I work hard and am forever connecting with colleagues and the rest of the world in furthering my company’s cause. The plain and simple truth is that I have reached a stage where I CANNOT DO ANYTHING BEYOND SENDING, RECEIVING and RESPONDING to my emails. Without that, I would be caught out in no time. My family and I owe our survival to the wonders of the email and the internet.

Let me try and explain how this works. For me to able to emphasise the criticality of electronic mail to my survival in the corporate world, I need to rewind a few years back and put things in perspective. I spent most of my early career as an Investment Banker. Per force, this meant a spending a fair amount of my working days (and nights, in all honesty) crunching numbers using, in those days, Lotus 123 or in negotiating draconian clauses in all kinds of sale/ buy agreements. Those were the early days of liberalisation in India and much as I would not like to admit it, it was a good learning process for all, especially us I bankers, and usually at someone else’s cost. During this period, even access to emails was limited and one usually ended up spending not more than 20 minutes during the day, basically to ensure that there were no mails.

I cannot remember exactly when the tide turned, but today, the situation is diametrically opposite. I spend not more than half an hour on non email stuff at work and even that is usually on things like posting a blog, etc which is what I am doing right now. The rest of the day revolves around the mail like creating folders, organising mails into the appropriate folder, moving mails from one folder to the other, deleting the older mails, moving mails from one mail account to the other, reading and rereading inane mails which should under normal circumstances should have been consigned to the trashbin even without a read, forwarding mails to colleagues to reassure them about my “busyness”, adding email IDs to the contact database etc. Outlook has also added to the joy of spending time on mails. Things have come to such a pass that I measure the effectiveness of my working day based on the number of emails that I have sent and received during the day. I am adding nuances to this work effectiveness metric by looking at sub parameters like how many of the mails are from external (not from my colleagues) email IDs (in my book this translates to being an important cog in an “outward looking” organisation as opposed to being “inward looking”), the promptness with which I get responses from the unfortunate people who are the targets of my fetish (the faster I get the response, the more self important I become), delay in responding (read I am busy in meetings and attending to other mundane official chores), etc. I go turkey if I dont get an email for more than 15 minutes. I feel like a wastrel who is a liability to the organisation. And I start blogging or step out for a smoke. The only saving grace for the organisation that is unfortunate enough to employ me is that given this, I will NEVER EVER have a secretary/ exec. assistant. I cannot think of doing anything that exemplifies the statement “digging one’s own grave”.

I also have my favorite email types. The ones I love the most are the ones that have my ID amongst the “To” as opposed to being part of the “Cc” list and do not have an attachment. Why?.I can spend a fair amount of time in going thru the mail and even more importantly spend hours in drafting the “perfect” reply. Perfect as in one which says a lot without meaning much, which will open the floodgates for the email trail to become longer and even less sensible and finally rendering the whole issue obscure.

I hate the ones which have an attachment and which asks for opinion on the contents. Why? The joy of getting a mail is inversely proportional to the number of attachments. It also means that I need to apply my mind while going through the attachment, a skill which I have lost long back (presuming that I had it in the first place).

Messages like “email server will be down for periodic maintenance between x and y hours tomorrow” give me the shivers. Those are the days that I utilise my sick leave. Long live the eMail !!!

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3 Responses to “Thank God for email”

  1. Bennita Ganesh Says:

    Now that you’re done with this post, you can probably start updating your resume. One word of caution, please be sure not to mention your blog in your resume………..Cheers!

  2. mala Says:

    ganesh….i am a living example of how email can change one’s life. ive always been a great letter writer …right from my childhood…..i would think of someone, immediately dash off a long gup shup letter to them…..and then promptly carry the letter along with me for months together…and this carried on for years….. i’d sorted out my bag, only to find all the news outdated and consign all my writings to the dustbin..my sister used to send me self addressed envelopes but no luck..then email came in….and all i had to do was SEND. wow… I now write to my hearts content and someone actually gets it. ( ps dare i say though, theres nothing like a lovely hand written letter, especially in ink!)

  3. Ravi Says:

    If only some one can come up with a patch ( like the nicotine patch) for this email addiction…


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