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Message Not Received: Why Business Communication Is Broken and How to Fix It by Phil Simon

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4How We Say ItE-Mail Is Dead. Long Live E-Mail!

There is no escape: E-mail is probably the most invasive form of communication yet devised.

—Nick Bilton

My name is Phil, and I’m a recovering e-mail addict.

Hello, Phil.

It’s been three hours since I sent my last e-mail. I’ve been using e-mail since 1992. In those 23 years, I have sent an insane number of messages. How many? Here’s my back-of-the-envelope calculation:

  • Approximate days since mid-1992: 8,000
  • Average e-mails sent per day: 50a
  • Approximate total e-mails sent: 400,000
  • Average time spent composing each e-mail: 3 minutes
  • Total hours spent composing e-mails: 20,175
  • Total days spent composing e-mails: 840
  • Total weeks spent composing e-mails: 120
  • Total sleepless years spent composing e-mails: 2.3

This exercise produced some interesting statics, but the last is by far the most shocking. I have spent more than two sleepless years of my professional life just sending e-mails, and none of this includes the time spent reading them. Even if I exclude the e-mails I have penned on weekends, that number only drops to a shade over 1.8 years!

If you’re curious about how your own stats stack up, I’ve made it easy for you to find out. Download and play with the simple spreadsheet posted on my website.b Feel free to tweak it however you like.

I’ve known for a long time that I was addicted to e-mail. I didn’t need to run those numbers to prove it. Rather, I can point to a very particular incident that led to my moment of clarity, to ...

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